By Sierra Tishgart
It can be a little unnerving to shake hands with a stranger who you're going to cohabitate with for an entire year of your life. Not only do you have to live in a room the size of a closet freshman year -- you have to share that small space! First impressions are important, and your initial conversations with your new roommate can set the tone for your relationship for the months to come. You may end up becoming best friends, but at this moment, it matters more that you establish a sense of respect for one another. We asked experts about how you can connect with your new roommate and lay the groundwork for a peaceful living situation.
Click through the slideshow below for five crucial tips on getting to know your new roommate.
This article has been reprinted with permission from teenvogue.com.
Take It Slow
"When you're first talking, don't disclose too much information about yourself," says Rachel Simmons, author of <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Odd-Girl-Out-Revised-Updated/dp/0547520190" target="_hplink">Odd Girl Out</a> </em>(Mariner Books). "Because you're nervous, you're more likely to over-connect and over-share. You'll have plenty of time and endless hours to get to know this person -- you don't need to be her best friend in the first five minutes!"
Ask Good Questions
"Ask your roommate about her habits," says Simmons. "Get a sense of what she expects out of the roommate experience. People feel good when they have an opportunity to share what's on their mind, so your roommate will feel flattered that you care to know what she's thinking or what she wants. Does she have a favorite snack? Offer to pick it up."
Establish Ground Rules
"Start with building a strong foundation upfront," says Jenny Blake, author of <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Life-After-College-Complete-Getting/dp/0762441275" target="_hplink">Life After College</a></em> (Running Press). "How are you going to split the cleaning responsibilities? What kind of courtesies do you want to have about having friends over or playing music late at night?"
Let Your Roommate Know If You Plan On Having A Frequent Visitor
"One of the biggest causes of roommate conflict is 'sexiling,'" says Simmons. "If you have a significant other, have a conversation with your roommate upfront about how much you expect him or her to visit. If you expect privacy in your room every weekend, that's inconsiderate. Strike a balance and find out what your roommate is comfortable with -- be aware that girls will say, 'sure, that's fine,' even though it's not. Treat your roommate the way you would want to be treated, and don't assume that's she's okay with everything just because she says she is."
Schedule A Monthly Check-In
"Sitting down once a month will create a safe way to talk about how everything's going," says Blake. "In the beginning, be over-communicative. Ask more than you think you need to and check in often until you start to get used to each other's living habits and patterns."