By Rachael Gerron
Web Content Contributor
It’s finally August, also known as back to school time! Around this time last year, I was getting ready for my move to Texas State; creating Pinterest boards and planning how I wanted to decorate my dorm. However, this excitement often led to the dread of having to share the room with a complete stranger.
Roommates can be the cause of many student’s pre-college anxieties. If you’re in this boat right now, you’re in the right place! Here are a few tips for getting along with your roommate.
1. Get Rid Expectations (Positive or Negative)
No matter how much you talk beforehand, you’ll never know what it’s like to live with this person until it happens.
I remember being afraid my roommate wasn’t very talkative based on our initial conversation, but it turns out she was just not a great texter, as she later admitted. I found that once we met in person, we both talked a lot and clicked pretty immediately.
Some people expect to become best friends with their roommates, while others think of everything that could go wrong when sharing a living space with a stranger. In reality, neither of these experiences are going to happen exactly as you imagine them. It’s better to just remain neutral when thinking about your future roommate and let your relationships develop naturally!
2. Establish Rules
Texas State actually makes this step easier and less awkward than it sounds. You and your roommate are given a list of questions and scenarios, such as, “Do you need to ask your roommate for permission before bringing over guests?”
Remember that this is just as much your space as it is theirs, so these need to be reasonable rules that you both agree to. When you’re filling out this sheet, it’s important that neither of you is dominating the conversation and you’re equally contributing your thoughts.
I know some people quickly go through this list or even fill it out without their roommate (definitely DO NOT do that). My roommate and I carefully went through the list and explained our reasoning for each decision. It’s important to take this time to find out about your roommate’s pet peeves, how they want to live and visa versa.
3. Do Things Together
At the beginning of the school year, Texas State holds many events and activities for students to have fun before classes begin. Of course, this will be very different this year due to COVID-19, but there will still be opportunities to hang out away from your dorm rooms.
This can sometimes be difficult if you or your roommate have friends from high school because you might be tempted to only hang out with them. An easy solution is just to invite your roommate when you do things with friends!
4. Solve Conflicts
Inevitably, when you’re living with another person, you’re going to have differences in habits. Sometimes it’s just little quirks that don’t need to be brought up, but in other cases, there could be issues that are actually disturbing your peace.
Last year my dorm room in Jackson faced the west side of campus, so almost every evening I would watch the sunset from my window. I remember after a few weeks of living together, my roommate finally mentioned that she kept getting woken up by the light in the morning because I left the blinds open. I am an extremely heavy sleeper so this didn’t bother me at all. I wasn’t trying to be inconsiderate; I just had no idea this was an issue until she said something and that’s exactly why things like that need to be brought up!
Now, if you bring up these issues and nothing changes, you need to bring your Residential Assistant (RA) into it. This could be uncomfortable, but your boundaries need to be respected.
5. Have Alone Time
While it’s important to spend time with your roommate, you also need time to recharge yourself. This was one of the main things I was worried about going into college because I’m used to being able to be alone when I want. Honestly, this just isn’t always possible with a roommate.
You’ll eventually get comfortable with doing your own thing while being in the presence of another person. My roommate and I would often just sit on our phones or laptops mostly in silence, only occasionally talking to each other. This was great because, while I love talking, I needed time to just chill.
However, if you want to truly be alone, I would recommend going to Boko’s Lounge in the LBJ Student Center. This space is filled with couches, bean bag chairs and TVs for students to relax. It’s also a quiet space so you won’t be bothered by noise. To be honest, it has kind of weird daycare vibes, but if you are really desperate to get away from your roommate, this is the spot.
Having a roommate is a unique part of the college experience and it requires some getting used to, but hopefully these tips will help you to adjust a little bit easier!
Featured image by Rachael Gerron.