As the end of the fall semester approaches, students across campus are becoming anxious to go home and experience a change of pace. The daily routine at small liberal arts colleges can begin to feel monotonous, falling into a rhythm where nothing new seems to happen. As it turned out for Justin Franklin ’18, life at the University still had more surprises in store for him.
On Nov.14, Franklin discovered that his roommate from Toronto, Simon Fielder ’18, had pretended to not understand English for the entire semester. Franklin walked in on Fielder engaging in a fierce political debate with a friend, during which Fielder was quoting works by political philosophers Thomas Hobbes and Adam Smith, as well as citing passages from the United States Constitution verbatim while defending his argument.
“I was shocked. The whole semester, I never heard him speak more than a few words of halting English. He would scrunch his face and then type whatever he wanted to say into Google translate,” Franklin said.
On campus, Fielder is involved in the American classical literature society and is captain of the public speaking club. He is a presidential fellow, double majoring in linguistics and English. The two roommates were paired through the first-year housing survey, where Franklin and Fielder both indicated that they retained strong political ideologies.
“When I first moved in, I was excited to engage in rigorous debates with whoever my roommate was going to be. On move-in day though, I found out that political debate for Justin meant talking about who were the most attractive members of Congress and why it was impossible for Sarah Palin to actually see Russia from her backyard. It just seemed like a better idea to feign silence,” Fielder said.
Fielder has plans to go home this Thanksgiving break with Franklin and his family.
“It’s nice to know that he’s fluent. I’ll be sure to get to know him on the car ride back. I have so many questions about what it’s like to live in Europe,” Franklin said.