This is my senior year of college, and I have had four different roommates at college. I enjoyed living with them though they were all very different, and I’m happy to say that I am still friends with all of them. Along the way, I learned some ways to happily live with a roommate.
1. Talk to them before you live with them. Talking to your roommate through email, text, call, Facebook, or Skype is a good way to learn about them before you live with them. With most everyone, there is common ground somewhere. Finding those things that you have in common with your roommate can help you to feel better about sharing a room with that person. It could be big things in common like you both play the same sport or you are the same major, or it could be small things in common like watching the same TV show, sharing a love of a certain band, or reading the same kinds of books. You won’t know unless you talk to your roommate! When I first learned who my roommate was, I chatted with her on Facebook, and we learned that we are both huge Harry Potter fans. It helped for us not to have that awkward silence when we got to meet each other in person.
2. Figure out who is bringing what. This is also a part of talking to them before you meet them. In the dorm rooms, you probably will only need one small fridge, one microwave, one television, and one rug. Comparing stuff with your roommate before you both move in will help to prevent that moment when you have two of everything and nowhere to put things.
3. Have times when you hang out with your roommate. In freshmen year, I was a fairly solitary person who mostly studied in the library or hung out in my friend’s room in Grier Hall, so I did not spend much time with my roommate. I feel like my roommate and I would have gotten along better if I had spent more time with her. My current roommate and I have Disney nights sometimes where we watch Disney movies and do homework. It’s really great to just chill out with my roommate and know that if I need someone to talk to, she’s there. It doesn’t have to be Disney movies that you and your roommate bond over. It could be a game of Frisbee or sand volleyball. You could get bagels together at Einstein Bagels, or you could play video games together. Having that shared activity that you both enjoy will make living together a better experience.
4. Give yourself alone time when you need it. Sometimes people need time to themselves to think. Going on a walk can be a great way to have alone time and get exercise. I like to walk to one of the parks in town when I need some “me” time. If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, getting out and moving can help to improve your mood.
5. Talk to your roommate if you have a problem. Many people who come to college have never shared a room with someone else, so there are bound to be some changes in people’s routines. If something is bothering you, talk to your roommate about it. Chances are they will be understanding if you phrase it in a respectful way. My freshman roommate and I had those discussions several times during the year. She asked me if I could keep the area around my bed neater, and I asked her if she could have her small lamp on for late night homework instead of the big overhead lamp. We worked out both of those issues because we were honest with each other and listened to the other person.
6. Be patient and give it time. Every relationship needs time to develop. If things are awkward around your roommate at first, don’t worry about it! Usually, when I feel like I am not as close as I would like to be to a potential friend or roommate, I try to bond over a movie or a game that gets us talking without making us come up with topics off the top of our heads. Also, if you’re both busy and need to study, you could go to the library together and study. Studying together can be a way to get to know someone with less stress. You might end up giving it time and seeing that your roommate is not a good fit for you or you might grow to be really great friends with your roommate, but giving it time is essential part of knowing if it will work.
7. Be respectful of sleeping times. Getting enough sleep is an important part of college. It can be hard to do this if you and your roommate are on different schedules. If your roommate is sleeping or napping, be respectful of this and try to be quiet if you are in the room. Also, having a sleep blindfold for the dorm can be a good idea in case your roommate is in the room with the lights on and you want to sleep.
8. Talk to your RA if you and your roommate are having issues. If you have a problem with your roommate and you have already tried talking to your roommate about the issue, then, you can ask your RA for help. Your RA can help to moderate an argument if needed. Your dorm should somewhere that feels like home where you are safe and happy, and the dorm staff is there to help settle disagreements or brainstorm compromises to issues.