Moving to college was an exciting and liberating experience.
I was going to meet new friends, take cool classes, and join all sorts of clubs. But there was one thing looming in the back of my mind: my random roommate.
What would she be like? Would we get along and have similar interests? Or would we barely talk and despise each other’s presence?
Well, long story short, I had no reason to be scared. My random roommate, Sammy Jo, became one of my best friends by the end of the first day. And this friendship (somehow) continued through varying sleep schedules, one or two boyfriends, and a room that perpetually smelled like Ramen noodles. For this, I give a lot of credit to a little thing we had to fill out called a roommate agreement.
Now, we laughed when making it. Some of the stuff you have to discuss seems pretty common sense. But folks, it’s important. It helped us establish just what we were expecting out of our living experience and how we could make sure our room stayed a happy place.
Here are some solid reasons why these little forms actually do matter:
They’re a great way to get to know your roommate
Do you like to have a fan on when you sleep? What music do you listen to? Are you overly organized or does your room usually resemble, as my mother likes to call it, “a disaster zone”? All these questions let you know your roommate a little better so you can know what to expect from your living situation. If they like heavy metal and you prefer classical music, maybe you can agree on using headphones. Or maybe you both love some random, obscure artist and can jam to them together. Whether you have similar interests or not, it’s important to learn about each other and take note of how that might affect your living space.
Communication, communication, communication
This is hands down the most important thing to work on when living with a roommate. You have to communicate any problems or concerns you have because bottling them up will result in hurt feelings and unresolved issues. Luckily for me, Sammy Jo was a communication major, so we had no problem talking about things. Your roommate agreement is a way to discuss what issues might come up throughout the year and talk about how you might handle them. It’s also good to know what style of communication works best for you and your roommate. Are you more upfront with things or do you actively avoid confrontation? How would you like to discuss issues? Communicating these desires is essential when filling out your roommate agreement, and it makes talking about disagreements much easier later on.
Little things become big things
At the start of the year, you may think it won’t matter what temperature you have the room or how often you clean your desk. But by midsemester, a lack of consensus on these little things may create some uncomfortable tension. Without knowing each other’s preferences, it’s impossible to know what your roommate is thinking. So communicating expectations right away helps prevent them from becoming a problem.
After you fill out your roommate agreement, put it somewhere you both can see it. It serves as a good reminder throughout the year and a reference point when a problem does arise. Use the roommate agreement discussion to get to know your roommate a little better, and remember to communicate throughout the year. Discuss your preferences and expectations so little issues don’t become big sources of tension. Be honest with your roommate! This is the time to say exactly how you feel and what you’d like, but still be willing to compromise.
Soon you’ll find that living with someone else, even if you’ve never met them before, won’t be the main thing on your mind. College is a time of exploration, and I promise you’ll see and learn new things every day. If you and your roommate aren’t best friends, don’t worry. You don’t have to be. The main thing to focus on is creating a comfortable and welcoming living environment for yourselves – and using your roommate agreement to do so!
Bailey Tillman '18 studies multimedia journalism, Spanish and film studies at Concordia.