Sibling life at Norwich

Identical twins Ashley and Courtney Nau, from Sunrise, Fla., have been inseparable for the past 20 years.

For the two sophomore physics majors, college life hasn’t changed their relationship or living situation from what it was growing up.

“We really didn’t have much of a say last year but we chose to do it this year,” Courtney said. Her sister Ashley added, “When we picked beds it was easy. Courtney said, ‘well I had top bunk as a kid so I guess I’ll take that again.’”

The Naus are able to remain close because they are roommates. “Share a womb together, share a room together,” Ashley joked.

At Norwich University, some students have a special experiences with their roommates – because they are siblings.

In interviews, siblings, both twins and singletons (sisters and brothers), explained their reasons for wanting to live with each other.

The Nau twins chose to because of convenience and closeness. “It’s so easy. We have the same habits and level of cleanliness, so why change?” Courtney said.

“I am guaranteed no awkwardness or annoyances. I know how she lives and I don’t mind continuing to live with her. Besides, living with her makes life super-easy and is like having a home away from home with her,” Ashley said.

Her sister added, “We like it because we grew up sharing a room and because we shared a womb. It’s just us two in here and it’s nice because it’s like how it was years before back at home,” Ashley said.

For Charlene Huyler, a 21-year-old senior electrical and computer engineering major from Westport, Mass., it was important to her to spend her “last year” with her sister at Norwich, because Charlene will be graduating and commissioning this May.

“We kind of just wanted it to be our last year because I’m going to be going into the Air Force and she didn’t know who she was going to room with,” Charlene said.

For her sister, Kimberly Huyler, a sophomore nursing major, familiarity and trust is what made her decide to live with Charlene.

“Sometimes I feel like it’s hard living with someone you don’t know so I figured it would be fun to live with my sister because I already do it at home and I knew I could deal with her. Also, I get all her senior privileges too,” said Kimberly, who is 20 years old.

For fraternal twins Justin and Joshua Lindor, two 20-year-old criminal justice majors, they also chose to live together because of familiarity.

“It makes Norwich a lot easier to deal with because you always have that person to go hang out with, who you’re familiar with, and who just knows you,” Justin said.

Joshua described their living accommodation as “convenient” because of how long the pair have been together. “It’s more convenient because I lived with him my whole life so I might as well continue to live with him,” he said.

There are certain advantages to living with a brother or sister. For the Huyler sisters, it’s sharing things in the room.

“I just took her index cards this morning. She actually didn’t even notice until I told her,” Charlene said. Kimberly added, “If she takes something of mine, I’m not mad but if it’s a stranger taking your stuff, it’s totally different.”

Something else they share is clothes and food. “She is definitely always asking to try on my clothes. We do share a lot because we are the same size so that’s really good, and we do share all the food,” Kimberly said.

“I think it’s just better like the fact that we can share everything like our big stashes of food everywhere. We spend like an hour grocery shopping together,” Charlene said.

Kimberly explained that confrontation with a non-related roommate is often “hard,” but with having her sister as her roommate that isn’t an issue.

“I had two roommates last year and if I had a disagreement with them it was kind of hard to confront them because you don’t want to hurt their feelings because they’re your friends. With my sister, if I’m mad at her, I can just say it. I’m not afraid to hurt her feelings because she has to forgive me because she’s my sister,” Kimberly said.

Charlene agreed, pointing out that there is no issue with confrontation because of their compatible relationship. “If something was wrong or I had to confront her about it, I can just tell her. For the most part, we get along really well,” she said.

Thee is another advantage for Kimberly and Charlene. “We’re really close, we like doing a lot of things together. We are very similar but at the same time we are different so it just works out really well,” Kimberly said.

A further benefit for Kimberly is that she can feel at home even while away at school.

“I remember last year I would be way more homesick, especially during rookdom. I would always wish I could see (Charlene) more but I couldn’t. Now I don’t even think about it because it feels like I’m home because she’s with me,” Kimberly said.

There are also certain disadvantages that siblings experience by being college roommates. Kimberly explained that she has had to adapt to being around her sister so much.

“I’m not used to being around her this much anymore, especially since last year because I was a rook so I barely ever saw her and even when she was in college before that. We just weren’t together as much so now I’m just remembering how it is to be around her all the time,” Kimberly said.

Kimberly continued, “When we were little we didn’t really get along, so now I’m starting to remember why, but I still really like it.”

Joshua has a similar issue with his brother. “A disadvantage is I’ve lived with him for so long and it gets annoying being around him so much because I know everything about him,” he said.

For the Naus, being together is a constant reminder of home, which isn’t always a good thing. “We both enable homesickness even more. We end up talking about home and reminiscing, which makes it worse in some ways,” Courtney said.

No matter the advantages and disadvantages, these siblings have a special bond with each other that differs from the one that regular roommates have.

“There is a bond and I describe it more as an energy,” Courtney said. The Nau’s described this energy with their own phrase, calling it “twin rage.”

“Twin rage is when you get amped up off your twin’s energy and you get super hyped. We have those moments,” Ashley said.

Their “twin rage” is so strong that they even recognize each other’s “sniffles” from a distance.

“Two weeks ago I was walking on the first deck of our building, and Ashley was walking on third deck and I guess she could hear me sniffling in the stairwell and she turned around and was like ‘Court is that you?’ And I’m like, how did you know?” Courtney said.

“We are really close, we relate to each other and have just experienced things family-wise, socially, and in school that only we’ve gone through compared to others, so we have that strong connection,” Charlene said.

Charlene continued that being sisters but of different ages is a plus. “I think the age gap between us is nice because we don’t feel the need to compete with each other. She does her thing in school and I do mine, we don’t compare grades or anything like that, and I think it’s good we don’t.”

For the Lindors, the bond of brotherhood is one where they can always count on each other. “Having a twin is more than just being siblings. If he needs me, I’ll do anything for him and he’d do the same for me,” Joshua said.

Ashley and Courtney suggested that the reason they “never get tired” of each other is that they make an effort to know what the other is thinking.

“Communication is key. That’s our number one thing,” Ashley said. Courtney added, “We don’t speak through each other’s minds. We do actually have to talk to each other. It helps if you communicate.”

“That is a learning process that I’m grateful to have because it’s been 20 plus years of doing so, and it’s great,” Ashley said.

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