College Week: Roommates;

August 23, 2011

The next topic I feel that is important and appropriate to discuss is that of collegiate roommates and dorm neighbors. Who you room with in college is a big deal. This person is sharing your space, your bathroom, your sleeping space, your air, and maybe even your clothes every now and again.

We've all heard the horror stories from family, friends, and even new college friends about the worst of the worst roommates or neighbors around. We dread the thought of living with someone annoying, someone who eats all of your food, someone who hogs the tv, someone who's side of the room looks like the mall exploded (and not in a good way), who's generally messy and/or creepy, who stays up til one in the morning skyping, or who kicks you out on a frequent basis so she can hook-up.

The same thing goes as far as your new dorm neighbors. No one can really bare the thought of listening to how high the volume can go on your new neighbors insane stereo speakers as they party it up in the next room over, how passionately loud they scream their lover's name at three in the morning for the the third night in a row, or the constant bangs on the wall.

So, here are some general tips and tricks to having a better roommate/neighbor experience:


Start off on the right foot
Make sure to communicate with your roommate before you get to college! This one is so important especially if living with more than one person (like me). Establish who will bring what to the dorm. Decide what you'll share and what you will bring separately. Will you have a spending budget for community items like toilet paper and how much will you each contribute? Will you both bring a tv or share?

Also, make sure to talk about more than just dorm things (especially if you don't know the person well). Make an effort to really get to know/befriend them somewhat before you commit to fully living with them. Start off on a high note by communicating your roomie and all will go much more smoothly!

Put it in print
Sign a roommate agreement. On our floor, everyone is required to do so and I think it's a terrific idea. You and your roommate(s) should take about thirty minutes (or more) and go through the sticky and sometimes silly topics that seem to come up when living together. Don't be afraid to voice your opinion or ask for what you want. Also, be open to negotiating. Compromise will have to happen eventually. Discuss things such as study hours, sleeping/waking schedules, who'll keep the dorm clean, guests in the room or over night, what is and is not acceptable to borrow/share, and how you'll settle disputes if one arises.

Once you come to an agreement, sign it, and then refer back to it whenever necessary.

This is one is the most important. Be open, honest, and tolerant with your roommate. Remember that this is everyone's first time away from home more than likely and everyone is experiencing similar up and down emotions. Everyone is nervous and stressed about classes, missing their family and friends, and the daunting task of making new friends/getting involved.

It only took one week for me to get a little annoyed with my roommate. The little quirks started coming out and I was torn between craving my own space and craving her friendship. I didn't understand her. I hated the way she left clothes piled up on her side of the room. I hated the fact that she was making friends and plans and didn't invite me anywhere. I hated how she took up my fridge space. Most of all, I hated that she dissed sorority rush. These little quirks were mild annoyances and petty things to bring up. I'm sure I had annoying quirks of my own. Eventually though, my annoyance with her came to a head.

I became frustrated and freaked out momentarily. I basically told the whole world to just shut up and locked myself in our room. I felt hurt, alone, unsupported, friendless, stressed and bitchy. I needed a friend. I needed someone who got me. As I took a couple of minutes to vent to my best friend back home, I realized how completely ridiculous I was being. My roommate and I ended up texting about it later that night. We both vented our feelings on my freak-out and made amends. We're back on good terms now.

Remember: Your roommate doesn't have to be your best friend to have a successful roommate experience. You just have to enough respect, tolerance, and honesty toward your roommate in order to live with them and thrive.


Start off on the right foot
Again, this is important concerning neighbors as well. No one wants their neighbors to be those people you pass in the hall and give that awkward half smile to every time you leave for Honors Chem at 8:30 every morning. To avoid this awkwardness for the entire year make sure to introduce yourself early on (preferrably the first week you're both there). I don't care how awkward or nervous you feel randomly knocking on their door the first time, if you do this the awkwardness for the rest of the year will be surprisingly minimal. Be friendly and genuine. A good opening phrase would be something like this: "Hi! I'm insert name here. I'm your neighbor in insert room number and I just wanted to come by, introduce myself, and meet you."

To diffuse the situation even further, go with your roommates/suite mates and introduce yourself together. Bring along something sweet like cookies to finish it off. It's a really sweet gesture and the southern way to go about things. Our neighbors are guys which made meeting them even a little more nerve racking. We brought along Jenny's grandmother's cookies and introduced ourselves. It turned out to be surprisingly easy!

On the matter of loud sounds
Our guy neighbors are big fans of music. You know how I know? They like to keep their music running as loudly as possible until about midnight. I even gave them the nickname Dub Club, because all I could hear for hours one night was Dub Step vibrating against my wall. Do you know how hard it is to sleep with the echo of girly giggles from their female friends paired with their raucous music boom-boom-booming me out my nightly snooze?

Me, being too much of a wimp, couldn't bring myself to go over and ask them to turn it down. I don't want to be that neighbor. However, my good guy friend recently had the same issue a few dorms over. He got up, went over, asked them to turn it down, and they did. He made it sound so simple. My advice to you is to pick your battles. Is the sound something you can drown out with headphones? What are you doing that their loudness is disrupting (studying, trying to sleep, or lazying around on the couch)? What time is it? Is it worth it? No one wants to be the naggy neighbor, but sometimes the situation calls for it.

Handle it with respect and grace. For example, if you're trying to study, take your book/notebook with you. Knock on their door and say something along the lines of, "Hey, I'm really trying to study. This is due soon so if you could please turn that down a smidge, I'd really appreciate it." If they don't turn it down with the next ten or fifteen minutes you can pack up and study elsewhere or kindly go find an RA to help you out. I live right next to my RA, so I find it extremely helpful.

Do you have any crazy, funny, or awesome roommate/neighbor stories from college or apartment living? Did you live next to party animals or were you the party animals? Tell me all about it!

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  1. we were the party animals. but we kept it pretty clean. the people below us would bang on our floor with their broom!


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