At my four year public university, living on campus is pretty much mandatory. The only way to get out of living in the residence halls for at least one year is being an older student, living with your parents, or being married. I didn’t fall under any of those categories, so when the time came, I filled out my housing application and turned in the $100 housing deposit. A few months later, I checked myHousing and the name and email of my randomly assigned roommate showed up. I found her on Facebook and things started out great. We talked weekly and even had a small Skype session before the year started.
We talked about our interests, our majors, families, and what we were bringing (we evan semi-matched our bed sets!). But despite all of the talking, my roommate situation wasn’t perfect during the school year. I didn’t expect us to be best friends, but I thought my relationship with my roommate would be a little better than what it was. Soon I learned that in order to have a good relationship with your roommate, communication is key–and I lacked in the communication department.
The first few days with my roommate were cool. We kind of clung a little more because we were both new to the area, and we went to a few Welcome Week activities together. Then I started hanging out in the lobby to meet new people, and she and her boyfriend hung out with the friends they were starting to make. It wasn’t long before I was hanging out with my friends most of the night and only coming back to sleep or study. My roommate and I just sort of stopped talking, and our relationship suffered.
When you and your roommate get to college, the freedom can become overwhelming! There is so much to do: classes to take, games to attend, and clubs to join. Sometimes you can forget to sit back in your room and take it all in, because you just want to explore more and make all those freshman mistakes like getting a tattoo and overdrafting on your banking account (neither of which I suggest).
I challenge all the readers of this post to do this one thing with their roommates: Take one night out of the week to just bond. Have a movie marathon, go to a pet store (who can resist cute animals?), or eat at a restaurant you both have been dying to try. Do at least one activity together, without the hype of your new friends, and bond a little.
After my random roommate moved to a different hall during the tail end of the first semester, my best friend moved into the room I was living in. It was better because we were hanging out all the time anyway and I felt more comfortable around her. Every once and awhile though, I do think about the slow communication break down I had with my first roommate.
Communication is the key to any successful relationship. If you aren’t taking the time to communicate, the bond isn’t going to form itself. Make sure you are taking the time to learn about your roommate’s preferences and schedule; not doing so can be awkward and hard on both of you.
To keep your communication open from the get go, here are some tips I wish I’d followed more closely:
1. Exchange contact information. To keep the lines of communication open exchange all forms of communication that you check regularly with your roommate. It’s important that they have a way to contact you if something is happening. At my school, there were mandatory hall meetings, and if you weren’t aware of one of these you could get fined for not attending. Having a roommate with access to your cell phone number would help you a ton in a situation like that.
2. Make a roommate contract and take it seriously. In my hall we had to create a contract and send it in to the RA on our hall, but me and my first roommate were very relaxed about what was in the contract. Learn from my mistake and actually take the time needed. You will thank yourself later for taking time out of Welcome Week to actually like the contract you create instead of blowing it off to go make more friends. Think about any situation under the sun from visitors to dates to parties and the misunderstandings and hurt feelings that could be avoided with such a contract.
3. Be the roommate you would want to have in return. Think about what you want in a roommate and strive to be that for your roommate. You can’t solve the problems your roommate has, but if they see you being an amazing roommate, they are more likely to follow suit.
Happy roommate bonding, prospies!