How to live with a roomate

Ashley Hughes

     College is within reach for seniors now, and most have one thing at the top of their minds: “I wonder what my roommate is going to be like.” In some cases, you might be lucky enough to live with someone you went to high school with or a best friend. However, 75 percent of incoming college freshmen live with someone that they don’t already know. Although networking has made it easier to connect with your future roomies, it is hard to know what someone is going to be like until you actually meet them in person and have the opportunity to spend some time with them.

     There are some scary aspects to this scenario. What happens if your roommate is significantly different than you are? What happens if you have different interests, habits and personalities?

     Try to contact your roommate before you actually meet and get to know them. Ask questions about their past, their home life, their friends, family and hobbies. Let them talk! People like to know that someone is interested in them. Decide who is going to bring what for the room and figure out how you want it to be decorated before you move in.

      However, going into the situation with an open mind is more important than throw pillows and room organization. Thinking that you really don’t want to share a room or that you are going to despise living with someone else is just going to make matters worse. Try to think positively, and try to remember that you might grow to like this person. He or she may even end up being your best friend, so have a good attitude. Introducing yourself with “I already claimed the left side of the room, so deal with it and stay out of my half” is ill advised. Even if you don’t end up being super close, you have to live with them for at least the next year, so remain cordial at worst.

      Beyond the initial meeting, try to stay relaxed around your new roommate. Don’t go overboard and try to impress them. Chances are, they are going to figure out pretty quickly what you are really like. If you are not usually a morning person, don’t act falsely sweet the first few mornings. You don’t want them to have a negative shock when you reveal your true morning attitude the following week. You don’t want your roommates to act fake, so you shouldn’t act fake either. Just be yourself, and allow your roommates to do the same. Being judgmental and flat out cruel will just create tension and uneasiness in the dorm.

     Set some ground rules before living together. That way, you know one another’s expectations. It isn’t fair to become angry at someone if they don’t know that certain things bother you. There is a time for company and a time for visitors to leave. There is a time for the television to be on and a time for it to be off. Try to think of as many things that may cause future problems as you can and compromise together.  Letting the problems inflate until they explode will not solve anything. Rather, the instant that you feel uncomfortable with something you should calmly explain to your roommate what you don’t like and how you two can fix it. If you must, write a contract and sign it.

     Scheduling errors may arise very soon in the game so try to include those into your room contract also. Be courteous to others’ sleeping schedules. Some people are early to bed and early to rise, some stay up late and sleep in late, some never sleep and some sleep more than necessary. Also, shower times can be a touchy subject. At home, when you want to shower you probably just jump right in. However, you may be living with three other people who share the same bathroom that all take showers at night. Since everyone does shower, it is crucial to set a schedule.

     Cleanliness is very important to some people, and not always to others. Slobs need to trust the neat freaks’ perspectives on what is and what is not clean but neat freaks should keep their hands off other people’s belongings. Just because the mess is bothering you, doesn’t mean you have the right to move it without asking. As a last resort, divide the room. That way the messier roommate doesn’t have to get yelled at twenty four seven for their stuff being everywhere, and the clean one doesn’t have to have their tidy side invaded.

      You will be experiencing living in very close quarters so sometimes you will want some time alone. Depending on how far away everyone lives from home, try to organize specific weekends where you get the dorm to yourself and your roommate goes home or vice versa. If no one can go home for weekends remember that you don’t live in your dorm all day. You have the option to just sleep there. Get out there and do some laundry, have a weekend job, work out, study or grocery shop.

     In the end, everything boils down to respect. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Respect each other’s privacy, respect each other’s belongings and respect each other. Living together can be like a giant sleepover, all you need is an open mind and a good attitude. Remember your roommates may end up being your lifelong friends.