Campus Life

 

Living with a roomate

Roommates Need to Talk to Each Other...

Have you ever tried to imagine what your college roommate will be like? We would all like to think that we would become best friends with our roommate. The fact is, however, that the two of you may be very different, and it may take lots of work to develop a good relationship.

Often it is hard to talk about differences when you and your roommate are first trying to get to know each other. If you intend to live together happily, you need to realize and resolve your personal differences early in the relationship.

The first step is to begin talking about the things you value and about your lifestyles, so that you can find out where your differences exist. An easy way to discover more about your roommate is to talk about your background. Now, share with each other the following things:

  •  What I would like to tell you about my family...
  • My birthday is...
  • My friends back home are...
  • I describe my neighborhood and the people who live there as...
  • The reasons I came to Thomas are...
  • What I was most involved in (high school & community activities)...
  • The funniest thing that ever happened to me...
  • What I'll miss most being away from home... 

Share With Your Roommate Your Personal Preferences, Habits, and Characteristics...

After sharing some background information, you and your roommate should begin to get to know each other and feel more comfortable about discussing more sensitive subjects. Take some time to talk about the things you like and dislike, and those things about you that he or she needs to know.

Now, sit down with your roommate and discuss each of these items, one by one. Be sure to listen to your roommate carefully. These are sometimes tough things to discuss; and if you don't remember what he or she says about a lot of these issues, your roommate could decide you really weren't interested anyway.

  • The kind of music I enjoy is...
  • The way I feel about dating is...
  • The kind of grades I would like to get this semester are...
  • The amount of sleep I like to get is...
  • The foods I like best are...
  • Can I sleep with the lights on, or do I need total darkness...
  • Do I study with music playing in the background...
  • I feel about drugs and alcohol...
  • The things I do for fun are...
  • What I like to do when I need some exercise is...
  • The things I like to do in my spare time are...
  • Some things I like to spend money on are...
  • The way I feel about religion is...
  • The way I feel about loaning things is...
  • The way I would like to decorate our room is...

How I React When...

An important part of understanding your roommate is learning how he or she "feels" in certain situations. Roommates who enjoy living with each other typically "read" each others' feelings fairly accurately, and are able to respond to one another accordingly.

If you can share your feelings and reactions in some of the following situations, you will be ahead of the game in understanding and empathizing with your roommate during the ups and downs of college life. Now, take some time to talk about these items:

  • The way I react when I'm happy is...
  • The way I react when working under pressure is...
  • When I'm down or upset I act like...
  • When I'd rather be alone I...
  • The way I react when I meet people for the first time is...
  • Something that will usually cheer me up when I'm down is...
  • I usually let people know I'm angry by...I usually let people know I'm angry by...
  • Some things that make me tense or uptight are...
  • I become easily annoyed by...
  • The way I let people know what I'm feeling or what I need is...

House Cleaning?

One of the typical areas of conflict between roommates is who cleans the room and when it is cleaned. You may be one who never notices the mess until you realize you can't get to your bed at night without stumbling over clothes and junk...or you may be just the opposite.

It is often helpful to sit down together and draw up a written agreement stating the cleaning duties for each week. Decide what is important to you both, and go from there.

If your roommate is not doing his or her part, don't wait around for a change. Talk to him or her soon. Don't demand or write notes complaining. These things make for hard feelings and they just increase problems instead of solving them. You can expect your roommate to do the same thing if you are not living up to your part of the bargain. Some of the areas you need to discuss now are:

  • vacuuming
  • making beds (probably a pact to do it individually)
  • dusting
  • taking out the trash

What About Those Friends...

It is important for you and your roommate to come to some agreement concerning visitors. If you have a roommate with friends who stay up late or party all the time when you need to study, you may be in a bad situation. You may also have a roommate whose girlfriend or boyfriend visits far too often for your comfort.

Talk to your roommate and find out his or her feelings about when and what time visitation is best. Then work together to get things out in the open when they bother you. Otherwise, it's that same old problem of things building up and becoming bigger than they really need to be. Now, spend some time honestly discussing the following items:

  • I would like to avoid having friends in the room during these times...
  • If I feel that your visitor(s) has overstayed his or her welcome, we will handle it like this...
  • The way I feel about your friends using my things is...
  • The way I feel about having people in the room when I'm trying to study is...
  • The way I feel about getting dressed with members of the opposite sex in the room is...
  • The way I feel about getting dressed with members of the same sex in the room is...
Super Roommate!

You've probably figured out by now that communication is the key to successful residence hall living. Always strive to keep those lines of communication open. Chances are that if something is bothering you, it's bothering your roommate, too. It's hard to keep feelings inside, and they usually show up on somebody's face. Be tactful when you talk to him or her. After all, your roommate is human, too.

You need to spend time with your roommate and get to know him or her. You will both encounter new experiences at Thomas; and if you're spending time together, it will be much easier to understand what you're both going through. Try to build on those things you're experiencing together.

Have other friends and get involved in some activities which interest you. We all need room to breathe, so don't depend on your roommate to supply your every emotional and social need.

If you have talked your way through these areas, you and your roommate should be well on the way to a good relationship. Remember, none of us are perfect. If problems develop between you and your roommate that you can't seem to solve, go see your Resident Assistant, or Residential Life Professional Staff member before you completely lose your cool or give up. These people have had experience with such situations and will be glad to work with you and your roommate on a solution. Don't let problems go until too much ill feeling has developed. Believe it or not, most problems do have solutions!



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