Everyone has that one, crazy roommate story — it’s a classic icebreaker for parties, especially living in New York City, where you have probably had more than just one strange housing situation. Even pop culture — shows like “New Girl” and “Friends” — focus on the question: can these two or more completely different people coexist in a tiny room and somehow make the best of it?
CAS alumna Stephanie Wu draws inspiration from the coexistence concept — she sought out the most memorable roommate stories she could find, collecting them from over 60 people and then splitting the tales into age-group categories for her new book, “The Roommates,” published Aug. 5.
The stories are all anonymous, ranging in age and location from where each took place.
“I knew I would get some crazy stories, but I just didn’t know the extent of the crazy which I would get,” Wu said. “The very first interview I did, this girl told me about her freshman year roommate who told her that she was keeping a dead hamster in their mini fridge. She said, ‘I’m keeping a dead hamster in there, and I want to do taxidermy on it and then attach it to a hot air balloon.’”
Although many of the anecdotes in “The Roommates” are outlandish incidents and unbelievable situations, some are also about roommates who become best friends, as Wu herself did with her freshman year roommate at NYU in University Residence Hall.
None of Wu’s personal roommate stories are included in her book, but she dedicated the entire collection to that first college roommate.
“Especially that freshman year, I found community at NYU through the dorms,” Wu said. “If I wasn’t hanging out with my roommates in my room, I was down the hall in a friend’s room napping on their bed or studying in their living room. [Your floormates] are so important. That’s a group of ready-made friends down the hall to hang out with.”
Wu hopes that readers will not only be entertained by the book, but also take away an understanding of the level of cooperation required when forced to live with someone.
“Be open about how you’re going to live,” Wu said. “Habits change in college … understand your roommate will change too … Just be honest with one another. Don’t let passive-aggressiveness start.”
Regardless of some of the slightly horrific scenarios in her book, Wu advocates for students to dorm with someone new to them, especially their freshman year.
“I think it’s important to meet someone from a totally different background,” she said. “It’s a chance to see how people live, to understand them better.”
Hannah Treasure is features editor. Email her at [email protected]