08/02/2013 02:20 pm ET

Why Random Roomies Aren't So Bad


This article was written by a teen reporter from The Mash, a weekly publication distributed to Chicagoland high schools.

By Steffie Drucker, University of Illinois

I’d been waiting months for the news, and it finally came on Monday: my roommate assignment for freshman year at University of Illinois.

To give you a little history, I started out thinking that I would live with someone from high school. But everyone I talked to said they were going random or planning to find someone on Facebook — they were afraid that living with a friend could ruin their relationship.

OK, I thought, I guess living with someone I don’t know could be fun. At least it’s a good way to get to know someone new.

Still, I felt nervous about living with a complete stranger who was assigned to me by a computer program. I knew that university housing matched people based on a roommate survey, but I felt like there were questions that the survey didn’t ask that were important to me.

I tried really hard to find a roommate via Facebook before my housing application was due on May 15. I checked out various University of Illinois Facebook pages, constantly looking for new potential roommates. I scrolled right past some posts, clicked on others and replied to a handful of promising leads. Some of those messages were returned and an awkward speed-date-esque conversation followed, while other greetings went unanswered.

In short, after “interviewing” dozens of roommate candidates, I ended up alone on May 15. I was forced to go random — and I was terrified.

My first glimmer of hope came from university housing on May 28. I found out which dorm I’d be living in, and thankfully it was my first choice. But still no news about my random roommate.

I checked my email obsessively for weeks. And finally —FINALLY!— the message I’d been waiting for hit my inbox on July 29.

My roommate, who I was positive would be a horrible fit for me, is actually from Urbana, Illinois, home to University of Illinois (first thought: Yes! I’ll have a built-in tour guide). Since finding out about each other, my roomie and I have been texting back and forth and we even Skyped for 45 minutes last night.

We’re still in that awkward getting-to-know-you stage, but she seems really sweet and we’re both so excited for freshman year.

My roommate saga taught me that even though I didn’t find a roommate ahead of time, like I wanted to, my situation still worked out in the end.


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