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Saturday, May 25, 2024
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Chinese roommate, meet Algerian roommate

The wholesome pair bring levity to the UB Snapchat story

<p>UB internet celebrities: "Chinese roommate" and "Algerian roommate."</p>

UB internet celebrities: "Chinese roommate" and "Algerian roommate."

Amid the deluge of heated Israel-Palestine discourse and Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) abortion arguments are two characters bringing levity to the UB 2024 Snapchat story. 

Senior computer science major Mohamed Ali Larbi Daho Bachir and 2023 graduate Jorge Zhang, better known as “Algerian roommate” and “Chinese roommate” respectively, regularly post wholesome and humorous videos of their daily lives and travels to the UB 2024 Snapchat story.

“I personally eat it up, I will say,” junior psychology major Laiba Qader said. “You see all this stuff happening and it’s someone with their Algerian roommate, taking them to Wendy’s.” 

Bachir and Zhang were brought together as perfect strangers when they found a Facebook post seeking tenants and moved into the same house in 2021.

The duo became fast friends over their shared love of soccer.

“I was going to play soccer at Kunz [Stadium] and I was wearing a Man City jersey, and this guy was sleeping in the living room,” Bachir said. “He said, ‘Yo, do you support Man City?’ I said yes, he said, ‘Oh, I’m a Real Madrid fan.’”

The pair began attending pickup soccer games and cooking together, and, in short order, they started filming their time together.

Zhang is originally from China and moved to Texas in 2015. Bachir is originally from Algeria and moved to Binghamton in 2016 to attend SUNY Broome. As they grew closer, their differing backgrounds became apparent.

“In Asia, we like to cook rice separately, and every time this guy cooks he makes spaghetti and rice together,” Zhang said. “He also eats a lot of bread and coffee. I like to eat rice noodles with water and tea mostly.”

As they became friends, they began posting their shenanigans on the UB 2024 Snapchat story, with captions referring to each other as “My Chinese Roommate” or “My Algerian Roommate.” In one early video, the pair joke with each other about their schedules.

“I’m training for the Buffalo marathon, and I wake up sometimes at 3 a.m., 4 a.m. to go for a run,” Bachir said. “And this guy is like, ‘Yo, why are you waking me up?’ And then he started saying, ‘Yo, my Algerian roommate’s crazy. He’s waking up at 4 a.m. to go for a run.’” 

“My old work schedule in the call center was a night schedule. So sometimes I cannot fall asleep until 2 a.m.,” Zhang said. “Then I see this guy was making coffee, and I’m like, ‘Brother, why are you making coffee at 2 a.m.?’” 

The content was a nice change of pace from the typical posts for many UB students.

“It’s wholesome, I love it,” junior mechanical engineering major Max Bukovsky said. “It’s just entertaining too, just seeing how different people live. It’s the best thing you’ve ever seen. Between the f—king ‘Free Palestine,’ and protests, and ‘Hey is this your charger?’ you see, ‘My Algerian roommate is cooking finally.’”

College community Snapchat stories, which are organized by year of graduation, are also visible to students graduating the year after and before.

“They make my day,” junior economics major Yugendran T Kannu Sivakumaran said over Snapchat. “With all the arguments that keep happening on the Snap stories, they are a friendly face that shows the world ain’t so s—t. I really look forward to their snaps every day.” 

Despite frequently loading the Snap story with many minutes of content to tap through, the roommates say the reception is almost all positive.

“People add our Snapchat and say, ‘Yo, continue posting videos,’ and stuff like that. There are some, let’s say 5% or something, that don’t want us to post the videos. But most people say, ‘Just keep going. Don’t care,’” Bachir said. “And one of my friends told me, ‘The way you were posting videos, we felt like we were with you in the trip.’”

They say they are both frequently recognized on campus.

“We play soccer, and every time, people come to me like, ‘Yo, are you the Algerian roommate?’” Bachir said.

“One student told me, ‘Make sure to add me next to your video,’” Zhang said. “I’m like, ‘Oh, how do you know me?’ He’s like, ‘Your stories from ‘24, everybody knows.’ I was shocked. I’m like, ‘Wow, I’m that famous now?’”

Aside from providing entertainment, Zhang and Bachir say their motivation for their videos is to encourage their peers to travel and connect with people.

“For me, it’s more about encouraging people to travel, and travel with their roommates, because I feel like a lot of people never get to know their roommates,” said Bachir. “You never get to know them exactly. Like, travel with them, eat with them, go play sports with them.”

Inspired by travel vlogs, the pair has documented their adventures across New York, Ontario and Puerto Rico. In one travel video, they showed a dramatic moment in the mountains of Puerto Rico.

“We got lost completely on the mountain in the middle of nowhere — no cops, no cars, nothing,” said Bachir. “And this guy was stressing out. I was stressing out inside, but I thought, ‘If I stress out in this moment, neither of us are going to make it.’”

Zhang graduated in 2023 and now lives in Canada after his work visa expired, which momentarily separated the pair before they reunited in Toronto in April.

“That genuinely made my whole day,” senior theater major Quinn Petkus said. “I knew they were gone and were both sad that they had to part ways. It made me feel a lot better.”

In the next year, Zhang plans to show Bachir China, and Bachir plans to show Zhang Algeria and surrounding areas of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.

But the pair’s greatest adventure may come in 2025, when they plan to bicycle from Cape Town, South Africa, all the way to Egypt. Bachir has already begun organizing the months-long trek, outlining which roads to take and how to handle finances.

“I was like, what if you meet the lions and tigers? How are you gonna survive?” Zhang said.

They will continue to document their adventures on their Instagram page, the UB Snapchat story and their forthcoming YouTube channel. Bachir also hopes to develop an app for people to find roommates and friends.

“I’ve been thinking about it for three years or something,” Bachir said. “I need to make this app to build a university community much closer than further away. Meeting friends, meeting travel buddies or roommates, whatever it is.” 

Dominick Matarese is the senior features editor and can be reached at dominick.matarese@ubspectrum.com 


DOMINICK MATARESE
dominick-matarese.jpg

Dominick Matarese is the Senior Features Editor at the Spectrum. He enjoys writing about interesting people, places, and things. In addition to running an independent blog, he has worked worked with the Owego Pennysaver, BROOME Magazine, the Fulcrum Newspaper, and Festisia. He is passionate about music journalism and can be found enjoying live music most weekends. 

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