How to Talk to your Roommate for the First Time

Roomates goofing around and having fun

Sometime in July, you’ll be told who your roommate is. Whether you have chosen to live with someone you knew before or have picked someone random, it is important to have clear and frequent communication with your roommate. Here are some tips for how to make sure moving in and getting to know each other goes well!

  • Make contact! When you find out who your roommate is, Residential Programs and Services will give you an email address that you can contact. While you will be tempted to look up your roommate on Facebook, try to make contact through email first.  When you look someone up online, there’s no way to know if you are looking at the right person. Also, looking at a profile might cause you to have some preconceived notions or other assumptions about your roommate which may or may not be true.  Likewise, this summer might be a good time to look at your social media profiles and make sure there’s nothing on your site that might misrepresent you.
  • Introduce yourself! Talk to your roommate about yourself and what you are interested in, and you might be very surprised. My roommate freshman year and I both bonded quickly over our love of Harry Potter before school started, and we went on to be great friends. She and I had a Skype conversation before we met in August.
  • Clearly talk about who is going to bring what things for the room.  It’s good to keep in mind that your roommate might have older siblings who have also gone through the college process, so he or she might already have a lot of the items you will need. You should figure out who is bringing things like a mini-fridge and microwave, and you may want to bring a television or game console. Keep in mind that if your roommate is traveling from a far distance or is an international student, it may be difficult for them to bring larger items. If this is the case, you might want to rent the items from IU and split the cost.
  • Decide how you want to set up your beds, since you’ll need to notify IU that you want to do that before you arrive.  Some buildings have the beds pre-bunked for you, others don’t; look at the specifics for where you are living.  I personally recommend bunking or lofting your beds so you have more floor space. If you don’t bunk the beds, you should plan on bringing bed risers to store items under the bed.
  • Tell your roommate when you plan on moving in.  Ideally, only one person should be moving in at a time—with parents, siblings, and stuff, it can be hard to move around if everyone’s crammed into a small room at the same time.  You and your roommate will get the same amount of closet, desk, and other space, so you don’t need to worry about that.

Following these tips will help you have a successful first interaction and move in with your roommate. The most important pieces of advice I can give are to communicate often and to be patient. Moving in is a stressful time for everyone, and with a little planning, your roommate can help make it a better experience.

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