10 useful tips for living with a new roommate

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The school year is starting up again soon, and living situations are about to get preeeeetty awkward if you’re going to be living with a new roommate. If you’re heading into dorm life, your roomie was probably assigned to you (and you stalked her relentlessly via Facebook ever since you learned her name). Or maybe you’re heading into a new apartment where, as a last resort, you chose that one dude from some Housing page who swore he’s totally normal, chill and going to be an awesome roommate (you don’t really believe him, though). Whatever the situation is, you’re looking at a year either with a great roommate you click with or a roommate you want to personally punch and watch crumble to the ground as you cackle over his or her curled up body while shouting obscenities into the air …

So the Clog’s going to give you basic tips on how to make things easy on you and your roommate. If you’re going to be in a triple dorm room or co-op, etc., then the same tips apply, just to more people. Most of these revolve around common sense, but reading them helps. Reminders never hurt anyone! And if even by the end of reading these tips, applying them to your roommate doesn’t work, then just link it to her via Facebook chat and point out the numbers that she seriously needs to pay attention to. That’s what we call “being indirectly direct.”

  1. Be clear about room arrangements before stuff is put into place. Look, if you’re going to claim all the space YOU want and expect your roommate to deal with the remaining space, things will get tense. Trust us. It’s easy to clarify who gets what bunk/table/side of the room/closet, etc., early on. So chat before moving in to make a compromise that suits both. There won’t be any surprises, so everyone will move in happy.
  2. Respect your roommate’s shit. I mean, that’s the most basic of common sense right? Seriously though, don’t go nabbing your roommate’s tight, frat-party-worthy skirt one wild Friday evening without her approval. Or don’t steal your roommate’s soccer ball so you can kick it around at Underhill while he’s out studying at Cafe Strada. Chances are when you return with their things — or even worse, if an entire cup of beer spilled over the skirt or the soccer ball that was pristine got grassy and battered — your roommate will be pissed off and never trust you again. Or never like you again. Don’t start off like that.
  3. Don’t be so possessive about your shit off-the-bat. We say give your roommates the benefit of the doubt and trust that they aren’t going to go about stealing your frozen pasta from Bear Market or that one tomato from the fridge — unless it actually happens. Then you go and politely ask if they know where it went and proceed calmly from there. Otherwise, chill. Being overly protective about your stuff can make things awkward. Label things with a Sharpie if you and your roommate have the exact same thing. Or just remember what’s yours. We also suggest you don’t use duct tape to flawlessly divide the refrigerator up equally or something else extreme like that.
  4. Keep your mess on your side of the room. It’d be better if you consciously tried to be clean, period. However, if your lifelong habit is tossing your clothes on the floor or letting the paper ball you tried to toss into the waste bin and missed just lie there, then make sure the clothes are on YOUR side and that the paper ball is on YOUR side (but we advise you just get up and throw it away). Your neat-freak roommate can’t say anything if your glorious messiness is spawning on your side of the room, unless your month-old dirty laundry or week-long unwashed dishes are stinking up the whole room.
  5. Take the first step in taking out the trash or vacuuming the carpet. Or even washing your roommate’s dishes, for God’s sake. “What? Impossible to think about … never … ridiculous … won’t think of it.”  Yeah, just try it. This can melt your cynical, suspicious roommate about you not being willing to do your part and get rolling general KINDNESS. Also, you can’t be accused of never contributing. If you end up doing all the work, though, establish a schedule (although we know that might make you worry about seeming obsessive, but do it anyway) and everyone will be responsible for doing his or her part in keeping the place clean.
  6. Ask what the sleeping schedule looks like. Nocturnal and sleeps in late? Or early sleeper, early riser? Go into specifics if necessary: sensitive to noise, sleeps like the dead, prefers all lights off when going to bed (but come on, don’t be picky about desk lights because one person might be a late-night worker). This will ensure no one wakes up cranky like a demon from hell and that everyone hopefully gets his or her expected amount of sleep. Then again, be flexible.
  7. TALK TO THE PERSON. Invite to stuff and get to know him or her. Things may be awkward at first, but letting the other person know you don’t immediately hate him or her by hanging out will probably be beneficial to your relationship.
  8. But, realistically, don’t expect you two will become best friends either.
  9. Watch who you bring into the room and when. No one likes having to come home at 11 p.m. after hours of studying, only to realize loud moans and a creaking bed frame are emanating from the room. Sexiling is frowned upon, everyone. Likewise, it might be irritating if you and a close friend are talking loudly about this or that while your roommate is trying to study for a midterm. Consider where you are, and think of other options, like going to the dorm lounge or to a nearby cafe or maybe the other person’s place that is less … occupied.
  10. Finally, chores. Someone’s got to do them. You can establish a routine with roommates if they’re willing to compromise. If nothing is set, however, and the trash bin starts overfilling yet no one’s taking it out, or there’s no more toilet paper but no one’s buying, or the hand soap has run out, then address it and get it over and done with. It’s very likely your roommate will respond positively and you two can work things out.

Good luck, and above all, be flexible and willing to compromise. College is one of the times when you have to live with someone else (maybe a complete stranger at the start) in the same room as well as have the chance to make a potentially great friendship happen. Make the most of it.

With this, here’s an early “Welcome Back to School” from the Clog!

Image Source: Matt Radrick under Creative Commons

Contact Eunice Choi at [email protected]