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Tips for Living with a College Roommate
For most freshman moving into a college dorm, living with a roommate is a new experience. It can be scary, because you often do not know who you are rooming with, and if you do you are worried about living with them. However, having a roommate can actually be a lot of fun, as long as you know what to expect.
Tip One: Contact Your Roommate Ahead of Time
If you receive information about your roommate before move-in day, make sure that you contact them as soon as possible. Learn their name, their major, and where they are from. Then find out what they expect from you as a roommate, and tell them what you expect from them. Is the room to be kept neat and clean at all times? Is drinking allowed in the room (if you are underage, you shouldn't have alcohol anyway, but it happens, so address it) or should the room remain alcohol free? What hours do you like to study and sleep? These are questions that should be answered early on.
Tip Two: Coordinate Supplies
If you are able to contact your roommate before moving in, you should try to figure out what each of you are bringing. You will not need (or have space for) two refrigerators, two television sets, or two microwaves. Unless you or your roommate are dead-set on having your own dorm supplies, you should coordinate this before you arrive on campus. This will also save money and muscle power (as you will have to carry these things up the stairs to your room, unless you are lucky enough to live on the first floor).
Tip Three: Setting up the Room
If you arrive before your roommate on move-in day, try not to take up the entire room. Your roommate will not appreciate it if they show up and their entire side of the room is covered in your luggage. You should also try not to take up more space than you need. You have your own set of furniture, so do not settle in to the furniture that is meant for your roommate.
A good idea for getting comfortable with your roommate is to have some shared spaces. For example, my roommate and I share a corner of the room with all of our food, our television, our movies, and a few other shared items. You do not need to keep all of your things on your side of the room, unless that is the agreement that you made with your roommate.
Tip Four: Guests
Make sure that you let your roommate know who you are comfortable allowing into your room. If you do not want your roommate's boyfriend/girlfriend to stay the night, tell them this before the start of the school year. Likewise, if your roommate asks you not to bring over guests past a certain time, you should do your best to respect their wishes. You share this space, so you should both be able to feel comfortable.
Tip Five: Communication
The key to being happy with your roommate is communication. If they are doing something that you do not like, you need to let them know. Talk to them calmly, making sure that you are clear about all of your concerns. Do not do this over the phone or through a text message, because then your conversation means much less and might not be taken as seriously.
If your roommate comes to you with concerns, you should respect them. If you cannot fix the problem, consider providing alternative solutions. (Ex. You are a night owl, so you stay up late, but you will turn your light off after a certain time).
You should also let your roommate know if you will be leaving for the weekend or if you will not be back into the room until late at night. This saves them a lot of worry.
If you need to, you can always request a room change, but you should try to work out your problems with your roommate before you do this. The most important thing is that you are comfortable in your room and that you are able to enjoy the college experience.