Tensions among roommates rise during months-long quarantine

As COVID-19 cases spike and the constant interaction between roommates remains, the dynamics of many households have changed. Photo by Matt Siciliano-Salazar | The Signal

Living with roommates is part of the college experience. For many, the memories and lifelong bonds formed create a second family and home. That said, sharing a living space with others is bound to create drama and disagreements. As COVID-19 cases spike and the constant interaction between roommates remains, the dynamics of many households have changed. 

After nine months of coexisting with COVID-19, many have adapted to adjusted routines and lifestyles. However, while everyone is living differently than they were a year ago, many don’t agree on the right way to live life during a pandemic.

While some students choose to still take social distancing and self-isolation very seriously, others are more lenient with going to public places and seeing friends. 

Being a good roommate is hard, and during a global pandemic, it’s even more challenging. 

Recent Gallup statistics show that three in four Americans have isolated themselves from people outside their household. This social shift affects people’s emotional and social lives, even driving some crazy. 

MedicalNewsToday defines cabin fever as “the psychological symptoms that a person may experience when confined to their home for extended periods … this includes symptoms of irritability, restlessness and loneliness.” 

Isolation-induced restlessness has set in for many students. 

Sophomore Elvis Khinga spent much of his college life isolated from the rest of his class. 

“There is definitely a difference of opinion,” he said. “While some are staying in and being cautious, I feel like others have reached their limit. While they don’t want to spread it, they are tired of staying in and finally want the college experience they were waiting so long for.”

Freshman Isabel Haynes spends much of her time with her roommate, hardly seeing anyone outside of their apartment. 

“Personally, my roommate and I were extremely isolated to our rooms due to fear of getting the virus,” she said. “We were each other’s only source of in-person social interaction on a lot of the days. We are literally stuck with each other, so we might as well get along.”

Alumna Caroline Bienkowski lives with three other girls and stresses the importance of communication during the pandemic.

“It’s been important to have open and clear communication and set rules for our apartment,” she said. “Living with people during COVID-19 has been a challenge. We all want to go out and socialize, but know we shouldn’t.” 

There has never been a time when roommates have needed to discuss going out and socializing like now. Nightly outings aren’t as simple as they once were. The world as millions knew it has changed, and so have household dynamics. Increased time spent together and new house rules are the new reality so many are learning to live with. 

“It is a strange time to have roommates,” Bienkowski said. “But as time has gone on, my roommates and I learn how to handle trying to have a normal life amid a pandemic while respecting each other and our differences.”