BY ANNA SPIELMANN | The Statesman A lot of persistence, a few tricks of fate and no expectations. That’s how four students ended up living together. It all started in August with one phone call from over 7,500 miles away.
“We’re going to find someone Bengali for you,” Azrin Awal remembers her parents saying.
She was an incoming freshman that wanted to live off-campus to save on living costs. Awal’s parents wanted somebody they could trust so they put her in touch with Rudrakshi Biswas, a recently married graduate student from Bangladesh. They started looking for housing together but it wasn’t easy. One of the first landlords they encountered was quick to stereotype.
“He conceived us as foreigners right away,” Awal said. “He’s like, ‘You guys better have your social security cards so I can sue you. If you don’t, then I’m not renting out to you.’”
They decided to keep looking. After finding Micki Grover’s post on Craigslist, they connected over the idea of budget-friendly living and found a four-bedroom place. With only two days until school started, Fardowsa Abdinoor came along. A last-minute transfer student, she also turned to Craigslist for housing.
“For me, it was easy choosing things,” Abdinoor said.
She liked the place and her future roommates right away.
Grover danced around in excitement after placing Abdinoor’s deposit in the landlord’s hand. The search was over. Awal, Biswas, Grover and Abdinoor had officially become roommates--but they didn’t realize they were going to become such close friends.
Initially, there were some fears about entering a living situation with strangers.
“When I came, I didn’t know about the culture here,” Biswas said. “Should I be really too serious with everyone or should I be really, really cool?”
It didn’t take long for Biswas to find her place. Soon enough, she was joining the routine, dancing around the house. Each roommate brought her signature dance move, their attempted imitations of one another usually end up in fits of laughter instead.
“Dance parties really bond people,” Grover said.
Although they vary in age and come from diverse cultural backgrounds, they consider their differences to be learning opportunities.
At first, Grover was worried sharing food would be tough due to different dietary choices and meal times. However, they took the time to learn each other’s preferences so they could share weekly family-dinner style meals.
“I like the diversity,” Awal said. “We all cook food together and sit around our little, tiny table and eat. I like those moments.”
It seems like no matter what happens, their experiences all eventually bring them closer. One weekend when Biswas was out of town, one of Grover’s friends was visiting. Together, they went out for sushi, explored Enger Tower and the aquarium and photographed the experience.
“I saw their pictures on Facebook and was so jealous,” Biswas. “They went to places without me and they got a replacement.”
Since then, their big adventures have been more carefully planned. It’s the little daily things that add up, making their house into a home and their friendship into a family. Grover and Awal ride the bus to school together and watch Korean dramas. Fardowsa and Biswas work on their civil engineering homework together.
It’s a mix of the family roles they have picked up, support they have for each other and their ability to joke around that keep living together fun and functional.
After some discussion on family structure, it was decided that Awal is the child who likes to keep things clean, Biswas cooks and vacuums the most and Abdinoor is the entertainment. As for Grover, she’s been deemed the dad of the house because she kills the spiders and deals with the landlord.
Even though setting up their living situation was hectic, all four agree it turned out much better than expected.
According to Awal, communication, trust in each other and support have been the keys to maintaining a friendship while living together.
“This arrangement is so temporary,” Grover said. “It’s so sad because it’s going to be over.” While life may take them separate ways after this academic year, they believe a lifelong friendship is in store.