What I Wish I Knew About Having a Roommate

By Chelsea Glosser

Going into college your freshman year can be both exciting and challenging. So can meeting your new roommate for the very first time. I remember being worried about having enough space for her in our tiny dorm room as I unloaded my parent’s van filled with new bedding, posters, notebooks and an unreasonable amount of shoes. There are so many things about having a roommate that no one ever tells you. These tips will help you get through the new experience of sharing a room with a someone you’ve never met.

1. Adjusting to New Habits

If your Resident Advisor doesn’t provide you with a resident agreement on the first day, you should sit down with your new roomie to set some ground rules. It’s important to make sure that you both discuss and accept each other’s habits so that you are aware of what to expect when living with together. Being clear about what you plan on sharing (your dishes and your stereo) and what you don’t want to share (your toothbrush and your favorite sweater) helps to set distinct boundaries for both parties. For a healthy living situation it is best to understand each other’s routines so that is doesn’t become a bigger issue later in the semester.

2. It’s okay if you aren’t best friends.

When I went to college, there were people that had been talking to their new roommate and color coordinating their comforters since March. And then there were people like me. I’ve never shared a room before and barely had anything in common with my assigned roommate. As much as I wish that my roommate and I could spend all night staying up talking and swapping clothes, we did not have that kind of relationship. And that was totally okay! I was motivated to spend more time outside of my tiny room and meet new people around my residence hall and campus. I forced myself to step outside of my comfort zone and get to know new people. Of course, we still had a mutual respect for each other in our shared space, but we didn’t need to hangout all of the time to be good roommates.

3. There will be distractions.

There are many nights when you will be hanging out with friends until 2 a.m. or watching funny cat videos online. No judgement. However, having the freedom to do whatever you please can be distracting from getting work done, getting enough sleep, or making it to class. It is difficult to balance FOMO (fear of missing out) with all the necessary things that you came to college for – your education. The best way to manage a dorm’s distracting environment is to set up guidelines for you and your roommate about the usage of your room. Setting up a specific time for when you both want to go to sleep and times people are allowed over will help with your time management and productivity. Creating a schedule for your room that you are both accountable for will help make balance out work and play.

4. Be Honest and Talk it Out

This is probably the easiest tip, but it can be the hardest to do. I was always afraid of offending someone by speaking up if something bothered me. But I’ve learned that if something bothers you, it is important to talk about it. In the beginning, my roommate always left dirty dishes out and would watch TV all night when I was be trying to sleep. I let these things frustrate me rather than just confronting her. Once I finally talked about the problem, we were able to come to a compromise and things changed for the better. Don’t be afraid to confront a situation if you are uncomfortable or unhappy, it will most likely be something that you two can easily compromise on.

5. Remember, You Both Share the Space!

Be respectful, and remember that you are both living in the same room. This can be from making sure to take the trash out to keeping your bed and desk tidy. It’s important to have open communication about your plans to have friends over or if you’re leaving for the weekend. Whether you are using your room to have a late night study sesh with your math class or inviting a friend to stay with you, just run it by your roommate first. It’s the right thing to do. Simple things like this show that you are conscious about your roommate’s time and space.