Happy November! It’s hard to believe I am about four months into my first year of college! It feels like it has flown by, yet some weeks seem to take forever! Being four months in, I want to address something that most people who are college-age or early 20s experience: roommates and offer some tips on how to survive living with them.
After hearing horror stories about roommates, I will admit, I was definitely a little anxious about how mine would be. I eagerly checked my email over the summer, hoping I would one day get her contact information so I could know who she was before we started living together. However, no news came. I discovered that my email had been compromised. Thankfully, the housing people were kind enough to resend me the email. I finally had her number and email! I both texted and emailed her, but she did not respond. This worried me even more; however, I learned later that she was in France and then England. Once she got back on this side of the Atlantic, we had a much easier time to communicate.
I knew my roommate was moving in the same day I was, but I knew she would be there before me because of scheduled move-in times. I was somewhat unsure what to expect. I definitely was not expecting her to be 5’11”. I’ve mentioned before that I’m 5’3″. That is a drastic difference. Anyway, she and her family were walking out when my family walked in to give me time to unpack and have less people in my room.
Once I got to know some other people on campus, like the girls who share a bathroom with me, and once classes started, my roommate and I stopped being around each other so much. We have very different majors (I’m social studies education and she is musical theater) and, as a result, do not share much of the same friend group. However, this has helped us not to be at each other’s throats. I really do not mind living with her and I’m so grateful to have a good roommate.
That being said, I have watched other people struggle with their roommates and have thus compiled a few tips to help you overcome issues and live together with as few difficulties as possible:
- Communicate!- I literally cannot stress how important this one is! You don’t have to talk to your roommate all the time, and they definitely don’t need to be your best friend (that’s great if they are though). But if something big is happening that is out of the ordinary, make sure they know. For example, I got a text from my roommate when we were on fall break informing me that her boyfriend was potentially coming up to campus that next weekend. She then asked if she could have the room to herself. I was more than happy to make other arrangements, but I was also grateful for the advanced warning.
- Treat each other like adults. -You are both adults. Act like them. If you have an issue, bring it up with them. I like to tell people, “If you have a problem with me, tell me. Chances are, I have no idea I’m doing something to offend you.” If something goes wrong and it’s your fault, own up to it. Don’t be afraid to apologize.
- Take responsibility for your portion of the room.- If it’s yours, you clean it. Don’t expect your roommate to clean the whole room. Pull your own weight. You live together. Do your part in making your side look nice.
- Be considerate.- Don’t snoop through your roommate’s stuff. It’s not yours. They are allowed to hide things from you. It is one thing if you need something you do not have and you know exactly where it is. It is another thing entirely if you go snooping through their clothes or drawers.
- Compromise.- You two are sharing the same small space. You’re not going to be able to live exactly how you were. It can even be small things, like putting on headphones when they walk in to listen to music. Another compromise can be what you both bring to share in the room. My roommate brought a giant fluffy rug and I brought a mini fridge. The rug stretches between both of our beds, so I am obligated to walk on it. While the fridge is on my side of the room, I bought it so we both could use it, and she has a few things in it as well. However, do not compromise so much that you become a doormat. This leads me to my next point:
- Respect each other’s differences.- Your roommate is not going to be exactly like you. That is okay. My roommate likes to try to be in bed early. If I’m still working on something or not ready for bed, I will turn off most of the lights or go somewhere else to work. Another example is that I like to keep the door open. My roommate does not. So when she comes in (usually in a hurry), she closes the door when she is changing or doing something. But when she leaves, she has often taken to opening the door.
- Set some ground rules.- I am so grateful that Ball State does a roommate agreement. However, if your college does not do roommate agreements, I highly recommend you set some guidelines for you and your roommate. It can be things like cleanliness, relationships, or anything else you think is important. You two are living together, after all.
- Make sure your roommate is cool with things you do.- One of the girls next door to me has a guitar. I’ve heard her play it occasionally, but if her roommate was not okay with playing music in the room, I’m sure the first girl would make other arrangements.
- Don’t be afraid to have different activities from your roommate.- You spend every night in the same room. You do NOT have to spend every waking minute together (if you want to though, make sure your roommate is on the same page). It is okay to be different. You are still your own person.
- Don’t be a jerk.- You SHARE a room. It is not just yours. Don’t take up three fourths of the room and expect your roommate to be okay with that. You’re both in the same situation here. If you wouldn’t be okay with what you are doing, there is a high possibility your roommate wouldn’t either.
I know these are pretty general, but they are definitely useful. I cannot stress enough how important it is to act like the adult you are. There still may be some issues, but these will help you have a much smoother roommate experience.
The photo is the eight of us that share the same bathroom. My roommate is the one in front taking the picture.
Left to right:
Top: Mattison, Joanna, Sydney
Middle: Myself, Nicki
Bottom: Taylor, Katie, Kelsey.
Roommates: Joanna and Nicki, Kelsey and myself, Taylor and Katie, Mattison and Sydney