By Eliana Lindenberg
It’s a right of passage for Stern College students to live in one of Brookdale Hall’s four-person dorm rooms.
Brookdale Residence Hall is arguably the essence of Stern College life–an entire building filled with smart and strong women living all together as they begin, continue, or end their academic careers at Stern College for Women. The perks of living in Brookdale are, quite frankly, fantastic. The location is top-notch; there are kosher food options galore surrounding Brookdale, and it’s incredibly close to both Beren Campus academic buildings. It is near trains, interesting nightlife, and is in the literal heart of Manhattan. The Inter-Campus Shuttle, popularly known as the “Shidduch Shuttle,” picks up and drops off students from right outside the front door, resulting in a near constantly full front lounge. Old friends, new friends, and class friends all can constantly be found downstairs socializing and spreading encouragement, advice, and more with each other.
Unfortunately, not every aspect of Brookdale is as wonderful as the picture I’ve painted. The reality is this; you will be living in a small room with 3-4 other girls. Even if you are the most down-to-earth person, you will feel pressure and stress from living with so many other people in a small space. This is normal, it happens. I consider myself to be a generally easy-going person, and yet I’ve still struggled living like this for the past two semesters.
Let me preface my personal experience with Brookdale by saying this: I could not have gotten luckier with getting the roommates that I did. The three girls that I have been living with for the first two semesters of my college experience are the best friends I never thought I would have. I do however recognize that while I won the lottery, other girls who live in Brookdale have had more difficult experiences than I have.
I found that living with three other girls restricts your ability to sit and think in solitude while in your room. This is also an issue that stems from living in New York City, as it is “the city that never sleeps.” You can walk outside at any time of night and encounter people from all different walks of life–trust me, I’ve done this multiple times. I almost never find fifteen minutes alone in my shared room to sit on my bed and cry or do literally anything by myself. I enjoy playing guitar to myself, but that just doesn’t happen in Brookdale.
When you live with three other girls, private moments are few and precious.
Not only is a lack of privacy sharply felt, but your dorm room is a shared space. That means being respectful of each others’ schedules as well as personal items. Perhaps you tend to write all of your papers late at night right before they are due, but two of your roommates go to sleep early; you probably won’t be able to write at your desk. You live with other people who need to be able to function too. Personally, I have never had an issue with my roommates concerning my personal items, but I have read and heard about far too many horror stories involving students violating their roommates’ personal belongings. Anything from stealing food to straight up destroying property or worse has happened to others. This is a very real thing that happens, and that too is difficult to deal with.
All of these things coupled with the possibility that you and your roommates will just not get along can make living in a four-person room a difficult experience for all involved.
But it can also be the very best thing that ever happens to you.
When I started to think about roommates for this year, I immediately discarded the notion that I could be friends with my roommates. Afterall, I had seen enough Buzzfeed articles to convince me to proceed my search with caution. Due to a six-hour flight delay coming back to States for Pesach last year, I ended up meeting the twin of my future roommate and best friend. He gave his sister my information, the two of us spoke, and we decided to try out being roommates. She shortly thereafter found two other girls that we felt would be relaxed and pleasant enough to live with. I look back now and think to myself, “little did I know.” We were finally all together for the first time the night before classes started, and I have to honestly say that it was tense.
Within the first few months, however, the four of us were inseparable. The entire world could be ready to tear one of us down, but we wouldn’t have cared. These three girls who I’ve been living with know even before I do when I’m not okay, and they certainly don’t leave me alone when I hide under the blanket to cry. These girls bring comfort food, advice, warmth, and an overwhelming amount of affection and love that everyone deserves to have.
So, while I did not get privacy this year in Brookdale Residence Hall, I got something much better instead–three of the best friends I will ever have.