For most of us, going off to college and living in a dorm room is the first time living with a roommate (at least one that isn’t a sibling). It’s a huge adjustment! It was an even bigger adjustment for me because I don’t have a sister, so I wasn’t used to living with another female (besides my mom). All in all, I loved living in a dorm. I loved bonding with a roommate and having another freshman there who was also brand new to college and nervous. I loved it even more my sophomore year when I chose my roommate and became really good friends. However, it definitely wasn’t a jolly good time 24/7. There was tension over cleaning, food, personal space, boyfriends spending the night, etc. And it wasn’t like living with my brother, where I felt comfortable straight up telling him when I thought he was driving me crazy.
I’m glad I had a phase of my life where I lived with roommates. I’m glad I lived in a dorm and was forced to live with someone who started off as a complete stranger. I think it’s good I went through that (though now I’m super happy to not be in that phase anymore).
Today I want to speak to those of you moving in with roommates, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. It can be difficult, but there are ways to ease the tension and anxiety!
Connect with your roommate before you move into the dorm
Not only will this give you the chance to coordinate things, but it will make it a little less awkward when you meet for the first time. This is a great time to figure out who is bringing what. We didn’t need to two TVs in our room, so we figured out who would bring one. We discussed whether we would loft our beds and whether or not we should get a futon. In addition, we also tried to get to know each other a little. We talked about what we hoped to major in, what hobbies we had, etc. With social media, it probably won’t be difficult to get a hold of your new roomie. You can probably find them on Facebook. If not, the school will probably provide you with some contact information.
Make a roommate contract
Lots of schools and RAs require this when living with a roommate, so you might not have a choice. A roommate contract is a great way to clear the air from Day 1 so there aren’t as many surprises and so you have a written contract to refer to when your roommate does something that’s not okay. You can outline quiet hours (what time you like to study, when you go to bed, etc), when it’s okay to have friends over, whether overnight guests are okay, whether you’re okay with your roommate eating your food, etc. Even if your personalities mesh well and you don’t think there will be any problems, better to be prepared for the worst.
Be respectful of your roommate’s schedule
It won’t take long to learn each other’s class schedules, sleep schedules, study schedules, etc. Even if hers is different from yours, be respectful of it and try to work around it. If she has classes first thing in the morning and goes to bed early, try to turn the TV off when she goes to bed or use headphones. Don’t invite friends over during a time you know your roommate likes to study. If she works late and therefore, sleeps late, don’t hit the snooze button 10 times.
Clean up after yourself
This one seems like it should be obvious, but it definitely isn’t. At the very least, keep your stuff on your side of the room. Don’t leave clothes all over the floor. Don’t let dirty dishes sit out. You know the drill.
Be honest with your roomie
If something she does bothers you, it’s probably best to say something. Keeping it to yourself won’t make it annoy you any less. And you’ll start to resent your roommate for regularly doing something that bothers you, even though she doesn’t know it bothers you. Chances are if you tell her what’s up, she’ll be happy to change your habits to keep the peace.
You don’t have to be best friends with your roommates
In fact, you don’t have to be friends at all. You just have to be civil to one another and respect one another. Don’t force a friendship that isn’t going to happen.
What tips would you share for someone living with a roommate for the first time?
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