Finding the perfect roommates

Excerpt on housing from Allie Cooper’s Bologna blog


annunci6House hunting in Bologna is a lot like a blind date: The phone rings, you start stuttering, set up an appointment, hope you make a good impression, and pray someone calls you back.

For the past week, BCSP students have ripped ads off University walls, searching housing sites and making phone calls trying to find the perfect roommates and room. In four days, every BCSP student will be moving out of the hotel and into our new homes for the rest of our stay.

At our first BCSP meeting, the director of our program, Signore Andrea Ricci, told us to keep in mind that, “This is a competition. You do not choose your roommates, they choose you.”

We all made a beeline for our laptops and began our search.

Armed with the BCSP housing guide, we scoured websites like, and in search of our perfect housemates. Some search for single rooms, others for doubles, price is an important factor for some while others are more concerned with location. Each student breaks out his or her Samsung go-phone, takes a deep breath and says, “Ciao, sono un studente/una studentessa di BCSP. Ho visto il tuo posto letto, è possibile di vedere la stanza? (Hello, I’m a BCSP student and I saw your ad, is it possible to see the room?)”

This seems easy enough, but when someone actually picks up the phone, you start to stutter. A subtle sweat begins to form and students grind their teeth and pace in their rooms or the hotel lobby.

Then of course, there’s the rejection. Some say they’ll call you and never do while others will flat-out say, “No. Non Erasmus*! (No. No overseas students!)” and hang up. And yes, you even get stood up. Sometimes twice a day.

If this doesn’t sound like stereotypical blind date symptoms to you, then you probably don’t get out much.

This process is incredibly discouraging at times. Not to mention it can create some tension if two students end up at the same showing and both end up liking the house.

The other night, BCSP hosted a dinner party where year-long and semester students met for the first time. It was reassuring to meet veterans that could show us the ropes and calm our fears about La Caccia (The Hunt).

One girl warned that house hunting can bring out the worst in people and in the past, some students have stolen ads from others to gain a competitive edge.

We’ve all been doing our best to not sink to that level. Everyone in our group gets along incredibly well, and while there is some initial tension, it seems that all of us realize that no house is worth tainting our group chemistry.

Like most blind dates, there are always some gems in the mounds of garbage and disappointments. I had the fortune of finding one last Friday.

If Bologna was a Monopoly board, this one would definitely be a Green: big rooms, great location and a reasonable price.

Via Irnerio is in the northern part of the city, right across from a running park and about a ten minute walk to the University and all the clubs and bars. The 12-foot ceilings and the floors are all made of marble, the kitchen is gigantic and the people living there are warm and inviting.

I think I’m in love.

The only thing is, there was someone else. Well, there were at least three others that I knew of.  We each wished the others the best of luck and went to our individual appointments.

I walked to my appointment, rehearsing everything I wanted to say, and hoping that this would be The One.

I spoke with three of the four roommates, all of whom seemed funny, smart and welcoming.

After I left they said they would get back to me by Sunday night. AKA The Wait.

Sunday night came and went with no phone call. The three other girls and I all begrudgingly began to look for other apartments.

Still upset from my rejection, I went to class this morning and resolved to set up at least four appointments immediately afterward. I left my phone in the hotel room to charge and trudged over to class. When I got back, I had four missed calls and a text. The missed calls read “Costanza Irnerio (Costanza was one of the girls from the apartment)” and the text said, “Hi Ally (I figured we could work out the logistics of my name later) :) abbiamo scelto te…sei interessata :) puoi passare da casa per le 13,00? (We chose you, if you’re still interested. Can you come by the house today at 1?)”

I think the entire hotel heard me and Paige screaming.

Since I didn’t get back to the hotel until 1, I’m meeting up with my future roommates in a couple of hours to discuss the details about our living situation for next year and go out for a celebratory dinner.

A perfect match.

Allie CoAllieoper – Indiana University