Your college roommate can often be either the best or worst aspect of your freshman year experience. Unfortunately, roommate horror stories are more common than you might expect. Adjusting from living with family and usually having much more personal space to living in a small dorm room with someone you most likely don’t know as well is hard!
However, strong communication is often what determines whether your experience with a roommate will be positive or negative. Because of this, it’s crucially important to establish good communication from the start.
When you move into the dorm, it’s important to be clear about what you expect from the beginning. Often things that seem obvious or natural to you like keeping dirty clothes out of the bathroom or asking before sharing food might not be a norm for someone brought up in a different household. However, if you make it clear what you expect, you’ll avoid the frustration and anger that can emerge from misunderstandings.
For example, if you make it clear that you’re fine with sharing things as long as they ask first at the beginning of the year, you won’t have to worry about the frustration that might come from waking up before an early class to find your last bagel had already been eaten without permission.
It can be extremely awkward to try to establish rules after a norm has already been established. If they’ve been using your dishes all year, and five months in you tell them to stop, they will most likely be more hurt and confused than if you tell them you’d prefer for them not to use your dishes when you move in.
Because of this, it might be helpful to write down your expectations before you move in and then set up a time to sit down with your roommate at the beginning of the year to give you both the opportunity to voice requests and make sure you each have a full understanding of each other’s expectations. Areas you should make sure to cover are the sharing of food, clothing, appliances, cleaning, and when it’s okay to have guests over and listen to music or television without headphones.
While you may not want to intimidate your roommate by a having a list of expectations at the beginning, they will most likely completely understand and be relieved you opened up the lines of open and honest communication.
It’s better to establish rules at the beginning than having to deal with your roommate blasting music on their speaker at 12 am while you’re trying to study for finals!