Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
April 12, 2024

Living with strangers: My happy experience

By SHAYNA FAUL | August 29, 2023

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COURTESY OF SHAYNA FAUL

Faul reflects on the things that helped her adapt to amicably living with roommates.

All incoming freshmen and sophomores at Hopkins are required to live on campus with their peers. This can be one of the biggest, but often overlooked, adjustments for most students coming out of high school. I know it was for me, so I’d like to offer some insight into my experience with my roommate and suitemates in my freshman year.

As a member of the Class of 2026, I was among the first to experience university-assigned roommates when we entered Hopkins. As with any interruption in expected norms, this policy change was met with mixed opinions upon its introduction. 

I was slightly taken aback when I discovered that I would have to fill out a survey that would be used to match me to a mystery roommate. My disappointment grew stronger as I listened to my high school friends tell me about chatting up their classmates-to-be on each of their college Discord group chats and strategizing on landing a simpatico partner from a list of potential suitors. 

I had met a group of close friends at Hopkins through social media over the summer and had been anticipating rooming with one of them. The new policy, however, shattered this dream. Nevertheless, we endeavored to outwit this pending abrogation of our pact by working together to fill out our surveys as similarly as possible before submitting them. 

Filling out the Lifestyle Questionnaire was an exercise in the bizarre. Why had I been asked to provide the temperature of my preferred habitat? Was I to be matched with a sentient being on a cline between a polar bear and a tropical sloth? I supposed a temperate climate could induce peace by avoiding the confinement of the cold-blooded with the hot-blooded, but still, I had my doubts as to the scientific methodology behind this effort to promote symbiotic coexistence. 

My trepidation heightened as the big reveal for housing partners drew ever nearer, and I grew excited to find out which building I would be assigned to and who would share this living space with me.

Although I did not end up getting paired up with any of my aforementioned friends, I did get my first choice of Wolman and was matched up with a roommate and two other suitemates in suite 210.

I reached out to my three suitemates over the summer and we quickly set up a group chat to introduce ourselves (I was excited to find out that my roommate and I shared the exact same birthday).

Over Orientation Week, my roommate and I spent time bonding with each other and discovering our common interests. As the year progressed, our friendship grew closer, enhanced by weekly ice cream nights, when we would share our love for good drama and watch a random TV show or movie together on Netflix. We also shared each other’s class schedules and set aside days we could meet up for lunch at each of the dining locations on campus.

You and your roommate may be very different from each other, but I believe that spending time getting to know each other and finding common ground is one of the most beneficial ways to make your living space pleasant and enjoyable.

Fun things we did together included walking trips to Hampden, restaurant dates (we enjoyed getting acai bowls), movie nights (of course), celebrating Galentine’s night with cake and having our shared birthday dinner together at Kong (Pocha)! 

Though my roommate and I grew close, we still maintained our own personal times when we kept to ourselves, our own families and our own friend groups.

Looking back, I feel that the greatest strength in our relationship was our ability to communicate effectively with each other. Whenever we had even the slightest problem we would immediately tell each other and get it off our minds. This prevented us from bottling up resentment (which could lead to explosive conflicts or passive-aggressive recriminations that some of our friends have experienced with their roommates). 

We are all human beings and make mistakes from time to time, but learning to communicate, forgive and move on from small issues is one of the keys to a healthy relationship with your live-in partners.

As a suite, all four of us worked together to keep 210 a peaceful refuge, free of arguments and fights by staying on good terms with each other and respecting each other’s boundaries. My suite may have had an easier time with this, as we all tended to automatically express deference to each others’ personal spaces and property. However, for others, laying out explicit rules through verbal and written communication may be the necessary way. 

In the coming year, my roommate and I will continue our adventure in dorm living at the sophomore living space of Homewood Apartments, while our suitemates room with their own friends in the same building.

I may have been skeptical of the matching process at first, but I am more than happy to say that I have had an extremely pleasant and rewarding experience with my freshman suitemates. I also believe that this provided a great opportunity to meet new people that I might have otherwise never had the chance to talk to or associate with, owing to our completely different majors and backgrounds. 

Therefore, my biggest advice to you all would be to always keep an open mind and encourage open channels of communication! Starting off on the right foot with your suitemates-to-be will be the first building block toward a relationship based on mutual understanding for one another! 


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