Strangers become friends at college

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Personal Reflection

January 15, 2020 | Focus On Education | Volume 24 Issue 2
Katrina Steckle | Conrad Grebel University College
Katrina Steckle, left, is pictured with her first-year Grebel roommate, Madeleine Graham. (Photo courtesy of Katrina Steckle)

My older sister met her best friend at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ont., in 2013. They were paired together as roommates for their first year, and lived together in their second and fourth years as well. I remember my sister coming home from school on the weekends and telling amazing stories about the fun she and her roommate were having at Grebel. These stories made Grebel seem like it might be a good place for me.

Flash forward to Sept. 5, 2016, as I arrived at Grebel for my move-in day. The parking lot was full of anxious and excited incoming students, and I knew that one of them would be my roommate for the next eight months. Although I was nervous about the idea of sharing a room, my sister’s stories reassured me that having a roommate could be great. 

Those reassurances turned out to be true. While my first-year roommate didn’t end up being my best friend, we lived together peacefully. I knew that I could always chat with her about classes and assignments, head down to the cafeteria for dinner with her, and attend every exciting Grebel event with her. It was comforting to know that, after a late night of studying, I could return to a warm, friendly residence room. 

Grebel’s thoughtful roommate pairing process also resulted in a rewarding experience for Hannah Bernstein, a second-year student in nanotechnology engineering. “I was nervous about if we would get along, if she would be too loud or too quiet, and more, but it ended up being an incredible experience,” she says.

“Having a roommate can require compromise with sleep schedules, having guests over, and how much cleaning is done in the room. You learn to be accommodating,” says Max Chute, former don and fourth-year chemical engineering student. “Being a roommate teaches you to be more attentive to the feelings of others around you and gives you opportunities to practise conflict resolution skills.”

When I look back on my own experience, I’m so glad that I had a roommate during my time in the Grebel residence. I’m the kind of person who loves having my own space, but my roommate kept me from isolating myself when I first started university, and I have fond memories of study breaks and late night chats that were filled with laughter. 

Katrina Steckle is a Conrad Grebel University College student studying psychology and English.

Read more Focus on Education stories:
Learning to live with technology
RJC: Becoming a missional school
Their stories showed me how to be brave
'Nobody is perfect and that's okay'
Rockway to feature 'Voices Together' committee member at special event

Katrina Steckle, left, is pictured with her first-year Grebel roommate, Madeleine Graham. (Photo courtesy of Katrina Steckle)

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