My freshman year, I lived in a triple. My roommates were not like me. One of them is famous for her warmth and hospitality—we all call her “mom.” She’s Muslim, ethnically Sudanese, and from Alabama. The other is a passionate libertarian and one of the most articulate people I know. She’s Catholic, ethnically Romanian, and from Kansas. And then me—sarcastic and excellent at Netflix bingeing. I am Muslim, ethnically Pakistani, and from Baltimore.
Our room was crowded, but we found enough space for each of us, whether that meant making time for a college football game, displaying the Constitution on the wall, or playing a Kanye album on repeat. Over the course of the year, I got used to the rhythm of Arabic every night and hour long “libertarian rants” almost as often. I got used to 2 a.m. conversations where we learned more about each other. We compared our mother tongues of Arabic, Romanian, and Urdu to find commonalities—some of which, like the word for “enemy,” proved helpful when we were around others. We went to Harvard-Yale together, and later in the month, attended the Harvard Islamic Society’s Fall Dinner.