In about a month you, a college freshman, will be leaving home and moving to college and living in the dorm. Dorm life can be the best experience of you college career or it can be a nightmare. Whether you live 5 minutes or 5 hours from home there is one thing you will be sharing with every other freshman on campus…duh duh duuuh: A roommate.
Now some of you may share a room with your siblings but others, like me, have never had to share a space let alone a 9-by-5 cell…oh I mean room with a stranger. Most of you have heard roommate horror stories that have left you extremely nervous about August. But I have a few tips to hopefully create long-lasting roomie love.
Tip 1: Communication-Like a good relationship communication is key; the same with having a roommate. I highly recommend that you talk to your roommate now. Yes I mean right now. Before you are thrown into the same room together and start class. After class starts chaos occurs and you may never get the chance to talk to your roommate unless you are waking her/him when you get back from a late night at the library.
Here is a list of what items you should discuss before you move-in (can’t you see I like lists 🙂 )
1. What are you going to bring?-Who is bring the t.v., refrigerator, xbox, movies, etc. Talk about who is bringing the large stuff that will take up space.
2. How clean a person are you?-You are definitely going to want to discuss if your method of hanging up clothes is just laying them on the floor so you can see every piece of your wardrobe at one time. Talk about when and how often you are going to clean your room. Are you going to clean together or just your space?
3. Morning Bird vs. Night owl– This is an epic battle that only the strong will win. This is a discussion that will save you a major headache. Make room rules about when lights go out, when they can be turned on, when you can play music, when is nap time (trust me this will happen). Basically be courteous to your roommate. If he or she is sleeping be as quiet as possible.
4. Food/Clothes use-Money can be a very touchy subject with some people and food can be even more of a touchy subject. Discuss if you are going to be sharing or not sharing food. Talk about whether you are going to share clothes and this does include underwear (trust me this does happen). Are you going to have an “ask before use policy”? How are you going to ask permission? In person? Text? Before? After the fact?
5. Boyfriend/Girlfriend/Guest-Tell you roommate if you have a gf, bf, or if you are super social. Set times and days when guests can come over. Tell your roommate when you would like some alone time with your guest and please never ever be have “alone time” with your gf/bf when your roommate is in the room. Three is a crowd. Remember that your room is also your roommate’s room and they have a right to be there. So if your roommate has a problem with your guests. Meet your guests elsewhere to hang out.
6. Leaving notes-Leaving a note for your roommate can be a good or a very bad idea. If the note is about when you’re coming back to the room or when is dinner that’s okay. But if the note is about an issue you have with your roommate please talk to your roommate in person not through a piece of paper.
Since you have discussed all of these points before moving in you now have an expectation for your room and living together.
Tip 2: The honeymoon period will end- The first few weeks of class is a great time. You love your roommate and you love living together. Then the time the first exam rolls around and you are ready to tear each other’s hair out. The hair-tearing-out time is a good time to sit down a make a roommate contract. You can do this on your own or with your RA *wink* if you need a mediator. Put in the roommate contract all the answers to my communication tips.
Tip 3: Gossip- Never talk about your roommate behind his or her back. Do not complain to other people on your floor or your friends (you most likely share friends). Your roommate will hear about it because people love gossip. If you have to complain to someone talk to your very very close friends, parents, siblings, or even your RA *wink*. Your RA is living on the floor with you for a reason. Use them for advice on how to deal with or talk to your roommate.
Tip 4: CLEAN- Please please clean your room. Do your laundry, take your trash out, use a well placed air freshener is an excellent idea. Your roommate will thank you. Your floor-mates will thank you. Your RA will thank you. Your stank will travel though walls and closed doors. It is a mysterious phenomenon.
Living with someone, especially a stranger can be a very stressful time. Talk to each other and don’t let problems build up. You are adults now discuss your feelings. Living with someone can also be extremely fun and I have seen tons of freshman roommate go on to be best friends and even live together their sophomore year.
If any other RAs out there have any more tips on dealing with roommate please comment below. I am also asking anyone who has ever lived with someone to comment and share your story. Share how you dealt with the situation and if you could go back and change the situation what would you do different?