“Zhong Xiang Sun.” I stared at my sheet, my heart still thumping in my chest as my mind raced through the possibilities. Who was this kid? How’s my next nine months going to be? Should I have chosen a roommate instead? Can he speak English? All the natural trepidation that uncontrollably floods a rising college freshman’s mind sent my mind reeling with the possibilities of what much talked about “college life” would be like. “Let’s go man, I’m not waiting all day.” I put down the roommate assignment sheet that had just arrived in the mail and followed my impatient friend out the door and too his car, vowing to put my worries to rest until I was forced to think about it again.
“Herro?” “Hi Mrs. Sun is Zhong here?” “Oh he’s out with friends, call back later. Who are you?” “I’m Aneel, his roommate at Vanderbilt.” A 20 minute conversation ensued in which I rotated speaking to my future-roomates mother in Mandarin and English. “You sound very nice. I will tell Zhong to call you back.” I hung up the phone and took a deep breath. His parents sounded strict and new to this country. Hopes of my roommate being my best friend faded as I doubted the likelihood of him being a normal and well-adjusted kid.
I opened the door to a surgically clean, white-washed room. It was surprisingly small but expectedly foreign. I stepped onto the tile floor and was met with a squeak form the recently buffed tile floors. This was definitely not home yet. But I was more concerned with my roommate. I looked behind me in the closet and saw 7 t-shirts, some underwear and socks, 3 pairs of shorts, and 4 dress shirts. I felt like an idiot when I looked over at my half-full closet. And I thought I had packed light. His closet was literally empty. I was tempted to ruffle through his clothes and try to get an idea of his style, maybe that would give me some insight into who my new roommate would be. My heart started beating in my chest again and I sidled over to his closet and lifted his first pair of shorts. Vineyard Vines. A preppy, fratty brand of shorts, fitting for a typical Vanderbilt kid. It put me slightly at ease, at least this kid wasn’t a FOB. I continued to sift through his clothes, knowing this was wrong, but unable to control myself. I needed to know more about the kid I was going to be living with for the next nine months. I was closely inspecting a purple Banana Republic shirt when I heard the door open behind it. This was going to be hard to explain.
To be continued…