Roomie relations: perfect strangers

Move-in time is 1 p.m. It’s the first day of college. You’re worried about everything: whether you brought the right fridge, the right kind of shower shoes and enough winter clothes. You’re already planning your

Move-in time is 1 p.m. It’s the first day of college. You’re worried about everything: whether you brought the right fridge, the right kind of shower shoes and enough winter clothes. You’re already planning your first trip home.

At the same time, you hope you’ll like it here enough to cancel that trip. You’re ready to drop that tri-weekly 8:40 a.m.
class so you can go out on Thursday nights, but you’re praying you’ll find friends who won’t want to party every weeknight.

But most importantly, you’re worrying about something bigger, something that may even affect you more than that early economics class. You’re worried about your roommate. In that case, chill. So are 4,300 others.

Throughout the 2007-2008 school year, The Temple News will observe two sets of freshmen roommates who, not even a month ago, met for the first time but now share a bedroom, bathroom and countless other things. We’ll see if the housing application match-ups were effective or if opposites really attract.

Josephine Bergman & Grace Wu: “It was kind of scary to leave,” undeclared freshman Josephine Bergman said. “I mean, it’s safe at home and I know the people, but I definitely don’t regret coming here.”

When Bergman refers to home, she isn’t talking about elsewhere in Pennsylvania, like 71 percent of other students.

She’s talking about her home in Landskrona, Sweden, which she left along with her family and friends en route to Philadelphia for the first time three weeks ago. Bergman said she’s thrilled to finally be in the United States.

Bergman decided to enroll at Temple after receiving a full tennis scholarship.

“I’ve been playing since I was nine, and coming here has always been one of my dreams,” she said. Bergman’s roommate, freshman environmental engineering major Grace Wu, doesn’t hail from the East Coast either. Unlike Bergman, Wu isn’t an international student, but she’s certainly new to this side of the nation. Wu moved to Philadelphia from Portland, Ore.

“Pretty much everybody that I’ve met is from either New York or Pennsylvania, but I came here because I like not knowing everybody,” Wu said. “I introduce myself to random people every day.”Bergman and Wu found that once they arrived here they had more in common than they previously expected.

“I’m on the women’s fencing team and since we’re both athletes, we know when we have to study. [When] we’re tired together . . . we tell ourselves, ‘Oh, you can’t do that,’ when it comes to going out sometimes,” Wu said.Both their athleticism and unfamiliarity with the East Coast brought the girls closer as they were getting settled into their new residence, encouraging them to get on the right track during their first few days at Temple. But as they made time for work, they didn’t forget about having fun.

“Since we’re both not from here, we spend time together exploring the area,” Bergman said. “I think that if Grace had more friends here, then she would spend more time with them and we wouldn’t be as close.”

Bergman experienced a bit of culture shock when she first arrived and is still adjusting to the differences.

“People are a lot more open here,” Bergman said. “In Sweden, we aren’t that close with one another. You don’t walk into a room and say ‘hi’ to someone you don’t even know like people do here.”

Luckily, she has Wu to help her when it’s tough to adapt. “She helps me with the pronunciation of some words,” Bergman said. But sometimes it’s the simple things that are most appreciated. “She has also showed me some new foods, like Ritz crackers,” Bergman said. Wu said she benefitted from her uncommon living situation.

“Little by little, I’m learning Swedish,” Wu said. Both girls feel that their similarities will continue to make them closer while their cultural differences will open one another’s minds. “It’s just been really fun,” Bergman said. “We’re outgoing together. It feels like we’ll be good friends for a while.”

Ellis Beamon & Oraine Campbell: Oraine Campbell spent his summer in Maplewood, N.J., playing basketball and mentally preparing for his first year of college. The undeclared freshman didn’t stress much about this year’s living
situation because he was under the impression that his roommate would be his best friend from high school.

However, when he got to school on Aug. 25, he was surprised to find that this was not the case. Due to a complication in the application process, Ellis Beamon, an undeclared major and stranger to Campbell, became his roommate.

Because they didn’t communicate over the summer, both men started out from scratch in Johnson Hall. Since Beamon kept his expectations low, adjusting to living with a complete stranger was easy.

“I was just looking for the basics,” Beamon said. “Like, as long as we’re able to get along well and no smoking.”

Beamon soon found that he shared many personality traits with Campbell. While Campbell plans on trying out for Temple’s basketball team, Beamon hopes to play for the football team next year. “I know that I have his support behind me and he hopes that I make it, and that’s important to me,” Beamon said.

But being the exact same person isn’t crucial to a successful friendship, Campbell said.

“For a roommate, it’s just important that you have at least one thing in common,” he said. “You can notice peoples’ differences and still find the good in them.” Although they do hang out together, both still have their own group of friends that they go out with occasionally. The guys already know to keep each other in check so they don’t get too caught up in their social lives.

“Just earlier this week, there was this party going on and I was like, ‘Nah, I got school work, dude. You should go do yours too,'” Beamon said. It didn’t take Campbell long at all to adjust to his new living arrangements, even though they didn’t turn out the way he expected. In fact, he feels that what happened was even better.

“I didn’t realize that [rooming with a stranger] was an advantage at the time,” he said. “If I had realized that it was an advantage, I probably would have never chosen my roommate in the beginning.”With their mutual love for sports and dedication to school, Campbell and Beamon seem like they’ll make it through the year pretty easily. And on move-in day, Campbell discovered his best friend lived in a room right across the hall.

As for Beamon, he’s just happy it was such a good match.

“I don’t know how they did it . . . but when I thought I was going to get a roommate that was totally the opposite of me, he was similar,” Beamon said. “It’s kind of like I knew him before we got here.”

Carlene Majorino can be reached at

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