Roommate revelations

Getting to know your roommate is essential to living together

Photo Courtesy of MCT CampusThe apprehension students experience about having a roommate in college can be alleviated if you establish ground rules and get to know one another early.

Living with another person you’ve only recently met in a small room that can sometimes feel like a jail cell is not always an easy feat to overcome. There are some things you can do to make the experience go a little more smoothly.

When you first move in to your room, you should avoid claiming a bed or rearranging the furniture until your roommate gets there. It’s important that you show you’re open to doing things fairly. Discussing preferences and negotiating will show you are a caring person.

Sharing a bathroom with not only your roommate, but also two other suitemates is a challenge as well. You should all sit down and work out when you need the bathroom by coordinating schedules. Establish rules for privacy and consequences for using each other’s personal property without permission.

Rules for personal property should also be thoroughly established with your roommate. Let them know if you mind that they take your food or borrow your clothes. If someone has supplied a microwave, television, or some other appliance each person should take care of it and it should be understood it will be shared.

Having a talk about cleanliness will be important. Everyone has their own idea of what clean means and bare minimum rules should be established. If messiness suits you, but your roommate is very neat, respect that and try not to leave things laying around. Each person may need to change, but compromise is important.

Quite time is essential during college for studying, homework, and relaxation and you may want to establish set time periods for it. Discussing when and if you need time without loud music, TV, or guests allows each person the space they need. Respect that it’s not just your room and that you can socialize somewhere else.

Talk about overnight guests. Should they be allowed? Does anyone care how long they stay? Does it matter if it’s a significant other? Do you need to get permission every time before they come? These are all questions that will help you not step on each others toes.

Drinking and smoking is not allowed in the dorms, but it does happen. If you are against this happening anywhere near you then make it know. State that you’re not comfortable with it and you don’t feel the dorm is an appropriate place for it to happen. Discuss how you feel about a roommate coming in at all hours of the night and if you’re comfortable with them being intoxicated around you.

One of the biggest disagreements you can have can be about personal space and how it looks. Try not to let either person dominate the space with their things or decorating style. It may also be a good idea to discuss things that have to do with political expression and if they are offensive.

Try not to take differences personally. This is college and you are going to meet people of different races, religions, and political affiliations. Try to be open-minded about the differences you have with your roommate and everyone else. This will help minimize conflict.

Respect each other’s privacy. Don’t go through each others things or share information that isn’t yours to spread. Gossiping about your roommate can create a tense situation.

Disagreements are bound to happen even if you take preventative measures. Make an agreement not to scream and yell or call each other names. This is toxic arguing and will make matters worse. Not losing your head will be important in dissolving an argument quickly.

Remember that you have the potential to build a long-lasting relationship with this person. If you try to establish mutual respect for one another early, sharing a room may not be as bad as you think. n