If you haven’t read ROOMIES yet, NOW IS THE TIME! I got to read this book before it came out and let me tell you… Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr totally knocked this one out of the park! If you don’t know much about it, ROOMIES is the story of two girls in their summer right after high school and before college. They’re both from different backgrounds and the book highlights their own personal lives as well as their email interactions with each other as the summer progresses.
The great thing about ROOMIES is that even if you didn’t have the “traditional” summer after high school going into college, it’s still easy to relate to these two girls and their stories. I actually did NOT have the same experience although I identified with so many similar aspects of moving in with roommates and going away to college.
** Small disclaimer: I will be telling some negative stories about my roommate experience in college but although they were tough times when we went through them, I don’t harbor ill will towards the roommate we had the disagreements with. To prevent from slandering her name all over town (not like you know her, but still), I’m going to use initials for all of my college roommates instead of actual names. **
The backstory: I actually didn’t go away to college right away. Having no idea what I wanted to do as a career and the fact that my sister didn’t go away to college (I have a tendency to look to her for advice) left me unsure of my future. We could have afforded me going away to college my freshman year, maybe taking out some student loans to help, but my parents (being the experienced and bright ones in the family) came up with a sort of a bargain for me: If I stayed at home and went to community college for two years and got my Associate’s degree, I could apply to a university my junior year and move straight into an apartment as well as being able to take my mom’s old car as my own (her buying a new one) since I would need it to commute to classes.
As much as I wanted to have that “traditional” (or should I say “expected”, in my town and circle of friends) college experience that so many of my classmates were about to have, I took the deal, accepting ownership of a nice little Hyundai Elantra. I actually applied for the scholarship that my high school offers to one person in the senior class and got it, making the deal even sweeter. I attended my first two years of college totally and completely free (with the exception of books and lab fees) and didn’t have to pay for room & board, food, tuition… nada. My parents were thrilled because it saved them even MORE money and totally helped pay for my two years at Illinois State without having to apply for student loans.
I knew I would still have a friend at home because one of my best friends, Lisa, was actually doing the same exact thing.and we even took a few classes together! It didn’t bother me that I was still living at home because, well, it was all I ever knew at that point! Lisa and I had our own friends from high school who were doing the same thing as well and we’d take a few adventures down to visit our friends at their fancy schmancy universities to give us a taste of the sweet life before we actually moved down there ourselves.
Junior Year: Junior year was my first year away at college. I went down to Normal, IL to check out apartments with my parents and with my future roommate AR, who was still one of my best friends from high school. We had planned to get an apartment with us two, her roommate from the dorms, LT, and her twin sister LJ . Long story short, we had looked at a few apartments and decided on the cheaper of the selections, but without knowing it, LJ had signed a lease on the more expensive of the options so we wouldn’t lose it… but we couldn’t afford the more expensive one. We all felt really bad and really awkward but AR, LT, and I signed the lease for the cheaper apartment which forced LJ to sublet the more expensive one and she ended up living in the dorms junior year instead of with us. (Looking back, I don’t know why she had to live in the dorms… I think something like breaking a deposit or still having to pay some kind of rent…? So she couldn’t afford to live with us that year.) This also put us in a tough spot (as much as we all loved LJ) and forced US to sublet as well. Just a room. To a total stranger when we all knew each other. Since I was still living at home and NOT down at school when this all happened, I was totally out of the loop… Barely knowing this was going on until it all happened, unable to meet people that could potentially be living in our apartment and only finding out who did get chose after the fact. A girl that LT chose that was more like her but that AR and I had nothing in common with. Sooooo. That was super awkward.
My parents helped me move down to school and I moved in a week early to try to find a job, explore the campus (since I was a newbie) and settle in. My dad and I had a huge fight before they left and I was left in a strange apartment in a strange town WITH a stranger (mostly. LT was there but we had only met a few times when I had visited AR in the years before and we had never really talked before). I think I spent the first day crying my eyes out and holing up in my room.
Junior year got better though! I worked in the bookstore for a week and once they didn’t need summer help anymore, I had to find a new job all over again. LT and LJ both worked at the restaurant in the Student Center called McAlister’s — and guys. This was the best job of my life. I made friends, had fantastic bosses, had my first big crush in college (which didn’t pan out, but that’s clearly all for the better now. See: Engagement ring. And don’t tell him, but some fuel for my WIP), and actually had a ton of fun making sandwiches, salads, and spuds. Another story for another day, but thinking about McAlister’s is so bittersweet because I had such fond memories of working there and the people I became friends with but I don’t talk to ANY of them anymore. But that’s more of a post-college story than anything full of messy details. (Intrigued now, aren’t you?)
Random roommate ended up only staying for the first semester so then it was AR, LT and I for the rest of the year. It was actually hard with us three because AR and I knew each other from high school and AR & LT were roommates in the dorm. LT was totally cool but we just had such different personalities that it often created conflicts… not of epic proportions (yet) but AR and I had our high school friends that we hung out with and LT didn’t always feel comfortable hanging out with them because they weren’t her people, ya know? So although we invited her out, she’d come with a few times but often times she stayed behind or went to hang out with her other friends that weren’t the group that we hung out with. We ended up getting in a few spats because she felt left out, which I can totally understand but AR and I felt like we weren’t doing anything wrong since we invited her. Looking back, we probably should have made a better effort to have more “roomie nights” but the divide started growing already.
Senior Year: Senior year things started to work out! LJ was able to move in with us (yay!) and the four of us signed a lease for a new apartment, closer to the center of campus. The place wasn’t as nice and somehow I was the one who ended up parking on the street instead of in the parking lot (we only got two parking spaces) so…. upside, I learned how to parallel park and downside…. mostly everything else about parking on the street. Having to move my car every 24 hours to not get a ticket, someone ripping part of my car off and then driving away, scratches, not being able to find a parking space… Sometimes it was a real nightmare. I tried to suck it up and just avoid the conflict of bargaining to park in the lot (because I’m too damn nice sometimes) but of course my dad pushed me to get into the lot every once in a while and rotate because it should be even and fair. (In hindsight, I JUST WANTED TO AVOID CONFLICT. It was such an awkward spot to be in with my dad pushing me one way and desire to NOT have fights pushing me in the other.)
Oh my god! I almost forgot THE EPIC FIGHTS. The epic fights. The summer before AR and I came back from home and moved into our new apartment, LT got a dog. An adorable, sweet, black lab puppy. At first we were like, “Awww, puppy! She’s so cute!” Except, OH WAIT. One: our apartment doesn’t allow dogs. Two: PUPPY. APARTMENT. PEEING ON THE FLOOR. Three: We like dogs but we did NOT want a dog in our apartment. How were we supposed to bring this up? Why in the world didn’t she talk to us about it? And you know my parents were going to throw their two cents in there because they didn’t want us getting in trouble and they’re parents. That’s what they do. (Except it was yet another awkward spot of parent versus roommate.) I think I partially blocked out these roommate fights, honestly, because it was so incredibly tense during these times. We fought with LT and still had to live in extremely close quarters. Eventually she agreed to get rid of the dog because it would be too big for the apartment and it was hard to train a puppy. But then……… a new dog came around. A small dog. That still wandered everywhere, forcing us to close our doors all of the time so the dog didn’t hop up on our beds or wander in our rooms. (Furthermore enforced after the dog left fleas in my bed, leaving nice itchy spots all over.)
Things finally came to the breaking point when THE epic fight of all epic fights happened. It was the very end of winter break and my other roommates had already gone back to school and I was due to leave in a day or two when I heard that things came to PHYSICAL BLOWS. I guess a big fight broke out and AR finally said what she had been dying to say with no holding back. She and LT ended up physically fighting with LJ jumping in. I was not there to witness it, but AR filled me in on everything and needless to say, it was VERY uncomfortable coming back after that. I was MAD and upset that I had to live with that situation in the house.
We actually went on spring break together senior year and LT didn’t come with, which was another sensitive subject. We invited her and she said no and I think at the time, it was better for her and for us but it was still a very tense situation and naturally, she still felt left out.
NOW: I don’t still talk to LT but I honestly and truly don’t hold any ill will towards her. We had a lot of hard times rooming together, but it was really because we were such different people. I tried to be the least confrontational I could be but sometimes things just had to get put out there. I DO still talk to AR and I’m actually going to LJ’s wedding this year! It was definitely not a situation I’d like someone else to be put in but we all learned several things from these situations and I hope she doesn’t hold any bad feelings towards us either!
Despite the fact that I used initials to not throw anyone’s names out there, I do still want to share pictures from my time at college! So… enjoy these pictures without knowing who these people actually are haha! You can at least tell who I am and some are the roommates… Some are just friends. So enjoy the PICTURES FROM THE GOOD TIMES! <3
There you have it, my dears! My college experience in a nutshell! So many of these college experiences — both good and bad — have also influence my current WIP (which I actually haven’t really touched since NaNo buuut…) so you can see how much they’ve shaped my life as well as much I still carry around from that time! It’s been a pretty big deal in shaping my life in more than one way.
And now for the giveaway! Little, Brown is offering one copy of the fantastic book that inspired these posts (and my CRAZY LONG roommate story — sorry I shared my WHOLE college experience with you)… ROOMIES by Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr! I read this book back in December and totally loved it so I’m so excited to be able to give one away!!
Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr are going on tour this winter too!! They won’t be anywhere near me in Illinois but check out the schedule below and see if they’re coming to a city near you!
- January 12, 2014 – New York, NY: McNally Jackson [venue link]
- January 15, 2014 – Salt Lake City, UT: The King’s English [venue link]
- January 16, 2014 – Provo, UT: Provo Library [venue link]
- February 4, 2014 – San Francisco, CA: Books Inc, Opera Plaza [venue link]
- February 5, 2015 – Petaluma, CA: Copperfield’s Books [venue link]
Hope you get to see these amazing authors on tour!
Want to win a copy of the book? Just enter the Rafflecopter below! US entries only please!!
26 thoughts on “A ROOMIE Story + Giveaway!”
My college roomie story is kind of boring. My freshman year, they put me with a sophomore transfer student. She had a boyfriend who lived 45 minutes away, so she went home every weekend to be with him. I often had the whole room to myself for days at a time. In fact, my suitemates were a sophomore and a junior who had local boyfriends and spent all of their time at the boyfriend’s apartments — so I often had the whole suite to myself. After that, I became an RA and didn’t have to share a room again until I had apartment roommates after college. Now some of those have been horror stories. Apparently I have a tendency to live with complete slobs. My only hope is that one day I can have a roommate or partner who actually likes to clean so I don’t have to always do it myself.
Oh, though one of my slobby roommates did bring home a dog without asking me first. I already had two cats and we were only allowed to have two pets on our lease. The cats hated the puppy, and my roommate never took care of it properly. I would take it out for walks and play with it while she was at work, but I didn’t tell her I did that. I felt bad for the dog, but didn’t want my roommate thinking she could count on me to raise the dog for her. When she moved out she ended up giving the dog away, which is good because she was not ready for the responsibility. It still irritates me when people get pets, but don’t take good care of them and don’t realize the lifelong commitment they are making to the animal.
We had a roommate that was legit a pathological liar. She would just lie about everything. Her boyfriend that she had for 4 years thought she was living at her parents house for the first 7 months that we were living there (until he followed her there and confronted everyone in the house, which was scary and weird). But the best lie was when at the beginning of the spring semester she announced that she wasn’t taking classes because she got an internship at a bank. I thought that was pretty cool and life went on….. except she seemed like she was never going to the internship (which if you are getting college credit for it you have to do certain amounts of hours) and when we asked she would just say “oh they called and said they didn’t need me today”. Then one day she made a big show of getting all dressed up and ready to go to work. I went to class but found out that it was cancelled when I got there… I go home and there the girl is sleeping in her bed. Stuff like that was so weird. So eventually me and my other roommate ended up calling the bank and asking for her. They said not only do they not have anyone there by that name, but that they do NOT even take interns. We were like WHAT!!!! It was a lie the whole time. And the thing is we could have cared LESS if she went to school, work, or sat on her ass. We just didn’t like being lied to for NO reason. UGH it still pisses me off.
Your roommate story sounds pretty awkward too. Living with people is so hard sometimes!
had one who took my stuff
I haven’t been to college yet… but I do have a roommate. A life long roommate- my sister. It has its pros and cons… 🙂
It’s my first year of college, so I’m still making memories! Anyways, I remember one day my roommate and some of our friends decided to followed the source of this ice-cream truck music at night! It was like 9 pm or something. It was pretty spontaneous and hilarious. We gave up when we went a bit too far off campus. 😀
Crazy college roommate stories….WHOO WEE do I have some stores to tell!
In the 4 months I was away at college (which I had to leave because of financial situations) I managed to get not one but TWO crazy roommates! The first one I met on our college’s fb page and we mutually decided to room together. We talked for months and she even came to visit me once before moving in. I offered for her to stay at my place until I moved tot he new place a little over a month later. Well, apparently my place wasn’t good enough so she moved to the house and me and the girl we had agreed to rent with had to pay a month’s rent without actually being there! That should have been my first warning from the get go, but sadly, it was not. I could go into detail about how she left me and out other roommate Lynsey at the hospital after Lynsey had heart problems and forced us to walk home IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT BY OURSELVES while she got high. Or the time when she refused to give us a ride to school (because she was the only one with the car) even though we were all going to the same class, but I think you get the general idea of how terrible she was. She ended up leaving a month later but not without sending her mother on us first. Just terrible.
So the second crazy roommate was to replace the first. She was just crazy. She had serious bipolar problems, would constantly come home late and loud, threw pots and pans at us, and pretty much bullied me into moving out. (I was a very shy and didn’t trust well at the time). She brought her equally crazy friends over all the time who proceeded to judge me and Lynsey and try to give me constant ‘makeovers’ and try to take us out to some pretty sketchy places. To make matters worse, this trust fund baby who had all the money in the world NEVER paid her part of the rent on time, if at all. She always made some excuse. It was awful.
In the end I went back home and managed to get off the lease AND get my $800 security deposit back. I was super lucky. So there is my little roommate horror story!
We learn from the good and the bad! I had some less than pleasant experiences with my roommate first year but fortunately got along really well with my suite-mates.
Roomies is my next read and I can’t wait to see how I can relate to this story.
I kept seeing your tweets about this and couldn’t wait to read it!! Your roommate sounds a little cray. Who gets a dog without consulting your roommates?? That’s kinda sad that she had to get rid of it though. I hope she found it a good home. I didn’t have the traditional college experience at all. I went to Northern Illinois University which was very close to my parents house. My first year and a half, I lived in an apartment with my boyfriend (now husband), but then he got a job in Washington state and had to move. I moved back into my parents house for the remainder of college since it was so close. I actually graduated in two and a half years with my bachelors so it wasn’t very long. After I graduated, I picked up and moved to Washington with my then fiance. So unfortunately I don’t have any crazy roomie stories to share. I do have two sisters though and things could get pretty crazy back in the day. Lots of taking clothes without asking, never returning them, losing my stuff. Taking my computer. Ridiculous things that only sisters would do.
It’s been so great reading everyone’s roommate stories today. It makes me realize how happy I am now that I live alone. I would have been so mad if my roommate showed up with a dog without asking, especially if it had fleas! That’s terrible. And while having physical fights with roommates is bad, I always got stuck with really passive aggressive ones who would leave me notes (even one time slipping one under my door when she could hear me inside listening to music). But then this was the same roommate who would leave dishes in the sink for months and then would punish me for not cleaning the bathroom by taking off the shower curtain! She was odd!
Thanks for the story and the giveaway!
Cassi @ My Thoughts Literally
I can see where you might get some crazy inspiration for your WIP! Honestly, I’ve had a very tame roomie experience in comparison. While my roomies and I got into crazy epic fights at times, they were almost always because we cared about what was happening to each other. I had the same roomies for FOUR years, which pretty much cemented our bond for life. Thanks for sharing your roomie story, B!
I love reading roommate stories! It’s crazy how rooming with someone can completely change your relationship.
As much as I hated the school I went to Freshman year, I do not regret that year at all. I learned so much about not only life but myself that year. I got a random assignment (since I did not know a single person!) My story was similar to EB and Lauren’s just because we began to confide in each other when we felt distance between our friends from high school. I still remember adding my roommate on FB and being like “ARE YOU WHO I THINK YOU ARE? OTHERWISE IGNORE PLEASE”. We didn’t have to worry about a microwave or mini fridge since they were included but I said I would bring and TV and she said she would bring a rug. At first I was like seriously a rug? but once I went into someone’s room who didn’t have a rug I was like thank the heavens we have a rug. Overall my roommate experience was positive (expect the time I got yelled at for snapping my gum) and I still talk to my roommate once or twice a year. It is hard when you are no longer close distance wise. I will say we did talk a lot sophomore year even thought I transferred and I think if I stayed at the school we would be closer.
Good luck with that WIP 🙂
Awww that’s such an awesome story!!! I’m so happy you had such a good roommate experience! Thanks for sharing 😀 I love that you had a semi-Lauren/EB experience haha!
Love the pictures & I can totally relate to your story. I had so many different roommates in college and it was the worst when there was tension & drama loaded into a tiny apartment. I’m sad I don’t keep with more people from college because they were so important to me at the time. But that’s the way it goes, I guess.
Also, good luck with your WIP! So many goofy relationships from my own life have found their way into mine, too. 🙂
I totally agree! I tend to avoid tension & drama and for it all to be cramped in a small apartment… That was the toughest part!
Thanks so much for commenting!!!
I had FANTASTIC luck with roommates, for the most part. I moved into a dorm with a random roommate my freshman year. I was so scared we wouldn’t get along, but she was amazing. Four days after I moved in, I turned 18. It sucked being away from friends and family for such a big birthday, but I didn’t say anything to her. Didn’t matter, because she found out somehow and woke up at **3 AM** to bake my cookies and buy helium balloons to surprise me. After knowing me for only four days. We roomed together for two years and I got to visit her in France when we both studied abroad. To this day, we still call each other “Best Roommate Ever.”
My senior year, I moved in with three friends. Unbeknownst to me, two of them were already having issues with the third, but they didn’t want to tell me for fear of pushing me to one side of the fight or the other. Moving in, I knew I’d continue to be BFFs with Roommate #1, and I thought I got along well with Roommate #3, whereas Roommate #2 was so different from me and more acquaintance than friend. Well, Roommate #3 turned out to be a passive-aggressive liar who put us in an incredibly awkward position with inquiring mutual friends, so that was fun. However, the year-long conflict really helped to bond Roommate #1, #2, and I together. They’re still my best friends to this day. 🙂
OMG what an awesome roommate! That is totally a “best roommate ever” story! That’s so awesome 🙂
Ohhhh that’s such a rough spot to be put in! But that’s what happened with my other roommates too– we had issues with one but I grew closer to the others!
I LOVE hearing about other people’s college stories(though I do wish some of the roommate experiences had been better for you!). The one that really gets me is the story about the dog. I know people who have had that happened to them and I’m just like WHAT?? Who is not considerate enough to ask their roommates if they can bring a living ANIMAL into an apartment?
Even though I’m not in college, I still have roommates, at least through May, because when I signed this lease I did not have a job yet and I needed to make living affordable, and it’s definitely been the strangest roommate experience I’ve had. I’m still in the town I graduated college from, so I answered a listing on a site that host roommate adds for students and post-grads in this town. I have three roommates. They’re all nice enough people, but it does get awkward sometimes with us just having different ideas about living spaces and not knowing how to express them since none of us knew each other before. Out of the four of us, three of us have graduated, and I and roommate #1 work full-time, and roommate #3 works two part-time jobs, so we’re always gone at the same time, and then our other roommate is still in college, which is an interesting dynamic!
One of the best roommate stories I have though is my freshman year roommate. I was the only person from my high school who went to my university, so I did totally random roommate. My school didn’t even have a roommate compatibility form or anything–it really was COMPLETELY random. So my roommate and I exchanged emails over the summer and were nice, but the first few days in the dorm were still awkward, because those rooms are small and we definitely didn’t know each other that well. Well, a few nights after moving in, right before school started, she went to a party that my college had for incoming freshman. It’s a really tame party, because dry campus, etc., and it ended pretty early. The people she went with wanted to go to an after party, but she declined, and they tried to pressure her. When she came back to the dorm we talked about feeling that social pressure already, how we didn’t like it, etc. From there, the conversation sort of wound up on friendships and we had both been hurt by friends recently, so we found we had a lot in common. It was really great to talk to her about something so meaningful, and we definitely weren’t strangers after that. We became really good friends. We’re not *as* close now because she lives in a different state, but we definitely keep in contact and I’m really grateful to have had such a good random roommate.
Oy. That was long. Ah well. Roommate stories are better if they’re long, right?
Oh Stormy, you know I LOVE long comments! <3
That's so nice that you guys really got to connect over that! That's so wonderful to have a good random roommate. It's so awkward to be living with someone you don't even know. I'm so glad you guys got to connect!
I’ve been really excited to read this book after reading another review of it but I’ve discovered it’s not out in Scotland till July!!! What?!! 🙁 I only had roomates for a semester because after that I moved back home and switched universities (long story!) but what was weird was there was one girl who I got on really well with at first and then literally overnight, she got really weird with me and from the next day barely said two words to me the rest of the semester! It still bugs me that I have no idea what happened!
July!?! AHHH!!! It’s worth the wait 🙂
Ohhhh that’s so the worst. I had that happen to me a few times too. One of my close friends in college straight up stopped talking to me and to this day, I still haven’t talked to her again. I tried to communicate with her and she never answered and then one day we just weren’t friends on Facebook anymore. I still don’t even know why she just cut me out of her life instead of just talking to me about whatever the issue was!
That is so weird your friend stopped talking to you as well and to unfriend you on Facebook was just cold! There are some really thoughtless people out there!
Wooo! They are coming to Provo! Nobody EVER comes here. Haha!
Wow. Crazy roomie stories! I did not ever go away to college, and lived at home to save money and because my mom is my best friend. I’ve never had a roommate! Mostly because of horror stories like yours. I hate conflict, and I need my space.
I totally need space too! That was why I got along with my roommates (with exceptions)! We all needed our own personal time. I have a friend who loves to be around people ALL THE TIME and I feel like our friendship would not have survived if we lived together haha!
thanks for commenting! If you go to the event, let me know how it is!!!
Ohh I really wanted to check this one out because college was such a GOOD period of my life. I really enjoyed reading about your college experience! Roommate fights are the worst and I absolutley hate conflicts and typically just.. hide. Or do something passive aggressive. I got super lucky when I got randomly put in the dorms because I was in a cluster (4 rooms that housed 2 with a shared tiny living space) of girls that had roomed together the previous year and they were all awesome and fun and we all got along. So most of us ended up getting an apt together the following year. More rainbows and unicorns! Then, one of them was studying abroad and we had to sublet her room for 2 quarters. In moved nightmare roommate. She kept smoking INSIDE the apt. The whole place would fill up and it was so hard to air out. We asked her to smoke outside. She promised she would. Except she never did. We finally threatened to tell management so she’d stop but the whole situation was NO FUN. So that was probably a “worst” time. But what would college be without a bad roommate experience? haha
OMG Smoking INSIDE the apartment!?!?! That’s awful! We had considered calling management for a few things but figured that would just get ourselves in more trouble haha. Oh my gosh, I can’t even imagine.
Thanks for commenting and sharing your story too!!!