You’ve been preparing for months (maybe even years), taking tests, writing essays, filling out applications, dorm shopping, and now the big day is finally here: you’re going to college! If not that, then maybe now you’ve decided it’s time to leave the nest and find a place of your own. Either way, chances are that your first independent living situation will involve a roommate; someone that can both add bliss or stress to your newly found independence.
Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to maintain harmony with your roomie and ensure a smooth transition into your new crib!
- Reach Out Before You Meet:
If your first roommate experience is through college, chances are that you will be provided with the name and email address of your new roommate before you ever even step on to campus. Utilize this information! You don’t want your first meeting with the new roomie to be something like an awkward first date. Shoot them an email, let them know who you are or what you’re into, and take the uncomfortable edge off your first meeting. If you’re someone that’s found a roommate outside of school, this advice is crucial for you as well!
- Create Boundaries In Your Shared Space:
As convenient as it is financially, sharing a room will place major limits on the amount of privacy and space you have available to just yourself. In such cases, it’s important to set boundaries with your roommate ahead of time. You can create a “green light/ red light” system for your door by hanging a placard from your doorknob; when turned to red, it’ll let your roommate know that you need a few minutes of alone time. Another option is to place a thin screen next to your bed, (or if your dorm allows it), tack a tapestry to the ceiling to hide your bed from the rest of the room when needed. If creating physical barriers in the room isn’t an option, simply communicating clearly with your roomie about what is or isn’t “common space” is an effective method of maintaining harmony. No matter how you do it, just figure out the best way to create personal space in your dorm. Remember that even the closest roommates need alone time now and again.
- Establish Rules With Your Roommate:
Nobody wants a roommate with a long list of rules and guidelines who single handedly governs what can and cannot be done in your room. “No clothes on the chair, no snacks in the room, and absolutely no music playing out loud!” Doesn’t sound pleasant, does it? Therefore it’s important to work with your future roommate ahead of time to develop guidelines you both will follow and abide by. Does your roommate hate having tons of guests? Try to hang out in another friend’s dorm or in your school’s Student Union Building. You can’t stand bright lights late at night? Let her know that’s the case and suggest she borrow your book light when she’s doing some last minute cramming. Compromising and establishing rules will allow you both to be happy in your new “home away from home.”
- Find Your Roommate Survival Tools:
Maybe you lucked out and got the most awesome roommate ever, or maybe you didn’t. In either case, it can’t hurt to prep for the worst and invest in some essential “roommate survival tools” for times you can’t stand your roomie a second longer. Get yourself some cheap and comfortable ear plugs to block out their voice, and sleeping masks to help you sleep peacefully. These items can be found almost anywhere; including dollar stores! They are simple things that can make a huge difference in ensuring you have a positive roommate experience throughout college.
- Make More Friends:
Being best buds with your roommate is great; you can eat together, study together, and fall asleep chatting every night. However, having friends and connections besides your
roommate is important as well. In college, there are tons of ways to make new friends; you can join a club on campus, volunteer in your new city, spend time with co-workers outside of work or create a study group for a class. Every relationship requires space to maintain itself and the bond you have with your roommate is no different. When you don’t have the option of having space in your room, create it in your social life. You will be glad you branched out!
- Don’t Forget Your RA :
If you’re living in college dorms, you may have heard horror stories about RA’s (those glorified-hall-monitors who deal out punishments and shut down every fun dorm room party). In reality however, your RA is of phenomenal service to you so don’t forget that they are there to help! An RA (aka resident advisor) is usually an upperclassman who works for the college and to maintain peace and comfort for all residents in the dorm they manage. If you feel like you can’t deal with your roommate personally or your efforts to communicate with your roomie have been ineffective in solving a problem, ask your RA for guidance and interference. They’ve been through dorm living themselves and have training in how to handle tough roommate situations. If needed, they can also be of great help in getting you a new room assignment.
We know that moving in with a roommate can be stressful, scary, and a little intimidating but the most important thing to remember is that in most cases, communication and a little effort to compromise will go a long way. If you practice these tips, you might not only survive your first roommate experience, but also walk way with a new lifelong friend!