What would you do if a very good friend of yours were to ask to move in with you? Usually, you would be alarmed. You wouldn’t know if it would work out, and you would worry about having any resulting tension spill over into your friendship.
How hard could it really be to share a room?
As minor a challenge as it may seem on its face, sharing a room with another person is no small matter. Yet, it’s exactly what you’re asked to do in college. In most cases, you are simply assigned a roommate at random.
It can be hard to get along with someone even when you like them. Everything from cleanliness habits to phone habits and sleep habits come with potential for annoyance. Sometimes, the annoyances may not even be as minor. The person whom you share a room with could have serious sensitivity issues. It can be a huge distraction to be asked to live with someone like this.
Certainly, it’s always an option to find a flat to share with other students, where everyone gets their own room (you can get all new details at Abbotts.co.uk for the current year if you’re interested). It makes sense to try to get along in the rooms that the college provides, though. You’ll save money, and you’ll be close to everything important — classes, the library and so on. If you’re to survive sharing a room, though, it’s important to go in with a plan right from the get-go.
Start by communicating
In many colleges, roommates are asked to sign roommate contracts. They agree on chores, study/sleep schedules, music listening time, guest policies and other matters of importance. If anyone violates the agreement, you take it up with management. Whatever areas the roommate contract doesn’t cover, or in the event that there is no contract, you do need to sit down and have a proper conversation on what both of you could consider acceptable.
Whether or not the college gives you an agreement, it would be good idea to put one down in writing on your own. It can be hard for anyone to violate an agreement that they’ve signed on to. It might seem hardball at first, but it isn’t. It’s vital if you are to get along. You don’t need to be demanding. You only need to insist on the things that are most important to you — say, a lights-off time and a policy for noise.
Bond as early as possible
A good, mutually respectful relationship can achieve things that not even a comprehensive agreement can — it can create a desire to cooperate. While the contract should take care of a few ground rules, you need to rely on a mutual friendship to do most of the heavy lifting for you. Break the ice with a little generosity — gifts, movie tickets or whatever else it takes to show goodwill. Rely on existing feelings of friendliness as far as possible
Learn tolerance and flexibility
When you’re young and only starting out, it can be hard to appreciate that other people are just different, and there’s nothing you can do about it. College is when you learn how it’s important to respect the way other people are. While you may find it impossible to stand how a roommate is overly friendly or loves to hang Goth images all over their wall, you want to simply let it slide. It’s all part of learning to be tolerant.
What you do want to do is to focus on how these habits may affect you in quantifiable ways. If there is noise when you’re trying to sleep or study, that’s something you could bring up. You need to be honest and fair about how exactly these qualities or preferences affect you, though, neither exaggerating nor mitigating facts.
As much as you may wish to focus on the areas that annoy you, it can make life far easier to train your attention on what you do like about your the way your roommate acts. Do you love how quick they are with their chores, their ability to dress well or their cool taste in music? Or do you appreciate how they’ve kept their end of the bargain in a few areas? Come out and say it. As long as you mean it, positivity can go a long way. It can also help you learn a few valuable life lessons about tolerance and acceptance.
Doris Hill is a student in her freshman year. A bit of a self-confessed geek, Doris enjoys spending her spare time reading classic novels and writing articles, these appear in student publications as well as around the web.