Living with a Roommate
Moving out on your own can be tough, especially if you've never lived away from home before. Living with anybody — especially someone that you don't know — requires compromise, patience, respect and communication.
Chances are, your roommate will be very different than you. It takes time to get to know the other person's habits, schedules, likes, and dislikes. Here is some food for thought with respect to roommates:
- You may not choose your roommate. Most students entering their first year of college will be placed with a roommate. Some schools let you choose your roommate while other schools randomly select them for you.
- Do your research. If you do get to choose, try to find out as much as you can about the other person's habits before you decide to be their roommate! This can prevent many of the issues you could possibly come across.
- Talk to your roommates. Talk about when they like to go to sleep, when they like to get up, and figure out how to be respectful of the other person's sleep schedule. Sleep is incredibly important, especially in college when you will have many late nights studying or hanging out with friends, and it will be easiest for both of you if you are not constantly disturbing the other person's sleep schedule.
- Take turns cleaning shared spaces. If you are sharing a space, such as a bathroom or kitchen, figure out early on who is going to do what. You may want to make a chart that describes who will do what each week. For example, one person may be assigned to take out the trash while the other cleans the bathroom, and then you will switch the next week. This is especially hard if one person is neater than the other, but it's important to establish ground rules for sharing spaces early on so that there isn't growing resentment.
- Inviting friends over: This can be a tricky issue. When you are sharing a room with someone else, it becomes a home base to both of you. Sometimes one person likes to have the space more to themselves while the other person likes to have friends over and make it more of a social area. Make sure you talk to your roommate about their expectations. It can be frustrating if they are always bringing people over to your room when you want peace and quiet, and might be frustrating to them if you are bringing friends over unannounced.
- Talk about who buys what. Decide upfront who will pay for what, especially if you are planning on keeping the furniture or accessories. Maybe you will decide to split the cost completely down the middle or maybe you will decide that you will buy certain things that you plan on bringing with you to your next home.
- Compromise: There will be things you and your roommate don't agree on, and that's okay. While you can't have everything, make sure that you are both getting some of the things you want out of your living situation. Communication is the most important part of living with someone else. Make sure you tell them when things are bothering you, and be willing to listen if something about your habits are bothering your roommate and figure out a way that you can both be happy.
While there are many things you can do to avoid potential conflict with roommates, you might run into a problem where you need outside help. Most colleges have many resources available to students when it comes to housing and living situations.
Residential life offices exist on many campuses – these are the people who place you in your dorms, issue you keys at the beginning of the year, and help deal with logistical problems. They are there to help you, so don't hesitate to ask them for information.
Most colleges also have Residential Advisors/Assistants (RAs). RAs often live in the dorms with the students and are available to help sort out any problems relating to roommates, being homesick, feeling overwhelmed, and just being a friendly person to confide in. RA responsibilities do differ from college to college, so find out what kind of availability they have in advance.
Having a roommate can be tough but it doesn't have to be! Make the most of living with someone new – your roommate could become your new best friend!
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