How a dorm kitchen brought me closer to my roommates

Under the Arch

How a dorm kitchen brought me closer to my roommates


 I share a kitchen with seven other girls. Instead of it creating a divide between us, the food brought us together.


Emily Genova, Deputy Managing Editor | March 31, 2024

Four girls occupy a dorm room kitchen with a coffee machine on the left, a dish rack next to it, a sink in the middle and an oven with food inside it on the right.

The majority of the time, my kitchen looks like a tornado just passed through, and then the eight of us who share the space lit everything on fire. I live in Greenwich Hall with seven other girls, our kitchen crammed into a small stovetop, oven and sink. Our countertops are practically non-existent, the small square of space acting as a drying rack. Our cupboards are filled to the brim with food, freezers and fridges are packed with items, and trash bins are in a never-ending cycle of overflowingness.


Cooking is a game. A balancing act of who is in the kitchen, when will the stovetop be free and is someone doing the dishes, or can I fill up my water bottle? Dinnertime looks like bumping elbows and excuse-mes, cooking timers and lots and lots of boiling water. Ramen, pasta, the easy stuff. In the rare moments when the oven turns on, the dorm fills with the smell of whatever is cooking.


Cleaning up is pictured with plates in the sink and our square-space of a drying rack piled with dishes. Finding that spare spatula or spoon is practically a game of Jenga.


Our dining table is a small, three-foot round table. A toaster lives on the chair, the only place close enough to an outlet. It’s where our communal mail sits when someone grabs it from the mailbox. There have been out-of-season Halloween candy, loose plastic utensils, notebooks and computers — it’s the center of the space and a piece of each of our lives.


Beyond the business of so many people in such a small space, the kitchen is our common area. It’s where we make meals, finish homework and talk about our days. The dorm consists of many random roommates, most of us strangers to each other when we moved in last fall. I got to know my suitemates more through our interactions here.


Someone walking through the door and asking what I’m cooking, someone complimenting the smell of garlic that has invaded our rooms, someone saying “oh my god that looks so good” over an egg on toast. Within our crowded schedules, we do not have time to sit and talk to the people we share a space with. Instead, the small talk of food is how we learn about each other.


When someone turns on the oven to bake, the blueberry muffins sit on the table with a note: Enjoy. A knock on my door has turned into an offering of a slice of banana bread, and I have shared a chocolate chip cookie or two with whoever happens to be sitting on the couch. ​​The cookies may have been frozen Toll House and that banana bread from scratch, but each moment of sharing is an act of love.


It’s splitting a carton of eggs when you’re too lazy to go to the grocery store, and no one bringing up the fact that we live right next to one. It’s laughing over my frozen Eggos when someone has just perfected the homemade dorm waffle. It’s taking advantage of the short amount of free kitchen time and making two grilled cheeses to share with your roommate. We’ll sit at that small table and talk about our day. Food is our outlet to bond.


Dorm life is hard, and in New York City, it’s as crowded as can be. Sharing a small space with seven girls has taught me that not everyone will do their dishes, but it also has given me so much more. I’ve learned about different cuisines, cooking habits and got to know the people I live with amid our busy lives. The kitchen could have been our downfall, but instead was the heart of our home.


Contact Emily Genova at [email protected]