When I was applying for housing at North Dakota State University, I requested a studio apartment. I thought that as a graduate teaching assistant I would need all the time in the world to plan lessons, work on my papers, and grade coursework--which was true. However, all of the studios were full, so the residence life office assigned me to a quad room with three roommates. At the beginning of this experience, I was not sure what to expect, though that quickly changed. When my roommates and I first moved in together we all kept our distance. However, soon enough we would all meet in the kitchen late at night looking for something to eat, so we sat together and chatted about the day. Very quickly we got to know each other better and became more comfortable in each other’s company.
Our creative ideas sparkled when we worked together. One of my roommates has a TV and DVD player. The other one brought a cable from home. So we had the TV in the common area. And we decided that Friday would be our movie night. It has become a weekend ritual where we buy snacks, or cook something, and watch a move chosen by one of the roommates (we select in turns).Additionally, we regularly cook one or two meals together for dinner and over the weekend. Cooking has become very creative as we try each other’s recipes. It is a real mix of cultures.
Among all this, I forgot that I was on the waiting list for a studio. In the month of November, I received an email from the residence life office saying that I have to move to my studio room as soon as possible. My roommates and I were shocked. My roommates encouraged me to talk to the director of the residence hall I live in to see if I could stay. They even came with me to talk to the RA first to ask if I could stay. I was really touched that they stood with me. The RA said he was not sure if there was something that could be done, so we went back to our room. We started thinking about packing and going to see each other every day. We planned on continuing to still go shopping together, share food, and keep each other updated by using the phone application “WhatsApp”.
After talking to the RA, I wrote an email to the director asking when I should be moving out and he replied the next day saying that I could stay! We all thought this was a good reason for a celebration since it was clear we had become much closer after living together for only a short time. We kept our celebration small and we bought ice cream and stayed in talking about what we would have done if I had actually left.
I am now glad to be in a quad with my roommates. We can have all the quiet time when we need it, but we enjoy learning about each other and living together.
Ibtissem Belmihoub is an Algerian Fulbrighter pursuing an MA in English at North Dakota State University-Fargo.