How to be a fantastic roommate

Congratulations, class of 2018. You did it. You navigated a whirlwind of admissions essays, financial aid packages and tearful family farewells, and now you’re here. Welcome to your new home. Now it’s time to meet the complete stranger you will be sharing a tiny room with for the next nine months. Good luck!

Meeting your roommate might seem like the scariest part of Week One. This person is somebody who you’ll be spending a lot of time with, and the only way your compatibility was measured was an online survey you totally filled out at the last minute. So if you’re worried about how to make the most out of a roommate relationship, here’s some advice from a seasoned sophomore.

DON’T: Judge your roommate before you even meet him or her. You may think that because you’ve already scoured your new roommate’s Facebook page and Twitter feed, you can be fairly confident you know everything about him or her. This is incorrect. The only thing on my first year roommate’s Facebook was pictures of cats and weird European bands, so I thought she was going to be incredibly weird. She is incredibly weird, and also smart and funny and a really great friend. Online profiles are always limited. A human being is much more than the TV shows he likes on Facebook, so hold off on drawing conclusions based on that first impression.

DO: Be tidy. Even if you and your roommate checked “messy” in the online survey, you probably do need to be neater at school than you are at home. Other people’s mess is so much more annoying than your own mess. Be considerate of each other.

And even if you and your roommate agree to a more relaxed organizational system, at least be hygienic. Absolutely no organic matter or rotting things – mold grows quickly and more easily in a dorm than you would expect. Dirty dishes count. If your room starts to smell nasty, not only will your roommate be irritated, but so will your whole corridor.

DON’T: Take your roommate’s things. You’re not actually siblings, despite the fact that you’re living together. Your roommate’s shoes might look really cute with your outfit and those cookies might look delicious, but always get explicit permission. The vast majority of roommate complaints I have heard have honestly been related to food stealing. College students take their dorm food stashes very seriously. Keep your hands to your side of the room, and accept what your roommate chooses to share with you.

DO: Have a plan in place for when you invite your Pause dance partner back to the room for some one-on-one time. No one wants that surprise. Before you offer a smooth “come over to my place,” make sure your roommate with has somewhere to crash and plenty of notice. This is total common sense. It’s amazing how many people don’t do it. Just send a quick text.

DON’T: Assume your roommate relationship defines all of your future friendmaking. If you’re not clicking, it does not mean you will never make friends. If you’re best friends, it doesn’t mean it will stay that way. Your roommate is just one person on a very large campus, and you can be in as little or as much of each other’s lives as you want.

You have four years here to make key friendships, so don’t put too much emphasis on this one. Even a total roommate disaster will just be a funny story by next semester.

In reality, adjusting to living with a roommate is surprisingly easy. It’s nice to have a familiar face to vent to at the end of a stressful day and to help you wake up on time for your morning class. Roommate living requires a little common courtesy and respect, but soon it will be second nature to you.

Whether your roommate is your lifelong best friend or someone you just wave to at graduation, it is worth it to try to foster the best roommate relationship possible.

carcaterra@stolaf.edu

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