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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Introducing My Freshman Year Roommate: Leah Rebecca

Serving as a Resident Assistant on my campus for two years I have heard all the stories about how horrible moving in blind can be. Stories from their roommate stealing their things, to having sex above them. Nothing can surprise me. But I'm here to say, moving in blind isn't always a bad thing, sometimes it can be the very best!

This picture was taken by my mom moment after meeting my new roommate Leah Rebecca.

From the very beginning my Freshman year roommate and I were two completely opposite people. Leah was a city girl, an only child, who had a massive family that came in droves to move her in and stayed a week. I was a country girl, the youngest of three, and a part of a small family that left quickly once my things were out the car. It wasn't until we began talking, however, that we learned more of our differences. Leah loved science and had always wanted to become a food scientist. She was also Jewish, LOVED the color blue, and needed everything to be in its straight order. I, on the other hand, was all about the arts, but still wasn't quite sure what I wanted to major in. I was also a Christian, tended to purchase a lot of pink, and liked a bit of chaos. Despite our differences we were each other's first introduction to college and we gripped onto that.

Leah and I at our first football game together Freshman year.

Leah and I were actually able to move in together a week before anyone else because we had both decided to work in our school's cafeteria and had to go through orientation. This gave us a chance to get to know one another and the campus without the pressure of school.  Our first night we came up with a list of three things every new roommates should start by figuring out:

1. Bed time

2. How to not stick out as freshmen

3. How to stick out as being awesome

The first, bed time, was decided as 10 PM. I can tell you that never once happened. It's still a running joke between us that we ever thought it was possible. But hey, you can't blame us for trying!

The second, not showing our newb status, was decided by taking a walk to every area of campus before our first day. This turned out to be extremely helpful and I would recommend it to anyone! Turned out we actually had the same first class together (Math 103 at 8 AM) and because of our prior tour of campus started out college right on time, in the right location (without a map!), and sitting front row. We thought we were pretty great.

The final step, sticking out as being awesome, we decided would be completed by winning the "best room on campus" contest. We came up with a million and one ways to do our room,  but it turns out nothing can make tiled flooring and creme colored walls look appealing. 

After the week of training and getting acclimated around campus, life started happening and we just took everything one day at a time. The best piece of advice I can give to new roommates is to talk about everything. Leah and I were both strong in our separate faiths, but because we were willing to talk about it and open to hearing the other out we learned a lot about faith from one another. We of course knew our faith's differences, but we also learned our many similarities. Our conversation's not only grew me stronger in my religious understandings, but grew me into a better person. I'll always be thankful for those late night conversations.

Freshman year was filled with new beginnings for both of us, and we were really able to share our high's and low's with one another. Leah joined a sorority, got a crush on a guy, and  was learning how to handle living so far away from home for the first time. I was trying out many new organizations, fell head over heels for a guy, and was trying to figure out how to make lasting relationships on a campus so large. For Leah and I both, we hated our jobs at the cafeteria and made a pact to quit ASAP. It turned out to be quite a year that I would never forget. (You can even check out a funny video we made as procrastination during final's week here.) I even remember when Leah's dad came to pick her up. I was crying over not wanting it to end. Luckily we decided to room together again during Sophomore year in the newest dorms on campus!

I certainly can't say our relationship wasn't all peaches and creme however. We definitely had our share of disagreements. Three pieces of advice: 

1. Never decide to change the room around the day before a test.

2. Changing a room around will never "just take an hour"

3. Sister's before misters.. always. 

A few months into our Sophomore year Leah and I both concluded that our room needed a make over. This, of course, was in the mists of studying for tests we had the next day. Coming up with a sure fire idea of how to adjust our room, we thought it would only take an hour and then we would be back to studying. Unfortunately, it didn't take an hour. In fact, it took more than 8 hours. Here's a hint to everyone changing their rooms: measure before beginning. I can't tell you how many ways we tried to change our room that simply did not work due to failed eye-guessing measurements. By the end of it we were getting so frustrated with not having the room completed, and the increasing pressure of needing to study that we exploded at one another. It wasn't a shining moment for either of us, but from it we learned what each other's breaking points are, and to never reach them again. 

Leah and I our Senior year for the ROSE BOWL in California!
On a different note, during the middle of the second semester of our Sophomore year Leah met a boy. I'll be honest as I was with her, from the beginning I never liked him. I knew she could do better and I never felt that he really respected her. By the end of Sophomore year they were dating, and I wouldn't say we exactly had a "falling out" but there was certainly distance. Most nights I was left alone in my room as she slept over at his place, so I rarely saw her. When we did see one another we tried not to step on each other's toes by bringing him up, but it was very difficult. I wanted to support her in her relationship, but I couldn't bare him. Knowing that it was important to her, I would hang out with them as often as he would allow (yes, when HE would allow...). I knew the next year would be different as I was going to become and RA in a different dorm and she would be moving in to her sorority's house. Saying goodbye to that year was hard, but I think we were both ready for the change. Piece of advice: No matter how great your roommate is, living in a 12X12 room with one other person is hard. 

During our Junior year Leah was fully involved in her sorority house, her relationship, and school. I was completely occupied with being an RA, leading a few organizations, and school. We still made time for one another and had hang out sessions between classes. It was great seeing her so happy with everything and I still felt closer to her than anyone else on campus, despite anything that may have gone on the year before. We were sister's, even if it meant that we didn't see each other every day, nothing would get in the way of our sisterhood. 

To this day I say to everyone I meet, your freshman year roommate really can go from being a person you co-habitat with to being your BEST friend. Yes, Leah and I made a million and one great memories during our years living together, but Senior year proved it.

Our Senior year was the hardest/craziest/toughest/best year either of us had ever gone through. First, Leah's boyfriend of 1.5 years broke up with her out of the blue. She had given him everything and was even planning on moving with him following graduation when he just slammed the door in her face. She was devastated and lost. I hated seeing her like this. I had no helpful words except my sheer presence, which I offered daily. We would text late into the night and remind one another of all the great things our futures could now hold. From it she was able to remember the dream she had since she was little girl, to move to Israel and join the army. I'm so excited to announce that in exactly 7 months she'll be doing just that!

Second, a very close friend of mine was killed in a car crash. Leah was out when I called, but as soon as she found out she rushed over with our other best friend Rita and stayed with me the whole night. They had a million other things they could have been doing, but instead they stayed up with me talking, watching movies, and eating pizza. Even throughout the weekend they allowed me to get away and stay at their place. I can never thank them enough for their kindness and generosity that night and the many nights to come. 

Third, Leah and I flew across the country to California to watch our school win the Rose Bowl (pictured above)! It was a once in a lifetime, full circle experience. It was with Leah whom I went to my first college football game with. And it was with Leah I watched my last football game as a student all the way in California!! 

Fourth and finally, we graduated. We both cried for one another as we walked across the stage, shaking hands with our college's dean and receiving our diploma. It was in that moment we could look back at all the up's and down's we had had in college and see how each of us had been there for one another throughout every experience. I honestly can't imagine having gone through college without her. As for the future? I don't know where our futures will take us, but I know that we will stay friends. She will always be a part of my life, no matter how far we get separated, no matter how long we don't talk. 

Leah and I in our cap and gown in front of the room where it all began (A428 Bailey Hall)

So no, I can't say going in blind will always work out. In fact, I can't even say you two will end up friends. But I can say that if you stick it out, keep an open dialogue, and fight through all the bad times, your Freshman year roommate may just become your very best friend.

Love you Leah Rebecca!

HayleyKaye :)