Editor’s note: Jill Collins is a former executive features editor for The Tufts Daily. Collins was not involved in the writing or editing of this article.
Every Tufts student knows this feeling: Who will my first-year roommate be? How should I fill out this housing form? We constantly refresh our new tufts.edu email, finally get a name and immediately look up the person online. Will we be friends? Will we get along? Will we even speak?
Tufts’ random housing selection provides a multitude of opportunities for incoming first-years. It is a chance to meet someone you perhaps would not otherwise have met, gain different perspectives and learn how to live with someone new. For some, it is the beginning of lifelong friendships. For a select few, the random assignments led to roommate pairings that would last all four years.
Seniors Sonia Mody and Amanda Aprati are among those who have lived together since they were first-year undergraduates. Randomly assigned to live together in Hill Hall, they have lived together ever since.
Aprati described the pair’s first interaction online after they got matched.
“[I] randomly got the email, was so nervous to open it, saw her name and immediately searched her name on Instagram, and we followed each other,” Aprati said. “And then I was really excited because I thought that she was so fun and sweet.”
Aprati then messaged Mody on Instagram and wrote, “Hey, looks like we’re roommates. LOL.”
This marked the start of an online connection, so by the time they moved into Hill Hall, Aprati and Mody felt like they already knew each other.
“We were texting a lot during the summer,” Mody said. “Even the first day we moved into the room and hung out for the first time, it was never awkward.”
After moving in, Aprati and Mody constantly hung out together. They ate every meal together and met their closest friends through the other. While they would have their own separate days, they would always come back to Hill Hall to talk and spend time together.
Mody shared one of her favorite memories from living with Aprati during their freshman year.
“We were up really late at 1 a.m. … and it was just me and Amanda in her bed just talking, and we’re laughing, having such a good time, literally giggling,” Mody said. “Our RA was like, ‘Can you guys keep it down? People are trying to sleep.’”
Aprati added, “You would have literally thought we were having a party, [but] we were just dying laughing for so long that everyone could hear it in the hall.”
The two became fast friends, and they credited part of their success to also being able to coexist in their living space very well.
“We got so lucky that it wasn’t just that we are best friends, but also that we’ve lived very well and easily together and never had issues.” Aprati said.
Sophomore year, Aprati and Mody lived in a double together in a suite in Latin Way with some of their other friends.
“There were two doubles and everyone wanted the doubles … to get that college experience of living with a best friend,” Aprati said. “[Our other friends] would fight it out over who’s getting the last double, and it was literally never a consideration that Sonia and I would get singles because it was just a package deal that we were living together.”
For their junior and senior years, Aprati and Mody lived in an off-campus apartment together. Their rooms were just a few inches away from each other, so they truly never lived too far apart for the duration of their Tufts experience.
Aprati reflected on the pair’s friendship after living together for four years.
“Everyone says the best friends are ones you can literally do nothing with and just feel comfortable and happy in their presence,” she said. “And I feel like that’s huge for someone that you’ve lived with for that long.”
Seniors Bo Johnson and Will Hotch have also lived together the entire time they’ve been at Tufts.
Hotch described the pair’s first interaction online where he accidentally “ghosted” Johnson.
“I was in the mindset of … there’s too many people to follow [on Instagram] from Tufts. So I was like, [I’ll] follow people back when I meet them. So Bo followed me and I was like, ‘Oh, cool guy from Tufts. If I meet him, I’ll follow him back,’” Hotch said. “But because of that, I never saw any [of his] messages.”
A few days later, Hotch finally received the email and finally realized that he had an unread message from his future roommate.
“I was like, ‘Oh my God, no, I ghosted the person that’s supposed to be my roommate.’ So it was an uphill battle at first to regain my reputation,” Hotch said.
While they became good friends living in Hill Hall together freshman year, Hotch and Johnson grew even closer through living together in a small COVID-19 residential cohort in Lewis Hall their sophomore year. In part, because the circumstances required that they spent almost all of their time together.
“I think that we got lucky,” Johnson said. “The whole cohort system sophomore year ended up helping because we had to spend a lot of time together. So, we had other friends before but I think that’s [how] we became better friends.”
The two ended up living in a room together when they moved off campus their junior year. Because they found a room that was big enough for two people, they reasoned that it was a smart decision because they could both pay less in rent.
“I thought that was a more common thing,” Hotch said. “But we were the only ones that I was aware of that did that.”
Some of their favorite memories together are renting a Zipcar to take an hour-long road trip to get vaccinated and stopping at the beach along the way, and meeting up five times when they were both studying abroad.
Both Johnson and Hotch agreed that Tufts’ random first-year roommate assignment is a beneficial exercise in personal growth, regardless of how it turns out.
“There’s a whole paradox of choice, … where the more options you have, you think that whatever you [pick] will be so perfect,” Hotch said. “So I like that part of the random roommate, … just make the best of it. … It will unfold however it unfolds, I think that that’s a good experience for a college freshman to have honestly.”
Lastly, seniors Autumn Stelzer and Jill Collins were matched to live in Houston Hall their freshman year and went on to live together for the next three.
“You’re waiting all summer [thinking], who’s my random roommate gonna be?” Stelzer said. “So, you get a name and you’re like, ‘Okay, let me Google them.’ And so I found Jill’s Facebook and I sent a picture to my grandma. She was like, ‘Two gorgeous roommates!’”
The two connected online and texted over the summer. They quickly started hanging out when they got to Tufts, and Stelzer shared a story of the two bonding on their first night out in college together.
“We walked back in the rain. We’re soaking, we’re alone on the first night in O-Week in our dorm room. And we took a selfie or something in the mirror and then we just … hung out the whole night. … It was just really fun,” Stelzer said. “And then we just bonded that night after we were soaked in rain at Lax House and it was just a really fun, cute night. … That was actually the last time we ever went to Lax House.”
The two then moved into a suite together in Latin Way for their sophomore year. They shared special experiences, such as a tumultuous road trip from Chicago back to Tufts, and having one of their best Thanksgiving dinners together in their Latin Way suite. Despite the joyful memories, living with a close friend requires careful maintenance of the relationship.
“I think that you build deep connection … by going through hardships and repairing that,” Stelzer said. “Because we prioritize our friendship, we were forced to deal with things when things weren’t working out. Like if we were disagreeing on something, … we had to talk about it for the sake of the friendship. … You couldn’t ignore each other — you were living together.”
After graduation, Stelzer and Collins will be adding a fifth year to their roommate tenure, as they plan to move to an apartment in Brooklyn together next year. Their random roommate assignment will soon outlive their time as Tufts undergraduates as they venture out of the Medford/Somerville campus together.
“Now that we’re kind of reflecting on this, I feel like me and Jill are two very open-minded people,” Stelzer said. “I think we could be friends with whoever we got put with and, luckily, I happen to be paired with somebody who’s awesome.”