If you’ve never lived with a roommate (or even if you have!) the concept of living with a complete stranger can seem daunting. However there are several things that you can do before and after moving in to ensure you get along with your roommate.
Looking up new roommates on social media can be complicated. On one hand it may provide evidence of common interests, which could spark a wonderful friendship. However, if you don’t immediately see common interests in a roommate don’t be too quick to judge them based on what you see online. It might add a nice personal touch if you call them to arrange who is bringing what for the room, rather than relying entirely on electronic communication, which, though convenient, can be impersonal.
In your first interactions with your roommate, be open and friendly. Remember that your roommate may be just as nervous as you are about starting college and living with someone else. When you finally get unpacked (and get your decorations up, of course), you’ll have a chance to ask questions that will help you get to know your roommate. Ask about favorite places, hobbies, nicknames, favorite foods, TV shows, academic interests, etc. As time goes on, try to develop fun roommate rituals that allow you to connect and spend time together.
Let’s hope that by now you’re getting along really well with your new roommate. If so, that’s great! But a word of caution: beware of overcrowding. If you get along well with your roommate it can be easy to want to do everything together, but eating, living, and socializing together nearly 24/7 can make some people uneasy, even if they had a strong bond with you in the first place. To counteract that, make sure you spend time with other friends that you make through clubs or activities. And while an empty dining hall table may be daunting, try to eat some of your meals alone (to allow others the chance to approach you without feeling like they’re interrupting you and your roommate), or with other friends.
While everyone would love to become best friends with their roommate, the reality is that it doesn’t have to happen that way. In fact, in most cases it doesn’t. All you need is someone that you can be pleasant with and live with. Which brings me to my next point . . .
One of the most important things you can do to make your roommate experience easier is to communicate with one another about living expectations from the very beginning. There are a lot of different issues that may arise in a typical living situation, so here are a few things you may want to talk about. You may, of course, also feel free to add your own topics based on your personal habits and preferences.
With any luck, these tips and the relationship you’ve developed with your roommate will help you avoid any major conflicts. But in the event that a conflict does arise, there are certain things that you can do to resolve it as soon as possible.
Although your first instinct may be to complain about your roommate, don’t do so to anyone who might be a mutual friend. As David Tuttle, the Vice President of Student Affairs at Trinity College put it, “the first one to know about a roommate conflict should be the roommate.” If word gets back to your roomie, the rumors will just make the task of resolving the conflict worse. If you have a grievance with your roommate, try to speak up about it ASAP. Letting multiple problems and resentment build up will only make the problem more difficult to sort through in the end.
Finally, in bringing conflicts up to your roommate frame them as problem behaviors and not a problematic character trait. “You are waking me up when you come home from practice” is a lot more constructive and easier to fix than “You’re too loud and I can’t handle it!”
Hopefully, if you encounter any bumps in your roommate relationship these tips will help you to get back on track quickly.