Okay so it’s your first time living away from home, and to top that off you have to share a room with a complete stranger. While sharing a living space with a new person may present its challenges, there are many positives that can come out of this experience.
I remember the initial roommate form I filled out for my college, it asked questions like how late I like to stay up at night and what are my hobbies. I can still imagine that anxious yet exciting feeling of anticipation when I thought about meeting my roommate for the first time. Upon meeting her, I realized we could not have been more different. She was a science major who needed to go to bed super early to be prepared for her 8AM biology lab, while I did my best to choose 11AM classes. And when I was excited to join different clubs on campus, she was looking forward to some peace and quiet time to study in our dorm room.
Although we had our differences, we still managed to get along fine. She may not have been my new best friend, but she was someone who I could rely on and who respected me. Something I did not do my freshman year that I think would have been very beneficial would be to create a roommate agreement. A roommate agreement is an opportunity to lay out preferences and expectations before conflicts arise. Some key points to go over with a new roommate include guest rules, sleep hours/schedule, sharing, food in fridge/labels, cleaning, allergies, door open/locked, etc. By opening this type of communication channel from the beginning, you will help establish a level of trust and respect for one another.
But when conflict does arise, know that it’s okay to complain (within reason of course). Constructive confrontation is what will help make the situation better. I know how it feels to be uncomfortable in your own “home” and I would not wish this upon anyone. By communicating even if it is complaining, you avoid suppressing feelings of irritation. Try to express your feelings when stating your complaint, and offer solutions to the problem. Sometimes there may not be a clear answer, and in these situations, it is important to know when a compromise may be in order.
College students have enough issues to deal with, don’t make your living situation be one of them!
For ideas on how to make your own roommate agreement, check this out.
Nicole Santarsiero is a team member at College Success Arizona. Nicole has a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and Religious Studies from Stonehill College in Massachusetts, and a Master of Business Administration (MBA), from the University of Massachusetts.