I was absolutely dead set against it. After eight years of basketball, tennis and soccer, I decided that college was not going to be just another year of athletics for me. This was going to be a year of "fun" weekends, academic-filled weeks and Gossip Girl Mondays. However, my floor had different plans for me.
I was waiting to meet my new roommates on the first day, sitting on the couch and snacking on potato chips, when all of a sudden a sweaty girl barged through the wooden door...Hello Kate Winingham. The girl was decked out with outerwear, complete with a headband, and had just returned from her biking pre-orientation trip. Great news for me and the food baby I was sporting.
The next roommate to introduce herself, Hallie Carol, announced that she was planning on getting involved with the crew team and the 6:00 a.m. practices that go with it. For me, that sounds about as appealing as being forced to watch Megan Fox try to act. It seemed that Bowdoin athletes were surrounding me: my floor consists of hockey players, football players, swimmers, soccer players and dancers. Athletic shorts, water bottles and sports bags have invaded my peripheral vision at every corner. In this type of environment, if you're like me, it is hard not to adapt and find yourself carrying a Gatorade bottle to the nearest hydration station while preparing for rugby practice.
It should come as no surprise that close interactions between friends and roommates lead to behavioral influences. The fact that Bowdoin is so small (first years are particularly cramped this year with the new increase in triples and quints) results in changes to our individual character.
For example, it has been proven that women with dieting, overweight roommates are less likely to be affected by the infamous "freshman 15" due to observing how their roommates behave and the activities that they engage in. A roommate that is on a diet because she is overweight affects what the people around her eat, just as one roommate's routine of going to the gym can change how others behave. When people interested in personal fitness and outdoor activities are constantly surrounding you, a person's priorities inevitably transform.
Say that you are the only one on your floor while everyone else is outside playing sports or on a trip with the Outing Club. The boredom that begins to fester within you needs an outlet. This need for an outlet seeks commonality with the activities of those around you. You may find yourself joining a friend and going to hip hop classes, even though the only dancing you have ever done was in front of your bathroom mirror. Or maybe you are out buying brand new cleats for a sport that you have never played before. It may be hard to admit it, but it is time we all accepted the fact that we aren't as independent as we think. Like it or not, roommates play an important role in our lives at the moment, not only through the behaviors that are traded among us, but also via material possessions and ideas.
People that never used to shop online will suddenly find themselves surfing the Internet for new clothes, while others who never watched television will pick up on the new shows playing in their rooms. Never been a snacker? Well you just might find yourself making midnight trips to Super Snack to chow down some nachos and grilled cheese.
It's time to realize that viruses are not the only things that are contagious this year, since students continue to adopt the behaviors, ideas, and traits of those around them.
As first years continue on throughout their four years of college, the choice to associate with certain people will truly impact their lives. Individuality, it would seem, is not only the direct result of the influences from our teachers and coaches, but more importantly the product of the friends we have living right next to us.
Anita Shah is a member of the Class of 2014.