So you made it through a whole year with your current college roommate, and you were really looking forward to having your own place for the summer. Then you got a great internship, or you decided to stay on campus to take classes, and you realized you’re going to have to start all over again with another roommate. You might be friends, you might not be. Only time will tell. But until the day comes, here are a few tips to help you navigate through those few months with a new, probably random roomie. HC called on Kathryn Williams, author of Roomies, to weigh in on possible roommate scenarios and how to deal.
Scenario: You and your roommate have very different work schedules.
What to do: First of all, start by looking on the bright side. If she waitresses in the evenings, and you work during the day, you’ll each have the room to yourselves during your breaks. If you two are friends, and not just roommates, your differing schedules may present a problem. One solution could be to plan friend dates in advance. If you know you’ll both have free time two Saturdays from now, pencil in a date.
Kathryn Williams says that the downside to having differing schedules will be having differing sleep schedules as well. Her advice is to invest in some earplugs.
“Unfortunately part of living with a roommate is wanting to murder her when her alarm goes off at 7 am and you don't have to be up until noon,” Williams says. “She probably feels the same when you come in at 1 am from your night shift. Try to be respectful by being quiet (including not banging around in the kitchen, singing in the shower, or blaring the radio or TV) at really early or really late hours.”
The bottom line is that you’re going to get woken up at some point. Williams says to suck it up, put your Big Girl Panties on and deal with it.
Scenario: You’re taking summer courses and your roommate isn’t. She wants to go out all the time and enjoy her off-time, and you need some serious study time.
What to do: In this situation, regardless of whether you want to be studying, you’re going to be jealous when you watch your roomie head out at night. It’d be nice on her part if she took her partying elsewhere, especially while you’re hitting the books. However, Williams says that asking the party roommate to tone it down doesn’t mean the studious roomie should have full reign of the room.
“The free roomie shouldn't have to tip-toe around, but she should also not make the living space the summer's official party zone. If she does want to have people over occasionally, she just needs to give her studious roomie a heads-up (and not 10 minutes before people arrive),” Williams suggests.
The key to navigating through this situation is striking a balance, taking turns and being respectful of one another’s summer schedules and goals.
Scenario: You and your best friend are living with a random subletter.
What to do: This could either go really well or really badly. The key is to be open to whatever might happen, and not to go into it with definite expectations.
Williams’s advice is not to gang up against the subletter if she doesn’t exactly fit in.
“If she pays rent, it's her place too, regardless of whether you and your friend decide to let her into the Circle of Trust,” Williams says. “Give her a chance when she moves in -- maybe invite her out with you or all see a movie together. But if it's not gelling you don't have to force it; the good news is it's only temporary.”
Scenario: You’re the subletter, and you’re stuck living with two roommates who are best friends.
What to do: First of all, accept the fact that you will feel like a third wheel. The good news is that this won’t last forever. If you play your cards right.
“Give your new roomies space but also be open to hanging out -- if you want to. They might be able to introduce you to new people,” Williams says.
There’s always the chance that you’ll feel like a third wheel the whole summer. This isn’t ideal, but it’s just a few months at the most.
“If you end up not clicking, that's fine too. A lot of roomies go about their separate lives. And again, it's only temporary,” Williams says.
Scenario: You and your roommate get along, but you’re not exactly best friends. Should you invite her out with you and your friends?
What to do: You should not feel obligated to invite your roomie out with you. There is no rule that says you have to be best friends. You only have to invite her out with you if you want to.
“It's a nice gesture to include your roommate at the beginning. It shows good will and that you are interested in getting to know her,” Williams says. “But if you don't think she'd enjoy your other friends or what you're up to, you certainly don't have to extend the offer.”
Also, if she continuously turns down your offers, then you can stop inviting her out — it’s worth a try, but not ten tries.
Scenario: You don’t know anyone in the city you’re going to be living in for the summer, and you were hoping to become friends with your roommate. How do you go about making it happen?
What to do: “First of all, you are brave,” Williams says. She also says that becoming friends with your roommate is a good place to start in terms of making friends in a new place where you don’t know anyone.
“You don't always have to wait for the invitation. If you want to be friendly, ask if she wants to hang out, maybe check out the free concert in the neighborhood or try that new restaurant down the street. Sometimes activities closer to home are a good way to get to know your roomie before entering the friend zone,” Williams suggests.
Williams says honesty is the best approach. Tell your roomie straight-up that you don’t know anyone around here and ask her if she wants to go out and catch a movie with you.
“If she seems hesitant or put out, it might be best to look elsewhere (maybe at your job or school) for new besties,” Williams said.
Scenario: Your roommate is friendless, and she tends to cling on to you and your friends.
What to do: The best approach is subtlety. There’s no need to inform her of your whereabouts at all hours of the day. You have to be careful not to make your living situation awkward by approaching her or being rude towards her. However, if she becomes too clingy, Williams says you can approach her about it, as long as you’re polite about it.
You should also ask yourself how bad it really is to have her around. You can also consider it your good deed for the summer to allow her to hang with you and your friends. You might be surprised to find you have more in common than you’d thought!
“Maybe she annoys you, but if she has no friends, this could be your charitable deed for the day,” Williams says. “Make an effort to introduce her to other people you think she might get along with (maybe friends of friends or that guy across the hall). Encourage her to try new activities; maybe she'll meet some real friends there.”
No matter what, the most important thing to remember when entering a random roomie situation is that she’s probably just as nervous as you are. Have an open mind, be respectful, and make a real effort to get to know this girl who you’ll be spending the next few months with — it will make the experience better for both of you, and if you’re lucky you can make a new friend that will last you into next year!