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Twins deal with separation, new roles with college experience

For many high school graduates going off to college means saying goodbye -- to high school friends, parents and younger siblings who will be left to fend for themselves.

For some, however, going off to college means saying goodbye to a special person -- a best friend and sibling, the one who always shared the glory at their birthday parties, their twin. Whether they find themselves hundreds of miles apart for the first time -- or attending the same university -- college implies the start of a new relationship between twins.


Before going off to college last fall, the longest separation for fraternal twins Morgan and Marissa Coleman was one week. Actually, it may have been more like five days.
However, this September, as Marissa left Buffalo to attend Spelman College in Atlanta and Morgan moved into a dorm at the University at Buffalo, the twins broke their old record.
"I think it's something that was going to happen eventually," said Marissa, of the girls' decision to split up for college. "We're not going to be together our entire lives so I think that it was smart to [split up] now because I think the longer you wait to separate -- the harder it is."
The first few weeks apart were hard for both of them.
"In the beginning of the year I was home every weekend," said Morgan. Marissa added: "[Spelman] had us on lockdown for a good week and a half, we couldn't leave campus -- we couldn't have visitors. We had orientation activities all day long. It was terrible."

On the phone with each other and their parents, the girls made it through and settled down at school.
However, even with new groups of friends, and classes and activities going on, the Colemans find time to talk.
"We probably call each other a good seven times a day and we're I.M.-ing each other. We're on Facebook all the time," said Marissa. And while that may seem like a lot, the girls certainly have a lot to say to each other.
"We'll call each other for little things and then we'll still be online at night talking to each other," said Morgan. They talk about "how much [they] hate [their] classes" and "call each other to just say "I'm bored, what are you doing?" Marissa said.
For sisters who were together for middle and high school at City Honors, the separation is a new phenomenon.
"Not being able to just see her and just be together like we always were-- When [I] go to tell stories -- she wasn't there -- it's just weird," Morgan said.
Marissa felt the same way.
"Just not seeing her [was the biggest change for me]. Like I talk to her all the time, it's just weird. When I went home for the first time I just ran to her and hugged her and it was crazy, I just missed seeing her."



Tess Morrissey knew a bit about her college decision even before she had finished filling out her applications. When her twin brother, John, applied early decision to Geneseo State College, Tess at least knew where she would not be going to college.

"I applied to Geneseo, but I knew I wasn't going to go there and I didn't want to go there, pretty much just because he was going there. I wanted to do my own thing and I couldn't do that with [John] around," said Tess, who attends the College of Wooster in Ohio.

The Morrisseys, who graduated from City Honors in 2006, had more preparation for their separation.
"I wasn't around home a lot this summer so I didn't exactly see [Tess] and she was in Paris for three weeks," said John.

"We would talk on instant messaging at home, like I was in my room and he was in his room (in Buffalo) so I was always joking [that] we [we]re practicing for college. So it was weird [in college] at first but obviously there was so much going on that I didn't miss him that much," said Tess of her first few weeks away at school.
However, even though she didn't miss John that much, Tess did notice some differences in her first few weeks at school.

"I'm not 'John's twin sister' anymore. We went to the same school (in high school and middle school) and that was part of who I was. Now it's different because people obviously don't know him here and people don't automatically know I'm a twin," said Tess, adding that she doesn't mind the difference and, in fact, is learning a lot on her own.
"Going to college by myself really showed me that I was capable of being independent. I could make my own friends. I didn't have to use John as a backup or a crutch -- it has helped me grow as a person. It's different, but it's fine like that," she said.



Allan and Andrew Izzo are identical twins. They attended the same schools for their entire lives and when it came time to choose a college, they each followed their own path -- and ended up at the same place -- Princeton University.

"This was the first college that we really visited and I can't exactly put my finger on it, but sometimes when you walk onto a college campus, you get a grin on your face and you just know it's the right kind of place," said Andrew of his decision to apply early decision to Princeton.

Allan, on the other hand, ended up applying regular decision to a variety of colleges.
"I always thought [Princeton] was the last place where I would end up, but when they send you a letter that says you got in, you might as well go," said Allan.
So the brothers wound up attending the same college by chance. Also by chance, they ended up in dormitories on opposite ends of the residential part of campus. They see each other occasionally and mostly accidentally; however, their relationship has changed little since their graduation from City Honors.

"We're not going out of our way to see each other or not see each other, like when it happens it happens, when it doesn't it doesn't," Allan said, adding, "It's kind of weird because we went from living under the same roof to being in the same area but not exactly living with each other. I mean it's obviously different because we don't interact as much, but the types of interactions that we do have haven't changed at all."
"It's kind of nice to know that -- as soon as you get there, you know someone... So you have a sort of comfort knowing that you can, in a certain sense, rely on him," Andrew said of the twins' relationship in college.
Even though they attend the same college, the Izzos have become more independent of each other since starting at Princeton.

"I think we like each other a little more, just because neither of us are in each other's face all the time," said Andrew.

They even help each other make friends. Andrew noted that he has become good friends with Allan's roommate and that it helps having someone he knew around because he was able to meet more people than he might on his own.

Allan had almost the same view on having his brother around campus.

"It is nice knowing that there is someone here who has got your back for you no matter what," he said.

Maria Forti is a sophomore at McGill in Montreal.

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