Lessons Learned: From first-year roommates to dear friends

Noel Lee/The Occidental

Culture editor Katie Moore and Opinions editor Shreya Srinivasan reflect on their college journey, starting as first-year roommates, staying in touch through the pandemic, and graduating side by side as alumni of the newspaper.

Shreya to Katie:

Somewhere in the fathomless depths of my Notes app, hidden amongst a plethora of uncompleted to-do lists, class notes that date back to my first-year seminar and book recommendations I have yet to get around to, is a note titled “the nine wonders of the Moore-Srinivasan residence.” For the sake of privacy, I won’t share the entire list, but my favorite amongst them is likely the one-and-a-half-foot cardboard cutout of renowned Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli. It was not uncommon to hear the opening notes of “Con te partirò” drifting out of Braun-105 if you happened to pass by between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.

Within weeks of setting foot on campus, that first-floor double and its many manifested wonders had become my home away from home, due in no small part to my randomly assigned roommate Katie Moore.

Amongst friends and peers, I cannot say I’ve ever been known for my social grace. If some are considered social butterflies, I am a social larva that hasn’t quite registered that there’s a following phase to the metamorphic cycle. When I first met my assigned roommate, messaging back and forth on Instagram about hobbies, living habits and favorite foods the week before we arrived for Orientation, I was certain Katie was born a butterfly.

In the year that we lived together, I never once felt like an intruder in the space that we shared. Katie was, and still is, remarkably funny and personable in a manner that puts you at ease before you even realize it, and never failed to include everyone present in the conversation regardless of their association with one another. I wouldn’t have met some of the people I consider my closest friends if she hadn’t stuck by me at dorm events or invited me along on her explorations of the neighborhoods surrounding Oxy.

At home, even friends I met later in high school were friends of friends or people I’d shared classes with. There was a familiarity I took for granted until I was sitting on the floor of Braun’s common room surrounded by new faces and my own stumbling lack of sociability. Watching her brave the first greeting, reaching out to someone to ask a question about their hometown or comment on an interesting accessory, fostered an admiration for her I’ve never quite lost.

There is work that goes into meeting new people, getting to know them and putting your energy into maintaining that relationship. To have known this with my friends at home and to bear that work in a foreign setting were more disparate than I had imagined they would be. Katie made that experience infinitely easier, and the courage I learned from her is something that helps me in my relationships to this day.

So, Katie my dear, there is no one I would rather have sang along to “Les Poissons” and “Agony” with at 4 a.m. on a weekday morning; no one else I would have chosen to share the experience of our air conditioning plummeting to subzero temperatures in the winter when we were trying to warm it up; no one whose choice in movie nights will ever compare to our viewings of “Cat in the Hat” and “Cinderella III”. To my first, and one of my dearest, college friend, thank you for taking the time to know me, and thank you for teaching me to unlearn the fear of choosing to know others.

Katie to Shreya:

She’s going to kill me for this, but one of the first things Shreya and I did together was break up with her high school boyfriend — and we hadn’t even met yet! There we were, two 18-year-olds chatting via Instagram DM with me giving totally unqualified advice to a girl I barely knew but was apparently going to be living with. Random roommate assignments really are a funny thing.

I’ll admit, I was nervous to be moving in with someone totally new and from a different world than me. What if we didn’t get along? What if it’s super weird? What if I can’t be myself around her?

Despite all my fears, looking back I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Shreya and I were a match made in roommate heaven and even after being split up by a pandemic we are still close to this day — to the point where my dad still calls her his “other daughter.”

Through all of this though, the biggest lesson I learned from my time with Shreya was how to accept all of myself. Just being around her, I slowly learned to embrace things I was initially too anxious to share with new friends at college. Whether it was forcing her to make TikToks with me, incessantly quoting the cinematic masterpiece that is Dr. Suess’ “The Cat in the Hat” or sitting on our respective beds in companionable silence as we each separately watched and fangirled over different episodes of Teen Wolf, things with Shreya were always comfortable and safe.

So as I slowly got more confident in myself while living with Shreya, I also learned that I wanted to bring that feeling with me moving forward so I could share it with others. Her steady and calm energy helped ground me in what it meant to be both a caring roommate and a caring friend. She knew how to check in on me and knew when to be silly and when to be serious. It is a lovely balance that I continue to try and emulate to this day.

Now, for those who know Shreya well, you know that she is just as chaotic as she is calm — and that chaos is something I love to emulate as well. She is the full package of all things strange and special and I really am a better person for knowing and learning from her. I’m almost as proud of us for staying friends as I am for her finally getting her drivers license, something I’ve been trying to get her to do since we were 18.

So, my dear Shreya, even though the future is uncertain for us both, I can’t wait to watch you grow and make you come visit me across the country once we graduate. I’ll make sure to regularly check for cheap flights from the Bay to D.C., and in the meantime, I’ll send you vlogs of me singing along to “Agony” wishing you were there to harmonize with me.

Contact Shreya Srinivasan at ssrinivasan@oxy.edu and Katie Moore at kmoore2@oxy.edu.


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