Roommates: How does this even work?

Roommate relationships are the first step to brand new college friends. Photo by Lauren Hough.


Roommates are a major part of the college experience and can be an exciting aspect for many incoming students. For others, it can be the most nerve-wracking and stressful thing they encounter — I know I was stressed about it. I honestly cannot count how many panic attacks and cry sessions I had before coming here. Never meeting someone before and being thrust into a small room where you have to share your life and living space with them is genuinely terrifying. 

You are going to have a lot of questions and you are going to have a lot of fears. All of it is normal, and all the hesitation and confusion are completely valid in every way. 

Almost every single college student goes through the same emotions and feelings, even non-college folk too.  The main thing to remember is that you are not alone. While that may be comforting for some, for others it may not change anything. This is why I wanted to bestow upon you some rules and guidelines which you can use to respect and be comfortable with your roommate.

1) Communication

You know the saying — communication is key. That applies everywhere in life and especially here. If you do not communicate with each other, then how are you supposed to live your life peacefully together? 

You have to communicate both what makes you uncomfortable and what the other person can do to make you feel more comfortable. You also have to communicate mutual agreements — things like room temperature, guests, lights out and phone calls. I get it, you miss home — you miss your friends and your family. Trust me, I have talked to my friends and family more than I ever have since coming to college.   

Missing your home is completely normal and wanting to communicate with those loved ones is a vital part of being away from them. However, phone calls bring very loud conversations that nobody else wants to hear. I understand that you miss your mom, but we do not want to listen to her reminding you to feed yourself something other than chips and soda. 

Another thing to communicate about is shared things: what is communal, and what is your own? You do not want people touching your precious Goldfish because you spent your hard-earned money — or your parents’ — on getting the specific big box you really love. 

Aidan Geleott, a sophomore secondary education major, feels that boundaries need to be set for shared spaces.  

“Especially living in Fairview … you’re going to have shared kitchen space,” Geleott said. “Don’t just come into it and expect that everyone’s going to have their own system figured out. Talk about what you’re going to do with your food. My roommates and I [agreed] everything that we leave in the kitchen is communal and up for grabs.”

2) Be clean 

You have heard it your entire life and you are going to hear it again: clean up after yourself. You have a laundry basket for a reason, so keep your dirty clothes in there. Your socks do not belong on the floor, and neither do those sweaty T-shirts. 

You both have your side of the room and your own closet, so make sure you keep your things in your assigned and designated areas. You both can agree upon a cleaning schedule as well. Agree how often you should clean mirrors or windows, sweep the floors and take out the trash. A clean environment is a healthy environment, and everyone is more comfortable and happy when their space is nice and not a breeding ground for bacteria.

Cullen McTigue, a first-year political science major, feels that messiness is a major roommate issue. 

“Messy in general [is a red flag],” McTigue said. “If they’re messy on their side, [it seems] more understandable, but if they start encroaching on your space, then yes [there is an issue].”

I personally agree with McTigue’s point, and I think most people would agree about cleanliness in the first place. The bottom line is you should just be considerate. Stop to think if what you are doing is going to bother the other person and if it will move into their own space. 

3) Be considerate

One word that really comes to mind when I think of respecting your roommate: considerate. It ties everything together with the idea of respecting a roommate. Being considerate is not that difficult. You do it almost every day. Do not forget it when you are living with someone! Everything I have talked about and anything involving living with a roommate has a common denominator of consideration.

Not everybody is going to be close friends with their roommate, but that is okay. No matter who they are and what they are to you, they are still somebody you have to live with and share your space with. The least you can do is be considerate! Do not be selfish, it may be your room but it is theirs as well.

Make yourself easy to talk to, even if you do not like talking. Ensure that you have implanted the idea in your roommate’s head that you will be kind and — here’s that word again — considerate! Having someone easygoing and nice is optimal in any situation. Even if that is not your usual style, make it one. It is very easy to simply be kind and ensure you are looking out for the best interest of the other person and yourself as well. 

First-year accounting major Sam Fingard agrees that being considerate is one of the most vital attributes a roommate can have. 

“I think the most important [trait is being] easy to get along with,” Fingard said. “If they’re really stubborn, that’s not a good trait. We should be able to agree [on the compromise].”

I know this is uncharted territory for the majority of people, but it does not have to be an awful experience. Despite the difficulties you may encounter, having a built-in pal to be there for assistance and companionship is kind of nice. You may feel very alone while you are here — believe me, I feel it too — but you can always keep in mind that there is somebody in your room that can help you feel a little less lonely. Keep being considerate, keep a clear line of communication, keep clean and, just as your mother probably reminded you, eat healthy!


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