Getting room assignments is kind of like spinning the Wheel of Fortune. Your eyes move around the list, searching for your fate.
Round one, I get my room number, go to the floor and scan: a double room or a single room? I see double, double, double, single, double, double. Round two, I make sure to search for my name. By round three, the wheel slows down, almost stopping. Single, double, double… and it lands on single.
No roommate for me.
This is hard to process. I am in the dorm with no acquaintances. I want a roommate because I wouldn’t have to impose myself on someone. The list would impose us on each other. Close quarters would make my roommate and I fast friends. We’d make new friends together.
I descend the flight of stairs, hesitating every few moments, and finally reach the community associates to ask them if I can have a roommate. They say they’ll consider but later say it just isn’t possible.
I spread out on my bed, shy to face the growing group of new arrivals. Soon, though, I jump up. This is my only option. I grab my key, leave my room and search for the other cherubs. When I find them, they welcome me with energy, and I feel at ease in the circle of about 20 cherubs.
I make friends, and I continue to throughout the day. I see people in the lounge, on the way to dinner, in a spontaneous ice-breaker session and relaxing on our floor. They are easy to talk to. At first, we bond over journalism, and then over current events, pop culture and our own cultures.
Never have I felt so at home with a large group of people. And I still do at the end of the program. My closest friends feel as close as roommates, and I still feel welcome wherever I go to socialize or do my work.
My single room came with countless benefits. It gave me a place to be alone and to recharge. Or I could jump off my bed like I did on that first day, ready to talk to my fellow cherubs. It taught me to be outgoing. It also allowed me to conduct the interviews I needed to, be as messy as I wanted and watch other people covet my single room. The most important benefit, though, is that I learned on my own how friendly cherubs are.