Watching the desert sands become blue waves beneath her, freshman Gabrielle Pritt said she stared out her airplane window, doubting her childhood dream to come to BYU–Hawaii. Her only connection to her friends and family was her dad who sat next to her on her flight to the islands but would be flying home after getting her settled. In an apartment in Laie with strangers and a two-week quarantine ahead of her, she said the future was not looking bright. However, Pritt said the two weeks opened the door to an unlikely friendship with five strangers as roommates.
Pritt is from Nevada and is majoring in graphic design. “Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always wanted to live here. When I got in, I just had to take the opportunity,” she said. She moved into her apartment on Aug. 19 and began her two-week quarantine. She said the quarantine was an awful experience, but it did assist her in building bonds with her other roommates.
Pritt’s roommate Parynn Mamone, a freshman from Utah majoring in integrated humanities, said she believes without the quarantine, the roommates would have never gotten as close as they were so fast. “I think everyone went through a real low during [quarantine]. Everyone understood each other on a deeper level,” she said.
The quarantine was so boring, said the roommates, it really gave them something to bond over. However, after leaving quarantine, the social aspect was not what they expected, Mamone added, which provided more opportunities for the roommates to socialize together.
Due to the semester being remote, fewer students moved back to the island, said Emma Weichers, a freshman from Utah majoring in hospitality and tourism management. This made meeting new people more difficult, she explained.
Mamone added how on top of the limited number of students in Laie, it was hard to find students who clicked with her.
Finding students who connected with her was also important to Weichers, she said, but making connections with other students was hard. However, with her roommates, she said the pieces fell together. “I felt like we became friends really fast,” Weichers said. Weichers said she moved in with Mamone and Mamone’s friend since high school – so it was a new experience for her, not knowing them before. “That was the most fun experience for me because I’ve never just randomly moved in with two people I didn't know."
According to Pritt, “I think it has really strengthened our friendship to go through these milestones together because we’re all in similar places in our lives. We’re all freshmen trying to figure our lives out,” she added. Spending holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving together have allowed each roommate to gain a new appreciation for the celebrations, Pritt said. “Having the holidays and big moments together has strengthened us as a friend group and house and made us more like a family again,” Pritt said.
But just like a family, there are still day-to-day problems, Pritt added. Dirty dishes are a sore subject, Pritt said, and each of her roommates agreed with her sentiment. But according to them, this was not enough to break the bond the girls have made over the past three months. “I just love them so much. Change stinks, but they’re the best change I’ve ever had,” she said.