Sharing a Room

By Sarah Garland

When I first found out I was sharing a room, my initial reaction was panic. I hadn’t put that I wanted to share a room, I had no idea who my roommate was going to be, and I’m a person who NEEDS their own space: an introvert through and through.

However, by the end of my first day at John’s, hand on my heart, I’d completely changed my mind. This is me with my new roomie on our first day together and one at the end of the year, by which point we had become far more than best friends:

I know sharing a room isn’t for everyone, but if you’d asked me before university whether it was for me, I’d have given you a resolute ‘no’. So here are my honest pros and cons of sharing a room.

Pros

  • An instant friend. One of the scariest things about starting university is not knowing anyone. Luckily at Durham the college system helps with this anyway, but having a roommate means you instantly have a friend to go to meals and events with. But it helps across the year too: someone to wake you up for your lecture if your alarm doesn’t go off; someone to let someone know and bring you food when you’re ill; someone to take your photo before a night out…
  • Sharing Interests. College don’t just stick you with anyone when you share a room. They take a lot of time and effort to put you with someone who they think you’ll get on with, who gets up and goes to bed at a similar time and who might want to get involved in similar things to you. Obviously, they’re not psychic and they can’t always get it perfect (although the accuracy with which they paired me with my roomie might suggest otherwise), but chances are you’ll share some interests with your roomie. My roomie and I had both put Disney movies as an interest on our personality forms for college and so we were sorted, but there was also so much more we had in common! I learned so much about musical theatre from her as it was her passion, and it was great that whenever our friendship group had debates about politics that I knew we could sit quietly in a corner and have our own conversation as we would both equally have no idea what anyone else was saying!
  • Larger Room. With two people in a room, your space is necessarily going to be larger. This is great if you’re sociable because it means everyone usually comes to you for movie nights or gatherings due to the extra space, and you don’t have to go anywhere! This was great for me because I liked to meet up with people with as little effort as possible, preferably already in my pjs. But even if you’re not wanting to do that the extra room is great for other things, such as pretending that you’re into yoga or putting up drying racks if you don’t want to wait for the machines. Also, it means if you’re roomie is a little bit messier, you can just shove all their stuff on their half of the room and keep your side tidy and clean (I never had to do this at all, of course…). I wouldn’t say it’s a reason to share a room of itself, but it’s a nice bonus and you definitely don’t need to worry about not having much space if you’re sharing a room!
  • Blanket Fort. A shared room is just perfect for a blanket fort. Really this should have been Pro number one. Here’s our magnificent creation:

Sharing a room fort

  • They’re hilarious but are made much more difficult in college by the fact that everyone has separate rooms that are individually locked. Not so when you share a room. When I left late one holiday and knew my roommate was coming back first, I managed to get away with wrapping her bed and all her stuff in bubble wrap. The messages when she found out were priceless!

Sharing a room pranks

  • A Best Friend. I know that it isn’t the case for everyone, but I genuinely made my best friend at university because I shared a room with her. When else in your life will you get this opportunity? It’s such a unique experience, to share a room with someone for a year, to make a best friend in such a special way: it’s an opportunity I am so grateful to John’s for giving me.

Cons (and why they usually aren’t that conny…)

  • Sharing a room means you have no personal space. It is true that you will have less personal space sharing a room, but it is genuinely not as bad as that sounds. As an introvert I was really worried about the fact that every moment of my life would now be spent with another person, but this just does not happen: you both have lectures to go to, other people to see, lives to live that aren’t entwined with that of your roommate. Furthermore, you simply learn to be in the same room with your roomie without talking, having your own private time as if the other person wasn’t there. It sounds difficult, but my roomie and I learned how to do this very quickly, and it was fine. Of course, sometimes you really wish the other person wasn’t there to see you accidentally spill a cup of tea all down yourself or burst into tears, but largely it’s absolutely fine.
  • Getting ill. If one of you gets ill, within a week the other will be ill too. Fact.
  • When they go away. When my roomie went home for a weekend I genuinely became a hermit. I couldn’t remember how to function alone, so I spent the whole weekend watching an entire two seasons of Agent Carter because I had no-one to judge me for it. When I emerged on Sunday evening I couldn’t remember how to talk to anyone. This is easily avoidable if you make sure you see people—just don’t get sucked in to the habits of all those crazy people in single rooms and make sure you get some human contact
  • Getting dressed. Honestly, this isn’t a thing. You won’t be getting changed in the bathroom every morning, it really isn’t a big deal. Just trust me.
  • What if I don’t like them? Like I said before, college do really well at matching you up. They don’t always get it right, but the best way you can help them is by being completely honest on your personality form. There is little chance that you will absolutely hate each other, and if you’re not the bestest of friends then it’s a year of your life and you’ll simply benefit from the extra space and having someone else there when you need them. But the much greater chance is that you end up spending a year with someone who you will be gutted you can’t spend more time sharing a room with when first year is done. I was so lucky that I got put in a shared room—don’t let it be an opportunity that you let slip by without considering!

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