So, most of us here on the Vanderbilt Commons are about three-and-a-half weeks into this strange experience that is referred to as the “Freshman Year of College.” (Cue dramatic music.) Seriously though, college can be a confusing and stressful time for us first-years, and a large component of this new experience is our roommate(s). Thus on the behest of the fine folks at My Commons Life, I bring you a quick survival good to help you navigate dealing with whomever you happen to be sharing a room.
1. Like, Actually Talk to Your Roommate
Alright, alright, I know what you are thinking, you already do that, and actually have had several movie-worthy dialogues with your roommate, but it bears emphasizing that talking on a consistent basis with your roommate about whatever, even the trivial, is the best way to get comfortable with each other and develop a better appreciation for each other’s viewpoints. You will truly be surprised (hopefully pleasantly) about what is not immediately obvious about your roommate if you do make habit of regular conversation. Crazy experiences, outside-the-box viewpoints, odd skills, who knows what you might learn? Besides, what is a more convenient way to relax than a nice little chat, roomie to roomie?
2. Communicate, communicate, COMMUNICATE!
This is a close relative to the point made above. In organizing the part of your life that revolves around your own room, a seriously key tool is communicating with your roommate about several basic points. Stuff in the nature of likes and dislikes, schedules, and who gets to put what where, should be the sort of roommate knowledge on which you have a pretty good grasp. The flipside of this is to make sure you assert yourself to a reasonable degree, and that the other guy knows full well how you roll. After all, be nice to your roommate, but make sure to be nice to yourself as well.
3. Ask Before You…
Use his lotion, borrow her charger, or wear that suave, cool tie, bracelet, or whatever on a big night out. If fact, just ask. You may or may not have had this experience, but nobody appreciates a borrower who does not use those magic words, “May I please…” Building up trust is a big thing when living with somebody who is still a relative stranger, and the best way to do this is to be completely above the table when it comes to using your roommate’s belongings. Even if it is some insignificant, like a cruddy little No. 2 pencil, integrity is key, and nothing is worse than the feeling that you can’t trust your roommate you bought with your hard-earned money, (or, more likely, the hard-earned money of your parents,) or that your roommate does not trust you.
4. Do Your Part to Not Put the Welcome Mat out for the Cockroaches
Nobody, at least we hope nobody, likes pests, especially those that are of the animal type, although I am sure we all know human pests to which we wish we could take a jumbo-sized flyswatter. They are not the issue in this piece of advice though. Cleanliness is one of the most effective lines of defense against pests, and one of the most effective ways of going after them. This being said, I would highly suggest making an effort to destroy any dirtiness that exists within your section of the room. Now, keeping your own area is, or should be, simple enough, and this not the place to go into proper sweeping technique. Call your mom for that.
On the issue of shared area and your roommate’s territory, it is necessary to say some words. Mainly, you do have a right to a roommate who makes a reasonable effort to not have their area look like a pigsty. What goes on in his section could have an effect on your section as well, especially when it comes to unwanted critters going about the room. Talk to the person, be nice, but be firm on this point. If your roommate explodes on this issue, or just refuses to keep his part of the room under control, take it up with your RA. When it comes to shared space, try to get your roomie to do his part, but it is better to take the initiative and actually just go and take out the trash than have a long, tiresome, and pointless debate with your roommate about the whole responsibility thing. For further helpful tips on this subject, seriously, call your folks.
5. Be Randomly Nice to Your Roommate
This fifth point is exactly what it sounds like! Think of this as a way of making up for all the times you were a lousy roommate. Yes, no matter how awesome you really may be, I am sure you have already had your moments of less-than-stellar roommateness. When it comes to this, anything goes, as long as whatever you are doing actually fits the definition of nice. For example, get the roomie a candy bar or a bottle of juice during your Munchie Mart run, or give him a thoughtful complement, rather than something horribly generic and boring like, “you are so cool.” (Way overused.) These little things really can make the difference in the relationship with your roommate, and could seal the deal on an awesome friendship that will never die. (Dramatic, I know.)
And that’s it for the definitive list of ways to be the roommate that everybody wishes they had! Questions? Comments? Complains? Threats? Put ‘em below! Also, thanks to our own Rishi Mallipeddi, and Gabriel Zharov of North’s Floor 3 for illustrating how to be (or not be) an awesome roommate!