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Friday, August 22, 2014 | Last updated: 2:53am

Roomsurf: the new wave of meeting people



I divide my university experience into two categories: college and school. School consists of going to class, doing homework and taking tests. College is being in clubs, hanging out with friends and (for me) living far away from home. So while classroom clickers and D2L improve the “school” experience at the UA, there’s one site that has dramatically altered my “college” experience: Roomsurf.com.

When I chose to come to Tucson, I didn’t think I’d know a single person when school started. But because of Roomsurf, when I came for New Student Orientation mid-summer, I knew several girls who I met with while I was in town. The UA told me to use the site in order to find a roommate, and since I wasn’t completely sold on the whole randomly-selected-possibly-homicidal-person-watching-me-sleep option, I made an account.

In a day when roommate-seeking Craigslist ads seem a little sketchy (I mean they’re pretty darn anonymous) and online dating is the norm (relationship algorithms: hard to argue with math!), Roomsurf makes a lot of sense.

For those who are unfamiliar, Roomsurf is a website which allows users to find compatible roommates. It logs users in through Facebook and users from the UA must also type in a housing key indicating that they will be living on campus during the upcoming year. A picture is automatically uploaded from the person’s Facebook, along with their age and gender. Students then write a self-description, outlining their planned activities such as jobs, clubs and recreational interests. Finally, they take a survey that asks multiple-choice questions about the person’s cleanliness level, regular sleeping hours, preferred room temperature, etc.

And with that, you are let loose into a social networking frenzy of messages and new connections that may forever change your college experience.

You are given a list of students that is several pages long, sorted in order of highest to lowest percent of compatibility based on your surveys. In the list, you see pictures, names and ages. If you click on a name, you can go to the person’s profile to read their description and see their survey answers.

In order to see which dorm a person will be living in, you have to click on their profile. This seemed like a major flaw to me at first: Why waste time clicking through dozens of profiles just in order to find a person living in my same dorm?

But then I started getting messages. Some messages were from girls wanting to talk about being roommates, but others were from people in other dorms who just saw that we had common interests.

In my experience, there is a natural progression of friendship forming through Roomsurf. It starts with a message. Then a Facebook friend request. Messages are henceforth sent through Facebook. Much cyber-stalking is done. And then sometimes, if you’re really serious about maybe making things work, you Skype.

I spent half the summer before my freshman year on that website. And after stalking and messaging and Skyping and meeting at orientation, I finally decided on my top three roommate choices. But as fate would have it, I didn’t get any of them. Assignment day came around, and the fateful line next to the word roommate on my UAccess account read the name of a complete stranger.

And you know what? That complete stranger and I have made great roommates for the past two years. Now going into our junior year, we live in a house with a girl I met on Roomsurf, and that girl’s freshman roommate who she met on Roomsurf. They like to go hiking sometimes with a friend they met on Roomsurf, while I ride my bike with friends from Roomsurf. The site may not be a cure-all solution to roommate horror stories nor is it the only way to meet a compatible friend, but I can say for certain that without it, my college experience would have never been the same.

Whether you’re coming to live on campus from across the country or from across town, are a freshman or a returning student, Roomsurf is a valuable networking resource. It’s completely free, which is music to any college kid’s ears, and it could help you foster life-long relationships, especially if you think outside of the box of only using it to find a potential roommate.


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