When I was applying for college, I was concerned with supplemental essays, SAT scores, scholarship applications and letters of recommendation. I never took a moment to stop and wonder "What happens once I get in?"
Finally, the fateful day arrived where I made my college decision. I bought a sweatshirt from the George Washington University store. My mom decorated my High School locker with our colors. And most importantly, I sighed a breath of relief imagining how refreshing it was going to be to ride out the rest of my senior year without the stress of college deadlines weighing on my shoulders.
Unfortunately, that blissful serenity was cut short when I joined a Facebook group of admitted students, where profiles of smiling teenagers flashed on my screen accompanied with the fateful "I'm looking for a roommate."
A roommate. I obviously knew that I needed a roommate. It was common sense, yet for some reason, I had failed to consider the logistics of finding a roommate until that moment.
See, my mom helped me through my college process, but times were different back then. She described showing up to her college on the first day, not knowing who she had been randomly assigned. There was no Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram to help you communicate with the girls on the other side of the country-- or sometimes even on the other side of the world.
This was a new, unexplored territory where my mother's wealth of knowledge sadly fell short.
Lucky for me, I was accepted into an honors program which restricted the list of girls available to be my roommate to a list of about twenty-five. We created a google document which asked basic questions like "Are you a night owl or earlier riser?"
Even still, I had no idea how to pick someone who I would be compatible to live with for the next year of my life. The stakes felt high, but I was reassured by the fact that I grew up sharing a room with my siblings, learning some important skills about being low-maintenance and tolerant of others' habits.
I read through the list and found someone whose answers sounded similar to mine, figuring we had enough in common to be amicable, if nothing more, throughout the school year. Her name was Riya, and she had a cute Instagram, so I messaged her asking if she wanted to try and room together. She agreed and we put each other down as roommates when applying for housing.
Looking back, that decision was the best one that I made when preparing for GW.
Throughout my freshman year, I have heard horror stories about roommates who fight all the time, steal each other's clothes, refuse to clean or try and micromanage the other's sleep schedule.
All the while, I count my lucky stars that my roommate is not only sane but someone who I genuinely look forward to spending time with. We share ice cream and inside jokes. When the weather was heating up and the university refused to turn on the air conditioning, we even shared our fans.
It comforts me to know that at the end of even the worst days, I can come back to my room and laugh or cry (sometimes both) with her by my side.
I remember once, I was having trouble with another group of friends. I felt alone and isolated. I felt like there was nobody who I could talk to apart from my mom or my best friend from home, who are both supportive and incredible but don't know any of the characters in my life in the same way as someone here at school.
I have a bad habit of struggling to reach out to people when I'm going through something, figuring I am strong enough to handle it on my own.
While that may sometimes be true, thanks to Riya, I didn't have to. I ended up telling her everything. She listened to me rant, understanding how I was hurt, and advising me on the situation.
I felt so much better after our conversation, and the best part was, I didn't have to leave the comfort of my bed for the entire conversation.
Her friendship reminded me of my family, and honestly, she has acted like a sister to me over the past two semesters.
It is so wild reflecting on the year, knowing that next semester we will be going our separate ways, living with respective friends in buildings a couple of blocks away from each other.
However, even when the posters are off the walls and signs reading "Riya" and "Emilie Joe" no longer stick to the outside of our door, I know that the bond we created in room 217 will never leave us.