You have no idea who this chick even is. You’re a lost freshman hundreds of miles from home and stuck with a total stranger. She’s breathing your air, sleeping in the same room and possibly hoarding your missing protein bars in the bottom drawer of her desk. Who knows? So how will you survive? Hint: not with passive aggressive notes.
1.Who the hell are you?
The first step: get to know your roommate. Figure out where they come from, what their brother’s name is, if they like sushi, what makes them laugh (what definitely doesn’t) and what they value. Nobody likes an aggressive chatter, but everyone likes a listener. Make sure you ask questions and appear (if you aren’t) genuinely interested. Minneapolis Community and Technical College sophomore Gabrielle Prosser mentioned that getting to know your roommate(s) can mean the difference between wine nights together or nights avoiding each other. “It helped to know that everyone at their core was good and wanted to make it work just as much as I did,” Prosser said. “We all had dinner at the beginning and it was obvious then how different we all were, but we’ve been making it work.”
2. Appreciate the individuality
Aretha spelled it best when she sang r-e-s-p-e-c-t. Remember this in terms of money, values, beliefs and culture. If both roommates respect one another the environment becomes even more entertaining; being individually unique (weird) allows for collective fun (and weirdness). Sophomore Samantha Murray suggests patience with differences. “My way may not always be the best way” Murray said. Murray and her roommate often had different viewpoints and understanding that her opinion may not always be best made their friendship stronger. They got to joke about “butt cleavage” because one prefers thongs to underwear and “the ‘f’ word” because Murray doesn’t swear.
3. Do they need an Epi-Pen?
Get down to brass tacks. What time do they go to bed? Do they hate candles? Do they have any allergies? Ask them the questions that are essential for easy co-habitation. Being a great roommate means being helpful, easy-going and definitely flexible. Plus, every college student knows that getting some decent sleep and not breaking out in hives kinda help make life easier.
4. Food is bae
When you just meet your roommate for the first time, draw the line of what’s yours and do not steal their food. Trust me, causes problems. I won’t lie: I’ve had the late night munchies and stolen a couple of crackers. Doesn’t mean I don’t feel guilt. And if your roommate turns out to be a late night stealer, confront ASAP.
5. What do you love?
You may end up sharing similar characteristics, like a love of football. Find things that you both love and use them to your advantage. Get meals or complain about studying together—anything that the majority of college students do daily. I’ve found through experience that bonding over a love of food never fails. Sadly, for a nut-allergy kid like myself, Nutella wasn’t that food. But cookies, those rock.
6. Spend a little (cookie) dough
Surprise you roommate with something small when they’re having a rough day, or if you just feel like sucking up, write them a note. The point is, do something nice to make them smile. Everyone loves feeling appreciated, especially by the person they are living with. Showing that you still like them despite your forced assignment will definitely pull at their heartstrings. Freshman year I had roommate tension. One day I left a note on her desk wishing her a great day and it really made a difference. She was pretty damn chill after that. Notre Dame sophomore Brittany DiGenova received a note and cookie from her roommate. “That alone helped me get through a week when I was feeling really lonely,” DiGenova said.
7. Don’t be annoying
Respect your roommate’s need for private time. By doing this, you are guaranteed some time of your own eventually. My roommate would spend hours on Skype yelling into her computer, regardless of whether or not I was studying. Let’s just say it caused issues, including me leaving the room. The first step is being realistic about what’s rude (I.E., gabbing at your computer for what feels like infinity). Michigan State University junior Allison Slagle spoke about how to handle times when you do become agitated with your roommate. “When we could both tell that we were frustrated or annoyed with the other person, we tended to give each other a little space for a bit…and then we would chat about it,” Slagle said.
8. Bring a piece of home
Nothing makes living together harder than feeling uncomfortable in the space. Spice the place up with something from home—a photo, a poster, a drawing. Something that you can look at and feel peace with. Augustana University junior Andrea Conover learned to understand the importance of her roommate’s home. “I learned to bite my tongue and put myself in her shoes when she was having 2 a.m. Skype conversations with her family halfway across the world,” Conover said.
9. Kill them with kindness
It’s absolutely 100% undeniably necessary that you remain calm, controlled and at ease with whatever situation you are put into. If you find yourself upset with your roommate, don’t freak out or be crabby. The best strategy is to kill them with kindness. Be so nice it scares even you. Notre Dame sophomore Julio Salazar had a somewhat uncomfortable first year experience. “[We tried] to avoid each other while still being nice,” Salazar said.
At the end of the day the sun still sets and will rise again tomorrow. You’ll find that your roommate isn’t scary; they are just another person with just as many worries and needs as you. So relax, take a breath and enjoy the ride. Junior Stuart Lien from Iowa State highlighted the importance of not stressing out. “My best advice would be not to stress out about it,” Lien said. “The vast majority of my freshman year was spent outside of my dorm anyways.”
Just be open, accepting and willing to be little uncomfortable You don’t need anything drastic, just be chill. As a girl who had a very unique (to put it nicely) freshman roommate, I know you’ll survive.