The first year experience in college can be an adventure, a challenge or a terrifying experience. According to Anna Altman writing on the New York Times blog, “People tend to try to narrow the pool of potential roommates to someone they are more likely to get along with.” But what if we decide to live with a person with different beliefs, points of view, personality, race, culture? The article “College Education Should Include Rooming with a Stranger” discusses this topic, whether it is best for roommates to be mutually requested or randomly chosen. I believe that higher education is about learning more than we know. Living with a stranger can lead us to become a more understanding person, have a different perspective of life, and be successful.
To begin with, living with a person unlike ourselves can make us see life without boundaries. In other words, a stranger can open many doors in our lives and help us become more open-minded. There is much to be gained from letting strangers come in our lives and letting new ideas and views come in with them. As a new resident in the United States, I have experienced many changes in my life. One of them was living with someone that I did not know. It was hard, but I made the best of that experience. I learned how to accept different beliefs, and this person also showed me a more expanded world than the one I lived in before. Living with an unfamiliar person might be uncomfortable, but we can learn a lot from it. Everyone has a distinct story and point of view; anyone can gain insight from that.
At the same time, interacting with a stranger encourages a person to be more understanding. For instance, we judge other’s actions everyday, but we never question why they act the way they act; On Anna Altman’s article shows that not only rooming with, but also interacting with strangers can impact our lives. For example, Alex Vargas, an employee at National Debt Relief (a company where people look for financial assistance), argues that “The only way to understand people’s actions is interacting with them,” and he also shares a life experience with an unknown person:
One time I got a client with a huge credit card debt load and the first thing that came to mind was someone just living beyond their means, perhaps financial irresponsibility on their behalf. However, after building a rapport with the client and asking questions as to what path he took to get where he was today financially, I found out that he had even bigger medical issues with cancer. The client had a great amount of medical expenses, including chemotherapy which isn’t fully covered by insurance.
If Vargas had not gotten to know his client better, he would not be able to comprehend and accept the different ways of life.
Additionally, living with a stranger can lead a person to success. One great way to succeed is to have people skills along with to be able to interact with different social circles and to open the mind to new ideas. “Learning to interact effectively with others is a central element of success in adult life in both work and personal contexts.”(Baxter qtd. in Altman). To survive the real world, it is important to place ourselves in different shoes and think outside the box; living with a stranger will encourage that change.
Given these points—that living with someone can show us the world from a different perspective allow us to become more open-minded and prepare us for future relations with different social groups—it becomes clear how living with a stranger can lead to success. “We need diversity – in teams, organizations and society as a whole – if we are to change, grow and innovate.”(Phillips). Rooming with a stranger can lead a student to have a higher education, to experience more fully what college can offer, and to be better prepared for the future.
Altman, Anna. “A College Education Should Include Rooming With a Stranger.” The New York Times. 7 Sept. 2014. Web. 22 Sept. 2015.
Phillips, Katherine. “How Diversity Makes Us Smarter.” Scientific American Global RSS. 16 Sept. 2014. Web. 22 Sept. 2015.
Vargas, Alex. Personal interview. 23 Sept. 2015.
One thought on “A Stranger Can Lead to Success.”
“Living with a Stranger Can Lead to Success” presents a thoughtful look at Anna Altman’s New York Times blog post and effectively likens the experience of rooming with a stranger to other similar interactions: living with a parent you have not seen for years and working with a client who is virtually unknown to you. More attention to idiom (not using “on” for “in”) and format (periods don’t precede closing quotation marks) would strengthen the piece. Also be mindful that the personal interview works cited entry is used for interviews conducted by the writer (you).
In the future, when you submit hard copies of your drafts for English 131 and electronic copies to Canvas for other courses, be sure that your manuscript or file complies with format guidelines, including a correctly formatted MLA-style works cited list.