Maybe you had brothers and sisters growing up and you had to share a room. If so, you’ll be better prepared to share your personal space. But for only-children or for those who have never had to share a bedroom, their first ‘roommate’ experience can be a tricky part of new College life.

If you’re lucky, you’ll get a tidy roommate who goes to sleep and wakes up when you do. They won’t snore or hit snooze on their alarm from six to seven each morning at five minute intervals.

This perfect roommate won’t bring strangers home or have them sleep over, in a bed less than two meters away from your own. This person won’t snore, won’t play loud music, and won’t keep ripe, stinking bananas in their closet. They won’t ‘borrow’ your toiletries or food without replacing it.

Or they might do some or all of these things. Now you have to face life living toe-to-toe with an incompatible roommate. So what can you do?

Take a deep breath, and realize you will have to learn to share your space. This means compromise. Don’t be afraid to set some ground-rules, but don’t go overboard and create a negative atmosphere. Be friendly and honest, but communicate your boundaries.

Boundaries can also be physical. A mosquito net or straight hanging panels can divide space and give you a feeling of control. Just make sure your roommate is on board beforehand.

Hang pictures and posters, buy bed sheets and storage to make your space as pleasant as possible. A nice, green plant can help dissipate odours and create a calming atmosphere.

Remember, you aren’t perfect either. Be open to feedback from your roommate as well and take steps to be considerate of their boundaries as well as your own. If you set a good example, your roommate might just follow suit.

If all of this fails, then you can take steps to find a new roommate or an open single room for the next semester. But you might be missing an opportunity to create a lasting bond with someone if you move on too quickly. If you learn to compromise and share space, you might just gain a life-skill and a friendship that could potentially last long after you’ve graduated.

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