Roomie: Being and keeping one

So, you are have started your college days and have to share a room with a roommate or two. Well, Getting along with a roommate is a real concern, and one you may be facing for the first time. If you’re a bookworm who goes to bed early and your roomie is a party animal who gets going at midnight, sharing the same quarters may not be easy. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get along.

Mutual respect counts

Perhaps the most important lessons you’ll learn in college are the ones you learn outside the classroom. Figuring out how to live with someone involves respecting differences, sharing, being courteous, accepting others for who they are, and much more. You’ll find that sharing space builds character.

While there are many alternatives for roommates who don’t get along, most do stick it out, and solve their problems by talking it out.

Talking it out

Keeping lines of communication open is essential. Before you even step foot in your dorm, give your roommate a call and find out who you’ll be living with for the next year. Here are some tips to start on:

Discuss important issues and establish rules. If you can’t study with music on, then come to an agreement about quiet hours. If she likes to have lots of friends in the room all the time, and you don’t, make a schedule so that you can both enjoy the room at different times. If your roommate would rather you didn’t study with the light on when she’s trying to sleep, she should tell you. If you make house rules, and communicate openly and often, you can avoid unpleasant surprises down the road.

Be respectful. Successful roommate relationships are based on mutual respect. If your roommate doesn’t like anyone borrowing her clothes, respect her wishes. If you don’t like music on while you’re studying, she should respect your needs, too.

Be willing to compromise. You and your roommate may not agree on everything, but you both have to be willing to compromise a little bit. If you’re a slob and she’s a neat freak, you should start cleaning up, at least in the parts of the room you share. And she should try to be flexible and realise your unmade bed doesn’t affect her.

Be courteous. Courtesy is contagious. If you behave politely to your roommate, she will likely follow your lead. Take messages when people call for her. Wish her luck on an exam. Ask if you can pick up something for her while you’re running errands. And, don’t borrow anything without asking.

Some openers

•What’s your name?

•Where are you from? What’s your family like?

•What were some of your favourite activities last year?

•What are you most excited about as you start your college year?

•What are you most anxious about?

•Tell me about a precious possession that you plan to bring with you from home.

Tips to get you going

•Remember roommates don’t have to be best friends. It’s great if you like each other, but one of the most rewarding experiences is getting to know different of people and learning to tolerate/celebrate differences.

•Remember roommates are individuals with likes and dislikes just like you. To be a respectful roommate, don’t crowd them out of the room with your friends, or drive them mad by typing all night...

•Don’t make assumptions about using your roommates belongings. Be sure you have an explicit agreement in place about the use of one another’s stuff.

•When something your roommate is doing bothers you, be direct and respectful in bringing it up, and bring it up sooner rather than later.

•If your roommate complains that something you do bothers them, don’t dismiss it.