In a cozy, blue North Campus house, you can find Heather Worth and her five roommates baking, having mock 6th Street nights and supporting each other through online classes.
The girls first met through the Kappa Delta sorority, but they have grown stronger as a group through the pandemic and its challenges.
“When you're living with people and you can't get out of the house, there's definitely tension in the sense (that) you want to get out, but I think we're really good about noticing that and being there for each other when we need to” said Worth, a finance and Spanish junior.
In response to COVID-19 restrictions, the options for socializing are limited and some students are spending more time than ever inside with their roommates. Through house rules, constant communication and respecting boundaries, students like Worth have been able to successfully create a healthy roommate dynamic.
“In general, I feel like I'm (making) more fun memories with them because I’m with them 24/7,” Worth said. “You don’t really have to go grab a coffee to hangout. You just come downstairs and sit on the couch, and you can have this fun conversation.”
Alex Allen, a communication and leadership junior, lives with two girls she met through Moody’s Communication Council. She said they hold weekly game nights and foster a pitbull terrier mix named Granger.
“We've become like a little girl gang or something,” Allen said. “I have never really had that sort of friend atmosphere before, so it's been really cool.”
Now that the majority of their time is spent inside the house, Allen said she and her roommates have regular conversations about caring for their dog, house chores and COVID-19 precautions.
“We're pretty much some of the only people that we hang out with, (and) we have our little bubble,” Allen said. “So we've been kind of forced to spend time with each other, but that's been a wonderful thing. We can sort of socialize and still have that part of our lives, even though everything's online.”
Despite living in close quarters, the distance between physics senior Gina Chen and her roommate has only increased. The pair met during freshman orientation and have lived together for the entirety of college, but they have grown apart as friends over time.
“We just have different expectations on how much we should communicate about where we're going,” Chen said. “I feel like I spend a lot of energy thinking about how to resolve conflicts that I could be spending on other things, especially since I'm applying to grad school right now.”
Chen said she considered moving back home for the semester because of the tension between the pair, but she decided to stay in Austin because she doesn’t have a workspace at home. While she said she doesn’t regret this decision, she has had to look for ways to cope.
“Anytime we have a disagreement, it’s a lot harder to de-stress about it,” Chen said. “I try to go on picnics with one of my friends at the park that I live close to.”
As students navigate the dynamics of living with roommates during the pandemic, Worth said it's important to be communicative and flexible.
“Everyone's aware that there needs (to be) a certain amount of grace given (to each other), so we're just trying to find that,” Worth said. “We have this really cool ability to take burdens off (each other’s) shoulders, keep it fun and make life happy.”