A pink taxi

A pink taxi

April 18, 2011

Roommates




For about a ten year period, various dorm rooms constituted my home.  My first experience away from home was when I went to summer camp in Vermont and bunked in a tiny cabin with four girls. French girls, my cousin, a friend and future penpal from Tahiti, and a Canadian synchronized swimmer all shared a cabin with me for two different summers.





When I left for boarding school, in Geneva, I was completely stunned by my own homesickness, at age 14.  I was coupled with a Spanish girl who happened to be two years my junior and who didn't speak a word of English or French. Her name was Rosario and I could barely communicate with her because of my very weak spanish skills. I wasn't the most agreable of roommates either, busy as I was adjusting to my new life, attempting to fit in,  in a new school and country. What I did learn to say in Spanish was "apaga la luz", which means "turn the lights off."




I remained a boarder for two more years. By then, I had grown accustomed to homesickness, that acking feeling that never really dissipated with time, and I eventually earned  my own privacy with a room of my own. I have always been the solitary type, and I savored the space and time alone to dwell on my academics, books and reveries.



When I went to Smith College, as a Freshman, I couldn't avoid the roommate situation once again. Sony came from Nepal, a nationality I had never encountered before, even in Dubai. Katmandu literally sounded like the other end of the world to me. I did learn that her culture was very similar to India's. We never became true friends as I never sought to befriend roommates, and similarly never chose to room with a friend when given the opportunity. Once again, living with a total stranger, I struggled to adapt to a new system, a different homesickness settling in, with the sudden dread of being in an all-women's institution.

One lesson I will share with my children when they reach that stage, is to  always maintain a certain type of formality with roommates and to never start fights. In college, it was really up to the two of us to create comfortable situations for each of us, and set our personal rules of cohabitation. Having a roommate is almost like entering into an arranged marriage, only luckily for me, this cohabitation was purely  for academic purposes and lasted only a short amount of time!

4 comments:

  1. I only ever had one roommate in boarding school. It was my first year at Florimont and I shared a room with a very French catholic extremist. Luckily, it was only for a year. I never had a roommate my freshman year at Vassar. My roommate never showed up. My senior year, I share a campus appartment with 3 other students. Very very bad decision!

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  2. My daughter should comment on this subject, having roomed with her two cousins, separately, for several years! Right now she doesn't have time to scratch her head with three kids, but I think she wouldn't mind going back to "that" place for a little while!

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  3. My first experience with boarding school was at an English public school at the age of 15.It was my first experience abroad,which did not last more than 3 weeks,after which I transferred to an English boarding school run by the Quakers in the mountains of Lebanon.I was sleeping in a large room that accomodated 12 kids,all accustomed to the rigourour way of life of a boarding school except for myself.I passed through all the tricks and jokes until I adjusted to that way of life.I was able to take my revenge a year later when I became a Monitor and then a Prefect(following the order of the English system).To this date,some of my best life long friend are my roomates of the three years I spent as a boarder at Brummnan Highschool.

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  4. Hey! I was a french Canadian synchronize swimmer who went to Brown Ledge camp!!! Maybe we were bunkies?

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