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Adjusting to College Life

Dealing with Roommates

Just because you're polar opposites doesn't mean you can't make some compromises.

Let’s discuss the subject of roommates. I won’t rehash my own experiences from freshman year (sharing a quad, also known as a four person closet, with three very inconsiderate girls, followed by a nice double shared with a sit up psycho). Whether you were raised as a single child or have eight brothers and sisters, sharing a space with a stranger can be very difficult.

Perhaps you know a friend who will be attending the same school and think it would be wonderful if you two could be roommates. However, most people who have lived through this experience strongly advise against it. Typically the friendship goes sour very quickly. Remember that being friends with someone is very different than having to live with that person.

Now, you will probably receive a bunch of info on setting ground “rules” with a roommate. I remember being terrified even at the idea of discussing something like that with my roommates. I didn’t want them to not like me. But looking back, I sure wish I had. Instead, I just gritted my teeth and complained about their behaviors to everyone else but them. I didn’t get that never voicing how I felt about some of the things they did meant that nothing could ever change.

When you room with one or multiple people, you are sharing a space, whether it’s a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen or all of the above. And the thing is, people have different ways of being in a space. Your room at school should be your sanctuary. It is the one place you should be able to study and sleep comfortably and as much as it may give you the willies, you need to setup some parameters with your roommate(s).

Here are some tips as to how to go about having the discussion:

1. Set up a time when both of you can really focus on the conversation. It doesn’t have to be a long one but it should be free from distractions like homework, beer and significant others.

2. Stick with the basics, i.e. sleep, study and visitors.

3. Come to mutual agreements. Don’t start the conversation with: “I want…” You will both have different class schedules, friends and sleep patterns. It may help if both of you create a list of “I would likes…” and then compare and contrast and see where you can compromise.

4. Designate a time for lights out in the room. 9pm is probably asking too much but 3am is definitely out of line. Each of you can have lights to read by but lights out should mean no more music, computer keyboard tapping or talking on the phone. There are plenty of spaces on campus if one of you needs to stay up later to complete an assignment or take a phone call.

5. Designate some study time. Every hour that you’re not in class is unreasonable but there should be a few hours a day when you can each be in your dorm room working. This may be when the other person is in class or you may find that you prefer to work in the library or a common room.

6. Visitors: The whole thrill of having your own room or apartment is the ability to have people over without getting the third degree from your parents. However, you are sharing the space and the space tends to be small. If friends are coming over for an extended period of time, you should definitely give each other a heads up. If someone is going to spend the night, you absolutely must pass it by your roommate(s).

7. Although this may be the most awkward subject, drug and alcohol use should come up. The standard rule at schools is that if you’re found in a space along with drugs, underage drinking or both, you will be in some major trouble whether you were participating or not. You don’t want to be accused of something just because you happened to be in the room when your roommate was smoking up. Whether you plan on participating or not, these activities should NOT be done in your room.

8. If one of you decides to “forget” or ignore the rules, it should be brought up. Being honest and vocal with your roommate(s) is always better than stewing in your own business.

***If things get out of hand, and you are having serious issues with your roommate(s) that you have tried to discuss but they have been ignored, it’s time to involve some other people. You may have a peer resident assistant that can provide interference or you may need to go directly to the student resident office. Don’t feel bad about doing this. Always remember that you pay an equal share for the space you live in and have every right to feel safe and comfortable there and you can use essay help for your hometask.

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