Sunday, August 10, 2014

College Survival Series: Roommates

The College Survival Series introduces and discusses different aspects of college life, and aims to prepare college students for all situations they might encounter during their college career.


If you are living on campus, you are likely going to be sharing your space with at least one other person. This can be a difficult transition, especially if you're like freshman year, 18 year-old me and you've lived your whole life in your own room. I'll admit, adjusting to having someone in your grill when you just need some alone time can get pretty annoying, but there are also some pretty awesome perks to having a roommate or two as well! Here's a list of pro's and con's to having roommates in college, and some advice on how to make the best out of those not-so-fun con's!

PRO: Automatic friendship! The first few days of college can be a little scary and confusing to navigate - finding out where the dining hall is, trying out new activities, and meeting people in general are all things that you will be faced with soon after moving in. Your roommate is sort of a built-in partner in crime. If you don't want to go to the welcome back barbeque by yourself, your roommate might want to come with you! If you don't know where the building your math class is in, your roommate might know or might be able to help you figure it out. If you're bored in your room at night, you always have your roommate to talk to and hang out with. Even if you don't wind up ~besties~ you still have someone that you'll be sharing the first year of your college life with which is a relationship like none other.

CON: If you don't get along. Chances are that you're going to come from a very different background from your roommate, you might have vastly different interests, and (worst case scenario) you may not get along too well with them. The biggest mistake you can make when living with others is not communicating. You've probably heard that communication is key to any relationship, and it's especially true when you're living with someone. As an RD and even as an RA as an undergraduate, I've dealt with and have had to mediate roommate conflicts on multiple occasions. One of the main underlying themes to each and every conflict is not communicating. The first thing I ask if a student approaches me with a roommate issue is if they have spoken to their roommate about it, and the answer is usually "no". If there is an issue regarding something your roommate is doing, there may be a chance that your roommate might not even know that it's annoying you. Talking to your roommate about what's bothering you may be uncomfortable, but it opens the doors to developing a better and stronger relationship with them, and will make your living situation much more enjoyable. You don't have to be good friends in order to be good roommates!

PRO: Someone to get you out of a jam! I can't tell you how many times I locked myself out of my room in college. It took me a while to get into the habit of carrying my key with me everywhere I went. Having a roommate in this situation is SO clutch! You don't have to worry about bothering the RA or other ResLife staff or get charged a lockout fee - all you have to do is see if your roommate can come back to the room and let you in. Your roommate can also help you out in other ways, like turning off your straightener before it burns the residence hall down if you accidentally leave it on, waking you up during a fire drill if you're a deep sleeper (like me), cleaning up the room real quick if your family decides to drop by for a surprise visit, and even lending a listening ear if you're having a rough day. If you have a solid roomie relationship, it's usually not an issue, especially if you do the same for them!

CON: Little to no privacy. Yes, sharing a room with someone means that you're also kind of sharing your whole life with them. They'll see your dirty laundry, notice your weird sleeping habits, and be able to listen to your phone calls. It's important that you realize that the lack of privacy is something every person in your room is experiencing, not just you. It's not fair for anyone to expect their roommate to leave the room when they're trying to study, for them to be okay with having friends over until 3AM, or for them to keep their side of the room perfectly clean. What is fair is setting up rules of the room that you both (or all, if there's more than two of you), like agreeing to use a lamp instead of the large overhead room light and headphones instead of speakers if you have to pull an all-nighter to finish a project so the other roommate can sleep easier, having a school night curfew for friends to be out of the room, and to keep your mess on your side or area of the room. The sooner that you have an understanding of what each of you needs in your sleeping & study space, the happier you'll be!

The list can be much, much longer than this, so maybe I'll write a part two in the future, but I hope that these few starter tips can help you forge a successful roommate relationship!

Have any tips for living with roommates?
Leave them in the comments below!

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