By Gabriela Morgan Longo (CAS’22)
College has taught me that friendships bloom in unexpected circumstances and despite our most embarrassing shortcomings or insecurities.
For example, my now close and supportive relationship with my freshman year roommates defies the reservations I had about living with “strangers” and the clumsiness with which our interactions started. Even if the general adage is that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression, my personal experience is solid evidence that you can overcome many initial social blunders with hundreds of subsequent interactions that better reveal your true nature and lead to genuine bonds of friendship.
As soon as I accepted my admission to BU, I became rattled by nerves. I had chosen a school far from home, where I would be forced to meet and live with new people. I’d have to share a room with strangers! This initial apprehension did not allow me to do any Facebook introductions or anything like that before I came to the deadline on filling out my dorm room application. Therefore, I was filling the form in the dark and putting my name in the random draw.
When I got 4 names back my restlessness increased. I was assigned to a suite where I would have to share my room with not one, but TWO strangers! I received 4 names and a room number, but other than that I had no idea how to reach out to them. I checked my email all the time and searched every social media platform I knew but couldn’t find any matches for the names I was given. Finally, sometime in July, I got an email from BU Housing in my personal account inbox telling me I could find information about my housing assignment in my school associated email account. My school associated email!?! I did not know I had one of those! Low and behold, as soon as I signed in to the me @bu.edu account tons of emails answering every question I had about college sat waiting for me, including, of course, an email from my suitemate Jillian with a phone number and an invitation to join a suitemates groupchat. My first message to that groupchat was something along the lines of “Hi guys! Sorry I missed all the introductions but I don’t know anything about college :/”. So that was my first impression!
Bumbling and nervous and probably a little goofy… I worried about this first impression for days. The first impression I made on my roommates was a text message I sent in a suite groupchat which I joined weeks after my other four suitemates had been using it to share their hopes and expectations for a wonderful new year. So, I started our relationship by having to explain to my “future best friends” (hopefully) that I had not been ignoring them during those weeks but that I simply had been clueless about the separate email for all things BU and had, therefore, been completely unaware of ALL the updates and information related to college and dorm and roommate assignments for over a month. For days after sending that text I worried that my suitemates would perceive this opening faux pas as evidence of the fact that I was too goofy to befriend. Somehow, however, the incident that I worried had painted me as clueless and bumbling had been perceived by my kind suitemates as sincere, nice, and maybe the sweet expressions of shyness.
Luckily, that dopey first impression ended up being less impactful than the subsequent hundreds of interactions we shared after move-in. The first night we all slept in the room, my roommate Mira and I went out for a walk, shared our concerns and expectations for our college years and ended up clicking immediately; talking and sharing our thoughts as if we had been friends for years. When I was late to class on my first day, my roommates Mira and Caro helped me collect myself as I rushed to get across campus and earned my devotion due to the tender kindness with which they tolerated my flustered nervousness. As the days and weeks went by, we shared our apprehensions by bringing each other sweets when we got back from class and we walked together into our neighbors’ rooms to introduce ourselves and develop new bonds and friendships. Day by day, one small kindness after another made us an inseparable unit and created shared memories and joys that bonded us together. The transition from strangers to friends was so seamless that I can’t remember or pinpoint when or how it happened. I am certain today, however, that these unexpected interactions with the “strangers” assigned by BU Housing to live with me have made college not only bearable, but fun.
Photo credit: Gabi Morgan Longo