Welcome to the Chatham sisterhood, future Cougar! Every Monday this summer, look for new advice from Chatham women who can't wait to see you on campus.
Have a question you hope we'll answer or a topic you'd like us to cover? Email Campus Correspondent Mara Flanagan (firstname.lastname@example.org)!
The Topic: Roommates
Major: Visual Arts
Residence Hall: Fickes
Major: Media Arts—Concentrations in Photography and Graphic Design
Residence Hall: Fickes
I've got my roommate's name. Now what do I say to her?
When Stephanie received her roommate assignment from Residence Life, she got in touch by email, focusing especially on what each person would bring (in a tiny dorm room, having duplicate refrigerators or microwaves isn’t always ideal). Kayla knew her roommate before she got to Chatham, but she still made sure to meet with her friend in person to talk things over. There are basic things you’ll need to address (Kayla mentions that planning out “cleaning arrangements is a must”). But both Kayla and Stephanie agree that it’s super important to discuss more personal topics, from how each person likes to study to how they’d like to handle having friends over. “There’s nothing that’s exactly unimportant,” says Stephanie, “but there are some things that you just have to discover with time.”
We've texted and Skyped, but what do I do when I meet my roommate in person?
If you don’t know your roommate(s) from childhood or high school, it’s likely you’ll have pre-meeting jitters. Whether you connect with her at an Open House or say hi for the first time in the dorm doorway, Kayla suggests starting with the basics. “Talk about things you may have in common,” she says, “ask their major, ask where they came from.” Of course, there’s more to the first meeting than just exchanging words: you’re also forming an opinion. “Don’t make an unchanging first impression,” says Stephanie. “Everyone’s different when they first meet someone, and that will quickly change over the course of the year.” Remember, it’s just a first meeting; keep the conversation light. As Kayla puts it, “Be honest, but don’t be terribly honest, because you could scare your roommate off.”
What should I expect if my roommate and I are old friends?
The good news? You won’t have to stress about the first meeting. The challenge? “Be prepared to see their quirks as annoyances,” says Stephanie. “It might not always happen but it definitely can, so be prepared to develop a different kind of friendship with them.” Even if you’re really tight, close quarters can sometimes push roommates to the edge. “Don’t let stupid arguments get in the way of a however-many-year relationship,” advises Kayla. Sometimes, that means finding new ways to cut the tension. “You’re living with them now and cannot necessarily have time apart,” says Stephanie. “You will learn how to have time by yourself with someone else in the room and when you can and cannot interrupt their alone time.”
The suitcases are unpacked, classes started and we're settling into a routine. Now what?
Communicate! “Talk about all the things that are important that have to do with living with another person before you guys disagree on something later on down the road,” says Kayla. And if you do have a disagreement? “Always communicate any negative thoughts you’re having about anything they’re doing,” says Stephanie. “Never talk behind their back; it will most likely get back to them and then you have to literally live with your mistake.” Conflicts of opinion are almost unavoidable, but minimizing the risk is critical. “In order for things to go smoothly, setting rules for the living area is a must,” says Kayla.
Of course, there are some things you can’t control. Stephanie’s advice? “Be open-minded. Everyone has different lifestyles, quirks, and needs. Remember that the things they do in the room were once things they used to do alone. They might seem strange but it works for them, just as your quirks work for you.”
Sled Photo (courtesy of Marissa Veldman/Jessica Sanfilippo): Kayla Mento (right) with roommate Siena Oliverio
Spring Formal Photo (courtesy of Lucie Stanton): Stephanie Welling (left) with roommate Kayla Clem