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I’m writing this
letter blog post to tell you about all the little things in life at college that I wish I had known when I was in your shoes.
One of the biggest things I wish I had known was about roommates. Living with a complete stranger or a friend is stinkin’ hard.
Most students are used to having our own rooms at home, so sharing a
jail cell dorm room is your first experience at sharing a room. You may have some unique habits, like going to bed at precisely 10:08 every night or drying your hair at midnight before you get into bed. You may be an early bird, a night owl, or somewhere in between. You may study with music or study in silence. You may leave your door propped open for friends to stop by and chat or you may prefer to shut your door so no one can come in.
I’m here to tell you what no one told me: it’s not like you see in the movies. You and your roommate won’t magically have matching schedules, enjoy watching the same television shows, and both go to bed at the same time before you both wake up, enjoy breakfast together, and go skipping off into the sunshine.
Here’s a reality check for you:
probably will may end up with a bad roommate. After four semesters with two different roommates plus an awful suitemate, I can tell you I haven’t had the easiest time concerning housing. And unfortunately, due to housing policies, you may bring the issue up with an RA/RD only to be told you, not your roommate, has to move out of the room.
Here’s my words of wisdom for you, which I have named The Three C’s:
- Roommate Contracts are essential. Sit down with your RA and pick a time for lights out, how to divide the chores, when visitors are allowed, if/when you want to lock your door, etc.
- Compromise. You won’t get everything on your “wish list.” You can’t expect your roommate to magically become an early bird like you. However, maybe you can decide that lights out should be at 10 pm, and if your roommate wants to talk on the phone or study late at night, she should pick a different location.
- And, finally, Communicate! If you have a problem with your roommate, don’t leave passive-aggressive notes. Decide on a good time for the two of you to meet (not the night before a big exam!) and address the issue as a team. Use “I” statements (example: “I noticed this morning that in order to lock the door, you have to (…) I am really uncomfortable leaving the door unlocked because of burglaries and sexual assaults. I don’t want this to happen to either one of us, so I will post a sign on the door to remind us both to keep it locked.”) and also let her ‘clear the air’ if there is something she needs to get off her chest without being defensive. If need be, bring in your RA to help address the issue.
I hope my advice comes in handy, whether you are a freshman or a senior! And don’t worry, I’ll be sure to take a dose of my own medicine this semester.