By Kristin Doherty
By now, you’re probably well read on how to deal with a bad roommate. But what if you're the one who's bad? It can happen, especially because most college freshmen have never lived with a roommate before. However, being a good roommate definitely doable -- it just comes down to courtesy and respect. Read on for HC's tips on being the best roommate ever to make sure your living situation is pleasant and fun!
1. Set your ground rules early and listen to her requests.
Talking to your roommate about issues like sexiling, cleaning schedules, and sharing clothes can be a little awkward, especially when you still don't know her very well yet. But setting ground rules is essential for making your living experience manageable. For example, if you aren't comfortable having alcohol in the room, tell her right away (before she can go on a beer run). If you feel like you have a lot of differences, you can even create a roommate contract to make sure that both of your preferences are being met.
Suzzette, a senior at the University of Puerto Rico, thinks setting guidelines at the beginning of the year is really important for keeping the peace. "Based on all my experiences with roommates, it's essential that from day one you lay the ground rules, just so you both are on the same page," she says. Suzzette and her roommates set rules about cleaning and having company over so everybody knows what is expected of them.
2. Clean up after yourself.
Nobody likes to live in a room littered with dirty dishes, overflowing garbage cans, or laundry all over the floor. It's totally understandable to put off washing your dishes when you have a huge exam the next day, but make sure your mess doesn't stay there too long. Not only can it be annoying for your roommate, but it's kind of gross, too! The key to keeping clean is getting into good habits early on. At the start of the school year, put all your laundry in a hamper -- not on the floor. Get used to washing each dish after you use it and taking the trash out every week. If you start off your cleaning habits early, it won't seem too hard to keep it up during the rest of the year.
Also, if you clean your side of the room regularly, your roommate might follow your lead. "I try to lead by example -- I’ll go out of my way to take out the trash, Swiffer the floor, and do the dishes," says Alicia, a junior at Penn State. This way, your roommate might take notice of how much cleaning you do and follow suit. But if she doesn’t, remember to talk it out with her directly yet politely -- don’t be a passive-aggressive note writer! Let her know that you’d like to split up the chores evenly and create a cleaning schedule.
3. Respect her privacy.
While it might sound like a no-brainer, don’t borrow your roommate’s stuff without asking! Later on in the semester, you and your roommate might decide to start sharing clothes and food. But until you talk about it, borrowing her stuff is off-limits. Using her stapler once or twice won't be a big deal. However, eating her food, taking her school supplies, or borrowing her clothes is a big no-no!
Also, don’t go through your roommate’s stuff, no matter how harmless it may seem. Getting privacy is hard enough while living in a dorm, so don’t snoop on your roommate! Don't invade her privacy by going through her personal belongings, looking through her cell phone, reading her journal, or checking out her browser history. If your roommate did that to you, you'd be upset, too.
4. Try to bond with your roommate.
At the beginning of the year, it can be hard to tell if you and your roomie will really click. Make it easier by trying to form a relationship right off the bat. Plan to go to the dining hall together during the first week of school to get to know each other and find out what you have in common. Discovering that you both love Harry Potter or want to join the same intramural team can help the two of you develop a friendly relationship early on!
5. Keep your stuff on "your side."
In most dorms, each person gets a bed, a dresser, a desk, and a closet. Your room will likely be set up in a way that all your furniture is on one side of the room, and your roommate's is on the other. Keeping track of your stuff and maintaining your privacy can be a lot easier if each of you claims one section of the room.
Katherine, a junior at Northwestern University, found that separating her and her roommate’s stuff by sides was really helpful. "My sophomore roommate was neater than me -- my closet and desk were pretty disorganized and messy, but I never left stuff out on the floor or on her side of the room," she says. Contain your stuff to the furniture on your side of the room; don't let your belongings wander onto her turf. Not only will you be able to keep track of your things more easily that way, but you'll also avoid annoying your roomie.