Being a good roommate is important. Your roommate can be your friend, your study partner, and your shoulder to cry on when you’re feeling homesick. You may not have a similar upbringing, have nothing in common and you may disagree on a lot of things, but being on bad terms with them will make your entire semester miserable. No one wants to feel like they are walking on egg shells in their own room.
The golden rule is one to live by when living with a roommate for the first time in college – treat others how you want to be treated. It’s that simple.
Rules on Sharing
Like most incoming freshman you may be used to having your own room. Having a roommate does not mean you have to share everything. You don’t even have to share anything if that’s what you agree on. Make sure you reach out to your roommate if you can before school even starts. You can find things out like who is bringing a TV or mini-fridge and see if you guys want to share. Don’t take it personally if your roommate is not interested in sharing their things with you. If you do want to use something of theirs you should always ask first and be willing to let them use something in return, or replace it if need be.
Rules on Personal Space
Respecting your roommates personal space is important. It is never okay to go through their things, even if you are great friends. You should try to avoid leaving things on their side of the room and clean up after yourself if you do need to use the entire to space to study with friends or to do anything else.
Rules on Having Guests
Having guests over to your dorm is expected. You will have friends, study partners, and maybe even a significant other. Make sure to communicate with your roommate about when you plan to have people over so they know what to expect. For example, if they know you are having a friend come over to hangout they can choose to study in the library rather than in the room. Of course there may be some spur of the moment guests, and again you just need to be respectful to your roommate. If you know they are in the room studying or trying to sleep, you should leave the room and hangout elsewhere.
Rules on Cleaning
Not everyone has the same idea of what clean in. Some people like things absolutely spotless and others can handle a mess for a few days. If you notice your roommate keeps things clean and organized, you should do your best to keep your side of the room tidy. This does not mean that you need to clean every day and make sure things are spotless, but tidy enough where you don’t have week old food out on your desk or dirty clothes on the floor.
Rules on Communication
Communication is key for a successful relationship with your roommate. If your roommate is continuously doing something that bothers you like staying up late listening to music, or leaving food out, just talk to them about it. Chances are they don’t realize that what they are doing is a problem. If your roommate approaches you with a problem they are having make sure to listen, don’t get defensive, and figure out a solution together.
Even if you follow all of these rules, sometimes you just get stuck with a bad roommate and it seems like no matter what you do there is just no reasoning with this person. Luckily you can talk to your RA and request to be reassigned a new roommate.