Whether it’s walking in on your roommate and her boyfriend, or trying to sleep when he plays Warcraft until sunrise, everyone who’s shared their space has a story to tell. But leaving your solo-room at home doesn’t have to mean losing your sanity. With a little communication, respect and friendly understanding, your life with a roommate can be more than bearable – it can be awesome.
Just like in any successful relationship, communication is a key element.
“It’s important to set expectations early in the year so everyone’s clear on what’s OK and what’s not,” said Norse Hall Director Sara Hummel. “Don’t assume your roommate has the same needs as you.”
Laying out the rules between roommates can be stressful in the beginning, but can pay off in the end.
“Most roommate issues come out of a lack of communication,” Hummel said. “Basically roommates making misassumptions.”
And it doesn’t help that many students are new to the space-sharing life.
“A lot of folks come to campus having never lived with a sibling or roommate,” said Peter Trentacoste, interim University Housing director. “When you share a space, there is a lot of compromising that needs to take place and sometimes you have to go out of your way to do that.”
Respect is another a vital facet of roommate life. Learning to respect your roommates, their things and their wishes will keep your dorm aura bright.
“People need to be accepting of others and respectful of their differences,” said residential assistant Dante Seta. “If you’re being disrespected, there’s no way you can live comfortably.”
Trentacoste agrees that respect is essential.
“When you’re forming a relationship, especially between two potential strangers, respect is everything,” he said. “You have to go beyond the golden rule and treat people the way they want to be treated, not the way you do.”
Let’s face it, no one wants to look like a total loser during the first week of roommate life. However, starting your college career pretending to be someone you’re not won’t make for a pleasant year. So, be yourself.
Most people would rather get to know the real you than feel lied to – even if the real you drinks milk in the shower and hits the sack at 8 p.m. You’ll be a happier person if you’re not putting on a face and happy people make for happy roommates.
After you find a comfortable median with your roommate, all that’s left to handle is yourself. The freedom of college life has earned itself a rough reputation with the parents, but it doesn’t have to end in piercings and toga stories.
“You’re not under your parents’ wing anymore,” Seta said. “For some, that freedom is hard to get used to. You’ll make good and bad decisions and some of them could be inopportune for your roommate. Just try to keep them in mind.”
If those decisions cause issues between roomies, the two should go to their residential assistant.
“If there’s an issue (roommates) can’t solve on their own, we’ll mediate a conversation,” Seta said. “But just keeping your morals in chickity-check will make you a better roommate.”
If worst comes to worst and talking with a residential assistant doesn’t fix the problem, the next step is to get in touch with the hall director.
“Nine times out of 10 the roommate issues are solved with a little communication,” Hummel said. “People just need to have realistic expectations, it’s not always like on TV where roommates are best friends for life.”
Hopefully, your roommate will be your BFF. But the situation is unbearable and it can’t be talked out, you can apply for a room change, but not until the fourth week of school.
“We freeze the rooms for three weeks on purpose because college is a growing period and part of that is learning to compromise,” Trentacoste said. “The students can’t just come to us after the first week and say they want to move, they at least have to try to work it out.”