If you’re like me, you had your own room growing up. So the idea of a roommate can be fun and daunting at the same time for many college students. You can mitigate potential issues just by setting up a few ground rules and making sure you and your roomie are on the same page.
I had two roommates in college, my sophomore year and my senior year. Both girls were friends of mine and completely different from each other. The tips I share with you here came from my experience living with these wonderful girls. Needless to say, staying in close quarters does invite some issues, but no need to worry as it’s completely normal. Knowing how to prevent and deal with potential roommate issues can help make life easier for everyone. Here are a few tips.
If you share an actual room in a dorm or an apartment, personal space can be at a premium. It’s important to establish boundaries, especially if you do not know your roommate very well. Be confident in starting the conversation by introducing the topic from the very beginning. Coming up with a list of areas that you’d like to hit from the get-go can help ensure you cover everything. Some points to discuss: If you share a bathroom, establish ground rules for using each other’s shampoo, makeup, etc. If you don’t like to share those kind of things, don’t be afraid to say that – it’s your stuff! If you don’t mind sharing, mention that simply asking first is the way to go. If you have a shared kitchen or refrigerator, keeping items separate on different shelves works best. If you have issues about people spending the night or even coming over, make that known. Especially in a small, shared space, it’s important to feel safe and comfortable in your own room.
If you happen to encounter a situation in which your roommate violates any established rules or discussed items, simply set some time to talk with her in a calm and matter-of-fact manner. State how you feel (unsafe, hurt, overwhelmed, etc.) and mention what it was that your roommate did. Be ready for anything defensive that she might counteract with and have a solution for how this situation can be prevented in the future. If you have trouble determining how to address a situation, ask a friend or a counselor at school. They hear these kind of issues all the time, and they will certainly keep what you tell them private.
All in all, make sure you do have fun with your roommate! If you’re lucky enough to actually be friends with yours, it can be a fun experience and truly enhance college life. Imagine situations where you lock yourself out or need a shoulder to cry on. A roommate can be a godsend in such instances. Just make sure that you aren’t afraid to make your feelings or concerns known. It’s a great life lesson to learn early on and to know how to deal with.