Colliding Cultures: Boarding students share their roommate experiences


Hank Xue, Staff Writer

At Darlington, students meet people from different countries, and different cultures collide. For boarding students with a roommate from a different country, these differences offer a chance to experience something new. Students noted these differences make school life more exciting and diverse, and they also shared how these differences cause issues at times. 


For sophomore Linda Pan, who comes from Shandong, China, her freshman year was her first year in an American high school.


 “I was nervous when I met my roommate. My roommate is from Spain, and she speaks a different language,” Pan said. “Sometimes, my roommate and I do not know how to describe one thing [to each other], and the accent sometimes causes misunderstanding.”


“Also, I do not understand what she says at all when she talks to her friends in Spanish,” Pan said. “The difference did not cause a bad experience, though, as we manage our own stuff.”


Even though Pan notes the language barrier with her roommate, she did reflect positively on her experience.


“Though we didn’t communicate frequently because of the language difference, we respect each other. We turned the room temperature higher, because she also likes warmth.” 


As for something she learned, Pan said, “The best thing is that I learned more about Spanish culture. Also, I learned some new Spanish words.”


Junior Oscar Jin, also from China, shared his roommate experience.


“There is not really conflict as we typically manage our own businesses, but there might be some specific habits that I could not get used to,” Jin said. “… If my roommate likes to bring a bunch of people in the room to have a party, that might be a problem.”


Jin touched on cultural differences, as well.


“My roommate believes in some traditional Chinese cultures, while I am a pure scientist. Some stereotypes about traditional Chinese culture led to some misunderstandings,” Jin said. “I understand the difference and respect whatever he believes.”


Like Pan, Jin reflected positively on some aspects of his experience.


“My ability to communicate in English is better,” Jin said. He also mentioned that he liked “[getting] to know the different cultures and [expanding his] worldview.”


Jin’s new roommate this year, junior Oliver Liu, shared his experience navigating cultural differences.


“The thing that is not so good about living with roommates from different countries is the different habits,” Liu said. “Sometimes, one thing that is [normal] isn’t what the other believes.” 


However, Liu noted what he described as positive takeaways from living with a roommate from a different country.


“You get to learn their culture, from their language to the food they like to eat and from the music they prefer to listen to [to] the clothes they like to wear,” Liu said.


Liu summarized what he felt was key to mastering the roommate experience.


“Tolerance and communication are two important changes [for me],” Liu said. “Tolerate the difference between you and the others. Communicate with the others so both of you have an understanding of the reason behind the actions, and it helps to build a harmonious dorm life.”