When I look back at my first year at UCSB, my mind is quickly drawn to the experiences I had with my roommates. Going into it, I was really unsure about the whole situation, since I had never really lived with “roommates.” My family was already used to my quirks and obnoxiousness, and I wasn’t sure if I would have to censor myself in order to live with…strangers. *gasp* I was certain that my new roomies would be the most judgmental cool kids in the world, and I didn’t want to seem like I was a square bear, but I also didn’t want to live in a grungy mess or have a bunch of randoms raging in my room.
Here are a few things I learned about picking and living with roommates while in college:
- Don’t “Lie” During Roommate Matching
Sometimes we sprinkle in a few white lies or omit some of the less becoming details of our life experiences when we are put in social situations outside our comfort zone. We don’t want other people to think less of us, and we are exceptionally vulnerable to the perceived judgment of others when we come to a place where we have to jumpstart an entirely new social life. The only problem with trying to please other people when picking roommates is that literally, all your dirty laundry will be aired after the honeymoon phase is over. If you like to stay up late, live in an organized pigsty, and you have certain…shall we say…“vices,” don’t make it a surprise for your roommate who likes to go to bed at 9:30pm, has a place for everything and everything in it place, and who dislikes drinking and smoking. Maybe you guys would be great friends at school or in a club, but mortal enemies as roommates.
- Best Friends, Best Roommates?
One thing that I personally would recommend you do is really take some time to consider living with someone who is already your best friend. Countless times, I have seen residents decide to room with their current “BFF” because they think that this will ensure they will have a good first year at school. Not always true. Being a roommate with someone is an entirely different experience from hanging out with your best bro or gal pal, and many times these friendships cannot weather the storm of what it takes to live with someone. Former BFF’s become mortal enemies after nine months of constant togetherness.My recommendation is that if you and a friend are going to the same college, you already know that they will be your “safety friend” in terms of having someone to hang out with, so why not try living with a new person? You can both branch out and meet new people to add to your friend circle. And who knows? The new roommates you live with may want to live with you and your best friend the following year when you move in to an apartment together.
- Be True to Yourself and Say Something
If you have a problem with your roommate, whether they are playing their music too loud or you’re tired of them bringing their friends/significant other over all day every day, why not tell them? There’s nothing worse than festering feelings from unresolved conflict. If you don’t say anything, don’t think that your roommate is going to magically come to the realization on their own that you are upset. Quite the opposite! They are going to assume it’s okay to continue doing what they’re doing, and that behavior has the potential of getting worse or getting on your nerves even more.
I would suggest trying to present the subject in a positive way. No one likes being told what to do. Just tell them in a firm, yet polite way, that a certain behavior is troubling you. Don’t forget: “please” and “thank you” go a long way.
- Think of Ways to be a Considerate Roommate.
Maybe you’re thinking, “I melt faces with the volume of my sound system and I have my gf/bf over every day and my roommate never says anything. We’re cool.” Maybe your roommate and suitemates really are okay with you playing your music loud and having people over. The thing you have to remember though is the old saying: too much of a good thing can be bad. It doesn’t hurt to plug your headphones in and tell your friends you’ll see them this weekend. Let your roommates “miss” your friends and taste in music for a while.
By being purposeful in your roommate selection, learning to communicate and being a little flexible, your chances of having a better-than-average roommate experience are high. You never know, you may just make a friend for life!