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Twice as nice, twins spend time together

Students walking around campus might encounter two first-year girls who look shockingly similar. Even though their hairstyles are different, people often do a double take when they meet Heather and Carly Arison '12 - twin sisters from Ohio who arrived on College Hill last fall.

People "either freak out, or they don't realize we're twins," Heather said.

Having a twin sibling at the same school has its benefits, said Alicia Hartley '10.

"It was like having a built-in friend," said Alicia, whose twin sister Alex is also her teammate on the women's rugby squad and a fellow residential community assistant. "We didn't have the same nervousness when we first arrived here," Alex said.

Ross Marino '12 emphasized the importance of simply having someone who already knew him well. "Right off the bat, I had a friend, someone I knew," he said.

Ross and his brother Alexander both participate in Tae Kwon Do and take two classes together, in economics and contemporary art. Ross said he also finds it helpful to have a study partner.

But how did two siblings get into a school whose acceptance rate hit a low of 13.3 percent last year?

"We don't have a policy about twins, but in most cases we admit or deny them admission together," wrote Dean of Admission James Miller '73 in an e-mail to The Herald. It's "not because we don't want to separate them in our decision process, but in most cases, their credentials are strikingly similar - even in applications from fraternal twins."

Alex said she was specifically interested in Brown's Egyptology program, and both she and her sister independently decided they wanted to attend Brown.

From the start, Carly and Heather aimed to find a place together at Brown as members of the golf team.

"From the beginning, we were hoping to be recruited together," Heather said.

But not all of Brown's twins intended to attend college together.

Juan Vasconez '10 and his twin Jose said they would have attended Brown even if the other had not been accepted. "We're pretty independent," Juan said.

But for twins, being accepted together is no guarantee that they will stay as close - in where they live, that is.

While first-year housing is assigned based on a brief questionnaire about living preferences and habits, sibling requests are taken into consideration, wrote Associate Director of Residential Life Natalie Basil in an e-mail to The Herald.

"If siblings are in attendance, whether twinned or not, we would take into consideration their appeal to be roommates - as it can be a disadvantageous policy financially for families who may need to rent two microfridges or purchase two sets of other room amenities," Basil wrote.

Alex and Alicia roomed in close proximity - at their mother's insistence, they were neighbors in the all-girls hallway in West Andrews Hall during their first year. Later, they both became CAs, but on different sides of campus.

Heather lives in Hope College, while Carly lives in Keeney Quadrangle. Though the distance has been helpful in maintaining a sense of independence, they both said having to split up their shared wardrobe was a hassle.

"Sometimes we'll see each other walking towards one another dressed alike," Carly said.

Next year, the Arison twins will find it easier to swap their shoes and sweaters ­- they are entering the housing lottery together, though they plan to live in separate rooms.

But while some twins take advantage of having an automatic friend during the transition to college, many expressed mixed feelings about having their double on campus.

"I don't see being a twin as a novelty," Juan said. "Getting confused stopped being funny a long time ago."

He added that it can be frustrating when people refuse to treat each twin as an individual and instead think of them as a unit.

"They don't see us as individual people," he said. "Sometimes, they ask us stupid questions like, 'Can you tell what your twin is thinking?'"

Sometimes, the confusion is literal.

"People thought there was one of us for a while," Alicia said. "We had to break it to them that there were two red-headed twins."

While the experience of having someone who looks nearly identical to you can bring its troubles, most say they enjoy maintaining a close relationship with their sibling.

"We'll make sure to get together and go out and eat," Alicia said. The sisters recently realized they both wanted to attend graduate school for higher education administration. While they aren't sure if they will go to the same graduate school, they know they want to stay close.

"If there are extended periods of time when we don't see each other, we'll chill," Juan said, "but our conversations really center around the day-to-day." Coming to college has ultimately made each twin more individualistic and has highlighted their distinct interests, he added. Jose is considering a future career on Wall Street, but Juan said his own path is still uncertain.

Looking to the future, most twins are uncertain what life after Brown will hold for them.

But being a twin is a lifelong bond, Carly said. "We'll always be tight."


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