I will never forget my freshman year at the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa. It was a year of new friends, a long distance relationship, and adventure in a new city. But perhaps the year’s most memorable aspect was my living situation: seven roommates in a four bedroom, one bathroom dormitory.
First-Year Student Dormitory Requirement
USF has a first-year student residency requirement on campus, the only loophole being if you live in the surrounding counties (Hillsborough, Pinellas, etc.). Coming from a small, suburban town in South Florida called Davie, I couldn’t get out of living in the dreaded freshman dorms. Yes, I said dreaded. Though in my housing application I had marked my preference for the beautiful, high-tech, state-of-the-art dorms on the north side of campus, I was put in the oldest dormitory, dating back to the school’s beginnings in the 1960’s. The rusty, brownish-gray building resembled a prison especially with its long, thin windows. I lived on the third floor, so you can imagine what a hassle moving in was. My poor uncle had to carry my 40-pound mini fridge up three flights of stairs and help move several other heavy boxes and personal items which I anticipated would fit in my room. On the few USF tours, I had had, and during my orientation, the guides had (of course) shown us the highest quality dorms on campus. Aside from the single bedrooms we were shown, the double bedrooms (two students to a room) had more than enough space for two closets, two beds, two dressers, and two desks.
Every girl’s fantasy dorm set-up!
A Different Set-Up
My living arrangement was let’s just say, different. My uncle and I, upon first entering the room, discovered a very small bedroom with two beds about two feet or less apart. The room was too small for any desk, so space was provided in a cramped area just outside our bedroom. We used this for my microwave and as a pantry area for our food. Between my roommate and me, there wasn’t a lot of space for either of us to study. The “dressers” were a part of our closet…except the closet wasn’t a closet, but more of an open space in the back of our room, made of aged wood with a metal bar to hang clothes. The bedroom to our right was the same set-up: two girls in one bedroom with a desk area outside. To the right of their room was a narrow door that led to the bathroom area, which was community style: one shower, two sinks with two mirrors, and two toilet stalls. Another door, right of the stalls, led to two bedrooms the same style as ours–two girls living in each–totaling eight people in a space smaller than an average two-bedroom apartment. Yet another downside was the fact that the A/C unit was controlled solely by the far right bedroom (the one farthest from my roommate and mine). This meant that if those two girls kept their room locked day or night, we had no way to control our room’s temperature.
A Bright Side
The only aspect of this arrangement which made my freshman year worth it were my wonderful roommates. We were forced to get comfortable with each other quickly because we couldn’t actually sit in our rooms without overhearing each others’ conversations, as our walls were so thin! The experience humbled me, and I hope other Millennials can experience something similar at some point in the near future. Having roommates (in my case, seven) taught me a lot about people and made my college experience unique, to say the least. Sharing a small living area allows the most diverse groups of people to coexist. My roommates and I were sort of shocked to have been placed together, considering the vast differences in our personalities and interests. We all had very different backgrounds, but because we were all freshmen learning the ropes, we stuck together like glue. From late night trips to 24-hour grocery stores to every meal together in the dining hall, we never had to feel alone. Living with those girls truly opened my mind. Outside of college, we were a group that would likely never have formed such close friendships. Though we all resented our living situation, we at least had each other. I hope that all Generation Y women should have an experience like mine, no matter the challenges that come with it. We often forget to step outside of our comfort zone and make friends with different kinds of people, but sometimes it is with these different kinds of people that we share the best and most important experiences.