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9 Ways to Create a Positive Roommate Experience 

Two girls sitting in Buena Vida East talking in their room.

There are a lot of new experiences you encounter as you make the transition into college life. One of the biggest changes you will face is learning how to live with a roommate. Learning to live with someone can be scary, especially if you may not even know them beforehand. Whether your roommate is completely new to you, or someone you have known your whole life, here are 10 ways to create a positive roommate experience.  

1. Make an effort to be friends

Before moving into your dorm, you should already know who your roommate is by checking MyPortal (JICS). Reach out to him or her and introduce yourself if you don’t already know each other. It is important to have an idea of what your roommate is like before moving in. Ask them about themselves, what they like, what kind of activities they’re involved in, how they ended up at SEU or anything else you might want to know. Once you get to campus, maybe attend a Welcome Week event together, or head to Portico for coffee to get to know them in a casual setting. Don’t force a friendship to happen, but let them know you can be a friend to them if they need one! 

2. Keep the lines of communication open 

Communication is the key to any good relationship, and this goes for roommate relationships as well. As roommates, you are bound to get into some kind of disagreement at least once. The key to avoiding having this potential conflict become a larger issue is to be honest with one another. Let them know if something is bothering you. Don’t be afraid of confrontation –  it’s better to be transparent with one another in a healthy way rather than being passive-aggressive. It is also important to communicate about other things, such as “house” rules.  For example, if you want to have guests over you should check with your roommate first. This just shows that you respect them and their space. 

3. Be willing to compromise

Sharing a space with someone means that things are not always going to go the way you want it to. Sometimes you have to meet in the middle. For example, if you want the room arranged a certain way, let your roommate pick which side of the room they want. It’s little things like this that could lead to bigger issues, but if you are willing to work something out, everyone can be happy!

4. Keep shared spaces clean

Part of being a young adult is learning to look after yourself. Everyone has a different idea of what “clean” is —some people are always neat and tidy, and others are the exact opposite. But no matter what you consider yourself to be in terms of cleanliness, always keep the shared areas clean. This includes the bathroom and common room if you have one. Nothing is more annoying than having to deal with someone’s toothpaste clogging the sink or their belongings left on the floor. No one likes having to pick up after someone else. 

5. Respect each other’s belongings

A perk to having roommates is being able to borrow and share things. Whether it’s using their coffee maker, or borrowing a sweater, always ask before you use it. Don’t abuse this privilege. Leave things better than you found them and treat their stuff as you would your own. Also, be sure to let them know what they are free to use of your own things. (It wouldn’t be fair for you to use their stuff if they can’t use yours!)

6. Follow the Golden Rule

Everyone knows the Golden Rule, treat others how you would want to be treated. Practice this with your roommate. For example, if you would want them to respect your quiet time, do the same for them. Following this rule shows that you are a thoughtful individual and care about them as more than just a roommate.

7. Be considerate 

The best roommates are ones who are considerate. This ties into the Golden Rule. Sometimes it can be hard living with someone, but if you want your relationship to thrive, think of their needs as just as important as your own. If they are still sleeping while you are getting ready, try your best to stay quiet, or put out your outfit the night before so you don’t disturb their sleep. If they want it to be quiet in the room, use headphones or leave the dorm and head to a shared study space for a while. It’s a simple concept that can lead to a great relationship with your roommate. 

8. Know each other’s schedules

This might sound like a silly tip, but knowing each other’s schedules actually comes in handy. If you know what time your roommate usually goes to bed or gets up in the morning, it can be a lot easier to plan out your day. It is also beneficial when studying. If you do best studying on your own with no distractions, it might be best to do it when you know your roommate is in class. Or use this time to get in a nap or catch up on your favorite show on Netflix. It can also be helpful just for convenience; if you happen to have a class together, you can meet up beforehand or afterward to discuss that day’s lesson or compare notes. Likewise, knowing each other’s schedule is beneficial when you need time alone. It is important that you share the time in your dorm room. It’s also your roommates’ space, so they deserve some alone time too. Let them have some me-time every so often by leaving the room for a bit. It’s also good for you to get out so you don’t feel confined to your room. 

9. Share purchases 

It’s a good idea for you and your roommate to figure out who’s bringing what before moving in. Whether you decided to bring the fridge, and they agreed to bring the microwave, it’s good to share these purchases. This also goes for things such as paper towels or hand soap. Take turns buying these little things so one person isn’t left with the bill.

Living with roommates can get messy at times, but if you use these tips you might end up being good friends with them! Take it from me, I’ve lived with some of my best friends the past few years. Sure, we’ve had our fair share of differences, but we learned how to get through it and communicate. You, too, can have a positive roommate experience! Just remember to be open and honest and treat them with the same respect that you would want to receive.

by Maggie Miller, SEU Student 

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