I had to postpone writing this blog until I could cool down and look back on this year's roommate disaster with a positive attitude. It is now that my school year is over and my apartment drama has long passed that I can look at my experience through a different lens. Last summer I left El Paso with nothing but positivity and excitement for my Junior year of college but as soon as I set foot in my new Austin apartment, a dark cloud formed over the new school year.
I honestly didn't think that my living situation could get much worse than what it had been last year. I figured that after a scary fight between my two roommates who hated each other, a unexpected move-out, and a very unexpected move in (a random new roommate, and her very noisy dog) things could only get better. I was sadly mistaken. Me and my best friend/roommate Bethany, and the other roommate (who will not be named) decided it was a good idea to move into a new apartment for our Junior year and leave the new roommate and her dog. Moving in to the new apartment was a disaster. On top of me and Beth of moving all of our stuff into the the new apartment, our other roommate expected us to help her move her hoard. Let me remind you it is August in Austin, the weather is a mixture of extreme heat and humidity and she has enough junk to star in an episode of Hoarders. Me and Beth decided that after we were done moving our stuff we would help her with what we could and then take a break to go have dinner. Our roommate was not pleased with our decision.
The next morning we received a text message from her stating how hurt she was by us for not helping her unpack her hoard. Bethany's mother tried to reason with her in person, but our roommate yelled at her disrespectfully. After that day things in the apartment were beyond tense. She took the liberty of decorating the common area and moving our things without asking our opinion. We tried to stay out of each other's way and our greetings were awkward and forced. Once our fourth roommate moved in we had a meeting to discuss what we could change to make the apartment a friendlier living situation. However mine and Beth's opinions and suggestions were shot down and after a couple of weeks things went right back to being tense and awkward. Then things took a turn for the worst.
By October our apartment had become divided, me and Beth and the other two. We stopped acknowledging each other when we would enter and leave the apartment. They accused us of not cleaning and set up an cleaning schedule that they would hardly ever follow but expected us to. They would BLAST their music during all hours of the day (the worst was at 6 in the morning). Me and Beth were locked out of the apartment by them several times. Sometimes we wouldn't eat for fear of going out into the kitchen and having an awkward run in with them. We spent more time in coffee shops and libraries than our own apartment. In February they stopped cleaning the kitchen altogether and we received a very rude text message from them accusing us yet again of being inconsiderate and dirty, when we were never even in the apartment. On several occasions we had heard them loudly saying rude and hurtful things about us on the phone and even in the common area. It was no use trying to make amends or work things out, we were just not compatible with these girls.
By March we decided we just couldn't keep living with them, it was affecting our study habits, eating patterns, and probably even our mental health. We were lucky enough to find a two bedroom apartment where we could finish out our lease in. So on a Friday when the roommates were gone we quickly packed our stuff and moved out without so much as a goodbye.
Actual note left on our door
Life in the new apartment has been amazing, I sometimes wonder how I even lived with those girls. While my living situation in that apartment was a nightmare, in a way I am grateful for it. It that mess of a living situation mine and Beth's friendship became stronger than ever. In order to deal we had to learn to see even the ugliest things in a positive light, if it wasn't for our sense of humor we would have never made it out of there in one piece. We had to learn to be patient and calm, but we also had to recognize when it was just time to get out! The most amazing thing though was what we learned when we shared our experience with others. Yes, we got a lot of hilarious suggestions on how we should deal but we also realized that so many people had experienced roommate drama during college. We were definitely not alone in our struggle. This is why I want to use my experience to encourage anyone who is thinking about living with roommates to do these things:
1. Choose your roommates WISELY. Try to pick roommates whom you have things in common with. As a student you should try to live with students who have a similar schedule as you. Your roommate shouldn't assume that your apartment is the equivalent of a bar or club, and they should understand the value of QUIET time.
2. Communicate! If your roommate is doing something that you don't agree with find a nice way to tell them how you feel. Chances are they were totally unaware that their actions were bothering you.
3. Be considerate. When you have more than one roommate it may be difficult to know who needs quiet time, who needs the kitchen, or who needs the bathroom (if you share one). Make yourselves aware of each other's schedules to avoid any inconsiderate behavior. Always give your roommate the same respect that you expect them to give you.
4. When all else fails, GET OUT. If you know that you roommate situation has gotten to the point of no repair, and it is affecting your happiness then move out. You are paying just as much as they are and deserve the equal opportunity to enjoy your apartment. You should never have to sacrifice your sleep, study time or even eating patterns because of a roommate's inconsiderate behavior.
Living with someone is not easy, but it is an experience many of us college-bound Latinas may have to go through. I encourage everyone to allow only cooperation, understanding and positivity and into your living space. College is your time to shine and no one (not even a few crazy roommates) should get in the way of that.