A bad roommate tests one’s toleranceBefore I went to the States as an exchange student for a year, I was quite confident in my ability to adapt to a new environment.
Since I arrived at school a week ahead of the semester, I was the first to settle into my dorm room, though I didn’t meet my roommate until the day before classes started.
When I arrived at our room just after the rafting orientation trip to West Virginia, she had already moved in with her stuff, which was scattered all over.
I was glad to see her and to meet her boyfriend, who was with her, but felt rather put-off to be stuck in her things, which could have filled the room.
My roommate was kind to me at first. She was a typical American girl in terms of liking McDonald’s, the sitcom “Friends,” and the popular clothing brand American Eagle.
One thing I could not understand, however, was her love life, even as I tried to see her as a “liberal” American.
Actually, three of us, including her boyfriend, slept together in the room every other day. I had heard about this situation before I went to the States, but actually enduring it in a foreign country was completely different.
One day, after being woken by the noise, I decided I could not bear it any more and asked her not to bring her boyfriend to our room during the night.
Surprisingly, the roommate that got kicked out turned out to be me. I was upset when I knew that she wanted to kick me out and more so by her lousy excuse. She told me that I was a very good roommate to live with, but that she had become “ill” from the “smell” that she said came from me and my Korean friends. I was shocked to hear it, knowing it was a lie.
Eventually, we both moved out of the room, but I was already very hurt by her rude attitude. For me, the experience made me see a dark side to real American people, and I reflected back on myself and how to treat foreigners in Korea.
Perhaps I was mistaken, but I thought if I had been American just like her, then she would not have treated me so miserably. I was a minority in Greenville, a tiny town in Pennsylvania. If my roommate had treated me with a little more respect, I would have been very pleased and thankful to her and to the States as well.
Now, my life in the States is a happy memory, since I made new American friends and my American host family was always very kind to me.
However, the unresolved roommate situation made me realize that the global world will not come to us without our efforts and open minds.
by Park Yun-ji
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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