Roommates! The DOs and DON'Ts of living with someone new!

Well...it's that time of year again! Thousands of new students are getting their fall housing assignments. Some are elated! Their room isn't on the very top floor and, judging by their random roommate's Facebook page, they won't be living with a psycho! Others aren't worried about their roommate situation at all because they have known who their college roommate would be since the two of them met way back in the second grade lunch line. But there are definitely some of you out there who are very nervous about meeting your roommate for the first time and having to live with a total stranger. It is perfectly understandable to be nervous about the living arrangements during your first year of college.

I've had a roommate for the past two years. In that time, I've learned some definite DOs and DON'Ts of living with someone else. Hopefully this list will help you and your roommate have a blissful year together! If not blissful, then at least peaceful. Seriously though, living with someone is FUN! Honestly! Let's get started!

DO

Do get in touch with your roommate before move-in day. Find them on Facebook, text/call them, whatever it is, it's important to touch base with them before you get to campus. This not only gives you all a chance to decide who is bringing the TV and mini-fridge, but also helps you get to know each other a little before you move in together. When I had a random roommate my freshman year, we talked on the phone a couple times over the summer. We learned about our families, what the other person did in high school, our majors, what we want to do in college...all that good stuff. If, for some reason, you can't seem to get in touch with your roommate (maybe they are an international student) don't stress. There will be plenty of time to get to know them during Welcome Week.

DO get used to compromise. I'm not just saying "be open" to compromise or "be willing" to do it. You are going to have to compromise so just get used to that idea. Everyone is different so everyone has their own unique way of doing things. Some people like music when they study. Other people have to have complete silence. Some people like studying at 3am. That's when other people like to sleep. This reminds me of another piece of advice I would like to share...

DO talk about it if it bothers you. Freshman year I had 8am classes every day (yeah I know...feel sorry for me) so I needed to get some sleep. But one night, my roommate was up studying really late and I didn't get much sleep at all. So the next day I told her about it and we agreed that if either one of us needed to be up past midnight and the other person wanted to go to bed, we would leave the room and study somewhere else. That worked for us. It is important to always talk these things out. Don't just let it build up because that is when you have situations where one person is mad and the other person has no idea why.

DON'T

DON'T feel like you and your roommate have to be best friends. A lot of people go into it with the expectation that they and their roommate will be inseparable. That definitely is the case for some people but certainly not everyone. You all just have to get along well enough to live in the same space for a year. That's all.

DON'T assume anything. You know what they say about assuming things...that's right! It makes you look stupid sometimes. Don't assume that it is ok if your significant other spends the night. Don't assume that it is ok if you eat your roommate's entire box of Gold Fish. These are the things that you and your roommate need to talk about upfront. Thankfully, your RA will be giving you and your roommate a contract to sign called the "Roommate Agreement." This will help get those sometimes awkward questions answered. Before classes even start, you and your roommate will fill this out, sign it, and turn it back in to the RA who will hold onto it for you all year. This is just in case any sort of disagreement comes up. You will use that contract to help start the conversation and come to a happy agreement!

DON'T sweat the small stuff. Pick your battles. Not everything is worth having a conversation about. If, say, the dishes aren't done and it's their turn to do it...you might be really annoyed but this probably isn't something that is worth fighting over. A good principal to live by would be the 24-hour-rule. Leave the situation alone for 24 hours. If, after that time, you are still thinking about it and it really does bother you then have a conversation about it. But if it is something that you can and probably should let go, then just let it go. 

In my first two years at IU, I had two types of roommate situations. Freshman year, I was placed with a random roommate. We probably had one of the best relationships you could possibly have with a random roommate. We complimented each other very well. She was a extremely laid back and I was...well, not as laid back. Some may say "neat freak" but I prefer "organized." Hindsight being what it is, I probably would say I was the one that was harder to live with. Usually up at the crack of dawn, busy all the time, talkative, "organized."  I picture her telling people how her roommate just wouldn't ever sit still. But then when I needed some chill time she was always there to listen or watch a movie with me or whatever.

 Sophomore year I lived in the residence halls again. This time with a really good friend of mine. I was psyched but also a little nervous about it. I had heard so many horror stories about best friends that roomed together and then ended up hating each other and I definitely didn't want that to happen with us. All of the things I mentioned above came into play in this situation too. We didn't hate each other by the end of the year. In fact, I think we got even closer. It was like a sleepover every night! Cheesy...I know. But true!

One last piece of advice to share with you. DON'T think that you are always right and the other person is always wrong. DO try to see things from their perspective. If you find yourself in a disagreement, try to see both sides of the situation. No one is perfect. When you make a mistake, own up to it. Everyone is different so remember that you will not agree with your roommate on everything but hopefully you all will be able to work through that. Talk stuff out. Be ready to compromise. And know when to let it go. You will be just fine!

As always, if you have any questions or something you would like to share, just let me know! I love hearing from you all! Hope your summer break is awesome and I'll see you in the fall!

About The Author
Linden SpaldingSpeech and Hearing Sciences Class of 2014

Hi there! My name is Linden Spalding. I am a Senior from New Albany, IN and I am studying Speech and Hearing Sciences here at Indiana University. I work as a Resident Assistant in one of the residence halls on campus and I absolutely love my job! I also serve as a Hoosier Guide which is part of our Student Ambassador program through the Office of Admissions. I show prospective students and their families the campus and tell them why I love IU! This summer, I also worked for New Student Orientation as a Student Coordinator. It was so much fun working with the OTeam and getting to meet all the new students and their families! Please feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions or comments. I would love to hear from you! Go Hoosiers!