Roommates Series: Kaleb & Muratidzwa

“I’ve learnt that living together with another person isn’t formulaic: it requires understanding the other person, considering their background, passions, fears, and point of view”, says Muratidzwa, a second-year Robotics and Intelligent Systems major and roommate to Kaleb. Although the two knew of each other in their first year at Jacobs, they were randomly allocated as roommates this year through Jacobs’ housing system. Despite not being close beforehand, living together has made them close friends: “I like the fact that I can drop by his room, whenever I need advice”, says Kaleb.

Muratidzwa and Kaleb definitely have an admirable friendship. Seeing as Kaleb is a second-year Industrial Engineering and Management major, he has enrolled in similar courses to Muratidzwa’s, specifically in programming. “We often work on coding assignments together”, says Kaleb, “and I know I can rely on Kuda [Muratidzwa] to help me when I don’t understand a concept because of how well he understands the course”. The two have a great dynamic – Kaleb looks to Muratidzwa for help with their programming assignments and Muratidzwa enjoys being asked as the recognition of his knowledge on the subject “makes [him] feel honoured to help anytime Kaleb asks”.

The two roommates evidently feel so much respect towards one another, and being friends with the two, I can certainly vouch for this. When interviewing them, I noticed how honest and communicative they were with each other. Muratidzwa echoed my thoughts during the interview, asserting that “communication is key, not only in becoming good roommates, but mainly in developing strong friendships”. As with any roommate pair, there have been issues with clean-ups and occasional misunderstandings, “but we have never had a fight. Communicating respectfully with one another is so important, and I think having mutual respect for each other is what’s made us great roommates and even better friends”, says Kaleb. Muratidzwa continues this sentiment – “sometimes I just don’t feel like talking in the mornings and I can be quite grumpy, but I really appreciate how Kaleb has never taken it personally – that level of respect we have is why we’re always able to keep peace.”.

I also asked both of them what object in their rooms were the most significant to themselves. Pictured here is Muratidzwa’s corkboard, the object in his room he treasures most. “It’s a way for me to articulate my thoughts and reminds me what my beliefs and goals are”, says Muratidzwa, “and I find that it really inspires me”. Just above the corkboard, in the Ndebele language, reads ‘Ngubani?’ (in English, ‘Who are you?’). Muratidzwa, being from Zimbabwe, proclaims himself as a huge fan of the movie Black Panther “because of its representation of African culture”. The quote above his corkboard is taken from a prominent scene in Black Panther, and Muratidzwa feels a strong sense of connection with it. “It’s a really good scene about identity affirmation and formation – it reminds me of who I am, where I come from, and my purpose in life”, asserts Kuda.

For Kaleb, pictured here is a framed photo of his family with a tiny passport photo of his friend in the corner. “This is the most significant object in my room because it’s nostalgic and reminds me of my childhood.”, says Kaleb, “It’s like a portal to home, you know?”. Everyone gets struck with homesickness from time to time, so having an object in your room that reminds you of home is absolutely a lovely way to feel comforted. Kaleb is from Ethiopia, and, as such, being far away from home can certainly feel tough at times. “Family is the most important thing to me”, he says. When asked about the significance of the passport photo of his friend, this is what Kaleb had to say: “I consider him a big part of my family. He’s one of my oldest friends! We met in kindergarten and we’ve been best friends ever since. We only talk every once in a while, but even though we’re a continent apart it feels like nothing’s changed.”.

As part of his role in the social media team here at Jacobs, Vahid, a second-year Computer Science major, initiated the ‘Roommate Series’ project that you may have seen on many of Jacobs’ social media platforms. Kaleb and Muratidzwa were one of the many roommate pairs Vahid has written about over the course of his campaign, so if you study at Jacobs or are thinking of enrolling yourself here, definitely keep a lookout anytime a new Roommate Series story is needed! “[My campaign] started as an attempt to highlight the friendships and closeness of some students and their roommates.”, says Vahid. “It is always interesting to find out how two roommates eventually turned into friends. Sometimes they are friends before, other times it can be something as simple as not being able to open the door that turns two strangers into good friends. I think that is the most compelling aspect of the campaign for me.”.

Together, Kaleb and Muratidzwa are great examples of what it means to be good roommates. It takes a lot of communication towards one another to be able to maintain a strong friendship with your roommate, and although every roommate pair is bound to encounter some disagreements here and there, having mutual respect for the other is ultimately what makes a good roommate. When asked about being roommates with Muratidzwa, Kaleb feels that he has learnt so much from his experience: “I really feel like being open to learning about each other’s interests exposed me to his passions and interests. Same goes for him as he’s a fan of Ethiopian music now!”.


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