Bear Essentials: Living with your roommate

In college, there is one great challenge that doesn’t include your studies or your future. Would you believe this challenge is called the roommate? Yes, the roommate. Though it may seem insignificant at first, a roommate can actually make or break your college experience, depending on his/ her personality, habits, and compatibility. You’re already going to have a lot on your plate during college: homework, exams, mean professors, clubs, deadlines and many more stressful things. How tiresome would it be to add roommate issues on top of that? Luckily, there are a few helpful ways to avoid conflict and frustration with your roommate.

1. Make things clear with your roommate from the beginning of your relationship. Let them know of your needs, pet peeves, or other little things that may cause big problems in the future. Also, be sure to give them the opportunity to share what they expect from you. This first talk will establish a set of unwritten rules (you could write them if necessary) that both of you should strive to follow. Don’t forget to keep a light tone of voice, so that the conversation doesn’t seem too serious or harsh.

2. Respect your roommate and their stuff. Be mindful of your roommate’s privacy. You need your space and they need theirs too. Consider your roommate before you decide to bring people over, be loud, or do anything that could easily disturb them. Also ask before taking or using any of their belongings. You probably wouldn’t like it if you came back to the room to see your food stash half eaten without your knowledge.

3. Address problems while they’re still small. You and your roommate will have problems at some point in your relationship. Neither of you are perfect; so, it is likely that there will be occasional mistakes made on both ends. Instead of keeping every little irritation pent up inside you, address these issues while they’re still small. Casually letting your roommate know what bothers you will prevent awkward, tense conversations in the future. No one wants to be faced with a long confession when studying and other important pursuits need to be done. Deal with problems right when they happen!

4. Be friendly and interested. Your roommate will be someone of importance to you, whether you like them or not. Make the effort to take interest in them—their hobbies, interests, classes, etc. Getting to know your roommate will greatly benefit your relationship. Don’t be afraid to show them what kind of person you are, as well. Always be open to them and their ideas while you share yours.

5. Don’t expect your roommate to be your best friend or your worst enemy. Just because they’re your roommate doesn’t mean you have to either love or hate them. It’s not so bad to have a neutral relationship. Don’t try to make your roommate your best friend if it doesn’t happen naturally. Far-fetched hopes and expectations might make things awkward. On the other hand, don’t make your roommate your enemy – you will have a much worse time.

These are just a few tips that may help life with your roommate go more smoothly. Your roommate is just one of the many other challenges you will face at college (unless you do become close friends). Don’t make this one difficult, and simply enjoy the ride.