For first years becoming sophomores, housing choices have opened up drastically— among residence halls, we also have the options to stay in either an interest house or a sorority/fraternity. However, despite the increased choices, many of us will continue to live with roommates, perhaps even for several years into the future.
Living with a roommate— or several— can be a wonderful experience and gain you lifelong friends, but prospective students who have not had the experience may feel anxious going into such a commitment.
Stay cool and do not fear—your roommate may become your friend, but first and foremost, they are your partner. Living in a confined space with a near stranger feels scary at first, so remember to set some ground rules so that you are both on the same page. In high school, my English teacher advised the class to sit down with our roommates to learn a little bit about one another and figure out how to navigate living together, and I found this advice extremely helpful. As precise as the question packet algorithm for incoming first years may be, you can’t depend on it to hand over the perfect person who will agree with you on everything.
Some topics to discuss would be sleeping arrangements— your roommate may sleep earlier or later than you, and you don’t want the light to disturb them or disturb you. Figure out a good time to turn off the lights, and if you need it, turn on a lamp near your bedside. In addition, be conscious of the amount of noise you make in the morning or night when your roommate is sleeping, out of courtesy to them. Nobody likes the sound of banging drawers or slamming doors when they are trying to sleep.
Speaking of noise, don’t loudly blast your Netflix shows or music when they are in the room, unless the two of you have specifically decided it’s okay. Even if they don’t look like they mind, it can be extremely annoying and may cause them to dislike you, which can make for a tense and awkward relationship.
It’s inevitable that at some point in the semester, your number of cups and plates start to pile up if you like to bring food from the dining hall into your room. Don’t leave plates of half-eaten food lying around for days at a time— not only will it attract bugs, but it will stink up the entire room and create a mess. This is another thing you should discuss with your roommate— how messy or neat are they? Some people don’t mind some messiness, but it might be best not to leave your dirty clothes lying around on the floor if that’s something you are used to doing.
As you start making friends, you might want to invite them over or have a gathering in your room. Lots of students do this, but make sure your roommate is okay with it first. It is their living space as much as it is yours, so they also get a say in who enters it. However, having some mutual friends with your roommate would help.
There will definitely be some habits you will have to ditch in order to room comfortably with another person, but as long as you are aware of your roommate’s preferences, respect their space, and are open to compromise, the two of you can have a great relationship that may expand far into the future!