Around this time of year, college students all around the U.S. are just starting to settle back into the routine of the fall semester. Dorms, along with being ridiculously small and expensive, usually come with a roommate (or two or three). I know you have probably heard plenty of roommate horror stories, and I guarantee you that they are all accurate. For the benefit of this article, I’ll give you a little background info on me. I’m an only child. So, for 18 years, I never had to share a room with anyone, that is until I moved into a dorm, and four years later, I have definitely learned a thing or two about living with a roommate in a small cramped space. Here are just a few things I’ve picked up over the years, and as you transition from the dorm to apartments, houses or whatever other mutual living situation, these still apply.
1. ASK ASK ASK
No matter what it is or how small it might seem, always ask your roommate to use or borrow something. I get that some people come from big families and share everything, but some people don’t, so to be safe, just ask them. You don’t want to cause an argument because you decided to borrow a paperclip (some people are just like that).
My first roommate liked to borrow my clothes without asking, and then put it back in my closet — as if I wouldn’t notice …
2. Pick up after yourself
You don’t need to be clean per se, but be considerate to the fact that someone else lives there. Living with a stranger is never easy, but don’t make it worse by making your living area look like a hurricane just passed through it (at least we know it wasn’t Erika!).
I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say that girls aren’t always cleaner than guys, and I still have nightmares.
3. Party Pooper
If you want to have people over, ask your roommate first. They might be studying or getting ready to take a nap/sleep and having people over might distract/annoy them. Remember that it is their space too, and they have the right to their privacy (but there’s no such thing as privacy in a dorm though).
Naps are very important in college tbh.
4. Check Your Noise Level
Listening to music and watching TV is fine, but after a certain time make sure your roommate is cool with it. They may have an 8 a.m. lab or work the next day (poor soul) and need to catch some zzzz.
As I like to say, headphones were invented for a reason.
5. Share the space
At the end of the day, you have to live with your roommate(s) for typically a whole year during, what could be, very stressful times. Don’t encroach on their space if you can help it, be courteous and everything should be fine. If something is bothering you, talk about it! Letting it fester will end disastrously. Communication is key here.
If all that fails and you still don’t get along with your roommate, talk to housing and move to a different room, or try establishing some house rules (with consequences). Not everyone can get along and that’s understandable. In my four years at UNF I have changed rooms twice mid-year, and it always worked out for the best. Just be open and honest about your expectations, so there are no surprises down the road.