It’s that time of year—where college seniors are receiving acceptance letters and making decisions on where they’re going to be spending the next four years of their life. They’re joining groups named “‘(insert college/university name here) Class of 2019” on Facebook and talking to their future peers. Part of that interaction involves attempting to find someone that they will be spending at least the first semester of their college career with, if not more. That’s right: they’re searching for roommates.
I didn’t take finding a roommate seriously. I thought, “whatever, I’m sure I can deal with someone as long as they’re not totally insane. After all, I’m not going to be spending much time in my room anyway.” But think about it like this: dorm rooms are small. Maybe even smaller than your room at home, and you’re going to be spending at least six hours a day in there, if not more, with another person— very likely a complete stranger. They will be there when you’re sleeping, when you’re getting ready for class or work, when you’re eating, and when you’re doing homework. You might meet your roommate and immediately become best friends. Or, you might be apathetic toward each other. One of you might be annoyingly clingy. One of you might be a huge partier. Either way, you’re going to be a pretty big part of each other’s lives, for better or for worse.
I don’t want to scare you. But, with writing this, I want you to understand that you should take choosing a roommate, and choosing where you are going to be living, sort of seriously. For example, I put down as my first choice the newest, nicest dorm on campus available to freshmen, when I really should’ve asked for a single room. But I wanted to be in the best place possible, even if it meant sacrificing some of my privacy and comfort to deal with a roommate. And, I went with a random roommate, while a lot of people I knew screened people online through Facebook or roomed with a friend. I thought it would be fine. It turned out, it wasn’t fine, but my situation was one of those ones where you hear about something similar and say, “that’ll never happen to me”, and then it does. The main point I’m trying to get across is, if you find someone you think you’ll get along well with, then try to room with them. I know a lot of schools have you fill out a survey before they place you with someone. Here’s a tip: DON’T LIE. It’s better to tell the truth and be placed with someone whose habits are similar to yours, then say on the survey that you’re an early riser because you think you’re going to change your habits, when in actuality you stay up until 2am scrolling through Tumblr.
After you are actually set up with someone, whether they’re random or someone you know, then you actually have to deal with them. The key word in dealing with someone else is respect. They ask you to turn down your music? Don’t grumble about it – just do it. Then, if you need to ask them to stop making so much noise in the morning, they’ll be more likely to listen to you if you already did something for them. Ask before you touch their stuff. Don’t keep illegal contraband in your room unless they’re okay with it too. Voice how you’re feeling instead of being passive aggressive. Keep your stuff clean.
If you’re having issues, try to talk to them before going to your RA. I know confrontation is difficult—trust me on this, I KNOW—but you have to do it. They may feel betrayed if you immediately go over their head, unless it’s something super serious that you feel like they won’t respond to. But if matters escalate, then definitely get your RA or RD involved. You deserve to feel safe in your living space. But, I would caution you against complaining to your floormates about your roommate. Complaining to friends is okay if you go to a large university and there’s only a small chance of them running into each other. But talking behind your roommate’s back to people she or he may see everyday isn’t a good idea. You never know what’s going to get back to her.
Living with someone in a tiny space is hard but it’s a good learning experience. Enjoy dorm life. It’s different than probably any other experience you’ll have in your life.
Source for featured image:
Trudon, Taylor. “How To Reach Out to Your Future Roommate.” The Huffington Post. HuffingtonPost.com, 1 Apr. 2014. Web. 04 Jan. 2015.