College Roommates 101
Whether you are moving into a new apartment or into campus dorms, chances are good that you are going to have a roommate (or two) sharing your space. Living with a complete stranger is similar to getting married without ever having dated. There’s bound to be a learning curve for all involved as you each get to know one another. While not everyone will become best friends with his/her new roommate, here are some great tips for creating a healthy and harmonious living space while you're in college.
Establish Guidelines – This does not mean coming in and barking orders at your new roommate. Instead, sit down together and find out about each other’s study habits, daily routines and social preferences. Once you have discussed this information, you can create a schedule for using the kitchen, sharing the bathroom, designating study times and entertaining visitors. By following the agreed upon guidelines, you’ll know what to expect from each other and learn to respect each other’s space.
Share Cleaning Duties – Along with setting guidelines, you should also realize you no longer have mom around to clean your room. It’s important to always pick up after yourself and to maintain a healthy, clean environment. Consider taking turns for regular chores, such as emptying the garbage, scrubbing the shower and cleaning the floors.
Practice Good Hygiene – This may seem like a no brainer, but some students just don't seem to get it when it comes to personal hygiene. Be sure to hit the shower after any exercise or activities, and do not go overboard with any perfume or body sprays. Some people are sensitive to strong odors and may even become ill from extended exposure to heavy scents. Be considerate of your roommate. Don’t go crazy with scented candles, air fresheners and other items that may have a strong smell. There’s a difference between smelling ‘fresh’ and wearing enough cologne to kill a small animal. Moderation is the key.
Respect Each Other’s Belongings – There’s no reason to think you have carte blanche to rummage through your roommate’s closet for clothes and shoes or to eat his/her food. Respect each other’s space and belongings to ensure there are no hard feelings.
Be Flexible - There will be some days when your roommate may just need some space. If he/she asks to have some privacy, simply head to the library or go to a friend's room to hang for a while. Give your roomy time to decompress as he/she may be dealing with some issues. It’s also important to realize that schedules are not set in stone. If you (or your roommate) need to move a scheduled shower time or cleaning schedule because of another commitment, be flexible and just talk about it; don't be too rigid and demand that the pre-determined time be followed without flexibility.
Communicate – In order for any of these suggestions to work, you must communicate with each other. If you find that things are starting to irritate you (such as too many late night visitors or a messy shared living space), don’t wait until you are ready to explode to bring the issue up to your roommate. Instead, when the problem occurs, simply take your roommate aside and express your concerns in a quiet tone and manner. Explain what is bothering you, and ask if there may be some compromise that will make both of you happy. Likewise, be open to any concerns your roommate may bring to you. Don’t become defensive. Remember, this is a shared space, and both parties deserve respect and consideration.
We have all heard the horror stories of dorm life and campus living when roommates are involved, but they don't always have to end in a massacre. Always remember to treat your roommate with the respect that you would like to receive in return. With a little patience, consideration and communication, you and your roommate can create a healthy, happy living space together during your college years.