Friday, November 13, 2009

Living in the dorms & Roommates

Even before college, there were many times I lived with others. Every summer I lived in a bunk at camp with around 15 other girls. I went to sleepovers, traveled and stayed with my friends and their families on vacation, and had many other experiences of sharing living space with others. These experiences are what helped prepare me for when I went off to college.

Although I can say that I certainly had some roommates I enjoyed living with more than others, I can honestly say that every roommate I had was nice about my allergies. I didn't have any real problems with anyone being disrespectful about them. I actually didn't really even worry about roomates when I was in college. Some years I had great ones who turned into best friends, while my freshman year and a few other times, I had roommates I got along with okay, but would not have ever chosen them to live with.

I have heard from some parents who are wondering how it worked to live in the dorms in college with allergies. My freshman year of college I told my roommate about my allergies and what she would need to do. I told her she could eat foods that I was allergic to, but she needed to keep them on her side of the room and make sure to wash her hands. We both had our own mini fridges and microwaves. She was very responsible about it, and so were the other people on my floor.

Before I moved in my freshman year, I spoke to the woman who was in charge of the dining halls. She told me what was safe to eat and what I should avoid. The dining hall was right downstairs in my building, so it was easy enough, and they all knew who I was. Breakfast was always the easiest meal. Every other meal I could certainly find food, but it got pretty redundant after a while.

My sophomore year I transferred to a big state school. I had to go through the process again of sitting down with the head of the dining services staff and asking what foods would be okay, and what I should avoid. Since I was on such a large campus, I never really knew the dining staff, so I rarely asked questions. I often ate the same foods. It worked out well though. I had no problems with my allergies.

The first time that I moved off campus, was when I studied abroad the fall of my senior year in Australia. I lived with four other girls in a small two bedroom apartment with a "study" (a.k.a. enclosed porch with big Venetian blinds). I lived out on the porch. I loved it because I had my own space.

The trickiest part of living with four other girls, was trying to share a very small kitchen! We each shared a shelf in the fridge and a shelf in the cabinets. They were all very aware of my allergies, and did a good job of making me feel safe in our apartment. I bought a set of my own dishes and had my own sponge. We had a dishwasher, which helped a lot! It was difficult finding food to eat in Australia, but living in an apartment with roommates was not!

When I came home from Australia, I needed somewhere off campus to live. I found an apartment with one girl and one guy who wad also coming back from being abroad. It worked out perfectly! The three of us couldn't have gotten along any better! We had such a great time together, and they were both awesome with my allergies! Yet again, no problems!

Since college I have had a year of living in my own studio apartment (by far the easiest living situation as afar as allergies go), as well as living at my parents, traveling, and staying with friends. When I lived in the studio, I didn't have to worry about having foods in my apartment that I couldn't eat. It was amazing, and the first time in my entire life where I could feel completely comfortable with my allergies, because it was my own space!

Now in Italy, I am lucky again to be living with another teacher who is fabulous with my allergies! Abby is by far, the best roommate I have had (especially as far as allergies go)! She is extremely understanding and careful! I never have to really worry about anything, which is so nice! When we first moved in and went grocery shopping she was really patient and helpful while I scoured shelves searching for allergen free foods! She is also wonderful about washing her hands if she eats anything I am allergic to, and is both responsive and responsible about my allergies. Living with her has definitely made the transition abroad with allergies much easier!

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