Going off to college means that you will be experiencing a lot of “firsts.” A major first is that college will be the first time you are living away from home. Unless you are going to continue living at home and commute to school, or unless you decide to live alone off campus, it will be the first time you have roommates.
Living with another person your age is completely different than living under the same roof as your parents and siblings. Most of the time, your roommate will be a complete stranger, unless you decide to live with someone you already know. It can be a little bit of a challenge trying to adjust to living with someone else, especially if you don’t know them ahead of time. Setting up standards and agreements from the beginning is something that should be done in order to prevent any disputes in the future. Before I get into some tips to help you get used to having roommates, I’ll share a little bit of my experience.
When I transferred into my school my sophomore year, I was put into the transfers building. Everyone in the building was a transfer student, and I was really excited because I thought that meant I’d be able to make friends quicker and easier. I was wrong. My dorm was a suite style, so I had my own room, another girl had her own room, and two girls shared a room. We all shared one bathroom, and then we shared a kitchen (that didn’t even have a kitchen sink) and a small living area. We all knew each other’s names before we moved in, but we all didn’t communicate until move in day.
To make a long story short, that experience as awful. Me and the other girl that had her own room were cordial. We talked to each other frequently and did a few things together. We still have each other on social media to this day. The two girls that shared a room on the other hand…they butt heads like no one’s business. It resulted in one of the girls moving out after two weeks. We called that room the cursed room because so many people moved in and out of that room throughout the quarter. I could go into so much detail about that experience, that I will probably do a whole video on it. Ultimately, the girl that I got along with ended up moving out, and then I ended up moving out halfway through the year.
My second and final roommate experience came during my junior year. I moved into an apartment style complex that was off campus but was solely for students. It was about a 5 minute walk down the street from campus, and there were school buildings next door, so we weren’t super removed from school, but removed enough. I liked this better because it was an actual apartment. We had a full kitchen, full living room, and we each had our own room and bathroom. Perfect for me because I don’t like sharing bathrooms.
I had gotten the name of my roommate about two months before I moved in, so I messaged her to informally introduce myself. It took her about two weeks to respond, and when she did finally respond she was totally uninterested. I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt and ask her how she liked living there (she lived there during the summer), just to make conversation. She didn’t respond. So going into it, I already had my guard up and knew we probably wouldn’t get along. Since I moved in on a weekend, she wasn’t there, which was nice because I could get settled without having someone else there. When she did come back, she was friendly but still super uninterested. From that point on it just got more and more awkward. We would pass each other in the common areas and not speak to each other. I would hardly ever see her. She had a boyfriend that basically lived there, and to this day I have no idea what his name is.
So the whole situation was just odd. It was so odd that when I left for winter break in November of that year, I never saw her again. I saw her boyfriend two or three times, but never her. How we managed to live together for six whole months without seeing each other is beyond me. I know for sure on my end I got to the point where I would make it a point to avoid her, and she had to have been doing the same on her end.
Needless to say, after that experience I made a vow that I’d never live with anyone else ever again. I moved out of there at the end of the year into my own apartment and I couldn’t be happier. I’m on my second apartment now, and I am still loving the freedom of solo living.
A lot of people have roommate horror stories, but many people have successful stories as well. It’s definitely all about how you approach the situation, how open you are, and how open the other person is.
In most cases, you will receive your roommates name and email address during the summer before school starts. Take advantage of that by emailing them to informally introduce yourself and learn about each other. It’s also a good way to discuss living arrangements, and who will bring what so that you don’t find yourself being the only one buying things for the dorm (or apartment) that both of you will benefit from. I’m sure everyone is guilty of social media stalking at some point in their life, so don’t be afraid to look them up on Facebook or other social media and reach out to them that way. It will allow you to see their pictures and get a glimpse of their life so you have a better understanding of them before you meet in person.
From day one, each roommate should express their expectations and everyone should come to common grounds on things that will affect each of you. Setting up cleaning schedules, discussing what things can be shared versus what things are off limits to everyone, noise expectations, guest expectations, etc. If you don’t talk about these things from day one, things will spiral out of control, and at that point, there won’t be much you can do. In each of my roommate situations, none of us communicated these things.
In my first situation, one of the roommates was so dirty and disgusting. She would also eat some of the other roommates’ food without asking. In my second roommate situation, I brought a kitchen trash can, and I noticed my roommate would always fill it up so quickly, never empty it, and never provide bags. Eventually, I moved the whole thing into my room. If you discuss things like that, it will alleviate issues down the line. They may not seem like major things in the beginning, but trust me, eventually you will get fed up.
Overall, no one says you and your roommates have to be friends. The biggest thing is to be cordial and respectful. You’ll be living with each other for an entire school year. You want to feel comfortable in your space because that is essentially your home while you are away from home. You don’t want to hate going to to your room and try to stay away from it so that you can avoid your roommates. Sometimes your RA can be good resource if you want to have an outsider come in to mediate. If things are super out of hand and uncontrollable, then request to move. There’s no guarantee that your next situation will be better than your last, but if you feel like you’re in a bad enough situation, then it’s worth the try.