Communication helps roommate relations

The Roommate trailer purposefully plays on the fears of entering college freshmen everywhere that are planning on getting a random roommate. While the chances are very slim of ending up with an obsessive psycho killer as your roommate, there is a very real chance of ending up with someone you can’t stand. However, everyone starts out with the potential to be friends, and if certain preemptive measures are taken, this relationship can form, if not into best friends then at least into agreeable companions.

My own experiences with roommates was thankfully a fairly pleasant one, all things considered. I was spared having a completely random roommate freshman year by joining a Facebook group aimed at helping incoming Tech freshman girls who did not want a random roommate find a roommate, which I highly recommend doing. In this way I was able to make sure I was at least rooming with someone normal, if not someone I was yet friends with. I left for college with high hopes and an open heart.

Unfortunately, due in large part to my private personality and the ungodly smallness of Freshman Experience dorms, our personalities did not mesh too well. I’m the type of person who needs my alone time, and our room became almost the hangout spot for several girls on my floor that my roommate was friends with.

I am in no way trying to place the blame on her, because a normal person probably would have just joined in, but I am just not that outgoing and ended up feeling a little awkward and excluded. As a result, I spent most of my time in a different dorm building where several new friends of mine lived and ending up switched dorm rooms spring semester to live with one of them.

However, overall it was not a bad random roommate experience compared to stories I’ve heard from friends. I think we could have avoided a lot of the awkwardness by instead of trying to handle each problem as it came, establishing certain ground rules from the start.  I realize it is spring semester and you freshmen have already been living with your roommates for a semester, but if you don’t get along with him or her and have not yet established some ground rules, I urge you to do so now. Hopefully these will help mend your relationship and make your living experience more agreeable.

First figure out your studying types. If one of you needs complete silence when studying, establish a no music policy while someone is trying to get some work done. If you are both the type of people who can have music and the TV on while simultaneously studying, I envy you. If you’re one of those types of people that need music to study, be considerate and buy an iPod.

However, there is a caveat to this rule, because if you’re the type of person who studies nonstop in between classes and at night, you should probably be considerate and go to the library some of the times so you can spare your roommate.

A cleaning rule is also important. Avoid any problems by agreeing to keep your side of the room livable and clean. There should also be some sort of schedule established for taking out the trash, because it’s not fair for one person to always have to do it. If you’ve been happily rooming with someone all semester and have never taken out the trash, I am sorry to inform you that your roommate is probably highly annoyed with you and you should start pitching in now.

It’s also smart to set up some boyfriend/girlfriend visitation rules if one of you is in a relationship. Be considerate of the other person, and if they are trying to have alone time, leave. However, this goes both ways, and you shouldn’t have a friend over at all times of the night. Another rule you should both follow is agreeing to not touch the other person’s belongings without asking first. Even if you think it’s something small like a paper clip, those little things can add up.

When it comes to night life, it’s nice to establish the rule that if one of you is going out and the other is not, upon your return to the dorm room you should not slam the door open and turn on all lights as you prepare yourself for bed; that would probably not only wake up your sleeping room mate, it would annoy him or her immensely. Instead be thoughtful and quietly change, preferably in the dark.

An underlying rule should be communication. If something your roommate is doing is bothering you, let him or her know in a nice way. I’m sure they don’t even realize it’s bothering you, and once you bring it up they will be more than happy to stop. As long as you have these ground rules established, there is no reason why you shouldn’t get along great with your roommate.


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