The anticipation of meeting your random roommate can be nerve-wracking. You could be best friends. You could hate each other. You could simply be two people who live in the same room. Living with a stranger can be challenging, especially if you have difference schedules and personalities. When you get a roommate like Kimmy Jin from Pitch Perfect, who wants nothing to do with you, your room can turn into an uncomfortable living space pretty quickly. To ensure this doesn’t happen to you, make an effort at the beginning of the year to get to know your roommate. You don’t have to be best friends, but if you find a way to bond with your roommate, you’ll be well on your way toward cohabitating happily ever after.
1. Go to dinner
No matter how different you and your roommate may be, you’ll have at least one characteristic in common: at some point, you’ll both eat. So why not have a meal or two with your roommate and get to know each other while you’re nomming? A meal with your roommate gives you the time to get to know each other better, but is a short enough commitment that it won’t get too awkward if you run out of things to talk about. Try a new restaurant with your roommate or simply find time to meet in the dining hall — you can spend hours together trying to figure out what type of meat the “meatloaf” is.
Sarah, a junior from Wake Forest University, has dinner with her roommate every week. “We will treat ourselves and go out to dinner every once in a while, but we usually just make each other dinner and catch up during the entire process,” she says. Grabbing dinner with your roommate is a great way to periodically catch up, especially if you both have busy schedules. This technique worked so well for Sarah and her roommate that they continued it after freshman year. “We have a roommate dinner once a week and still do it to this day going into our senior year!” Sarah says.
2. Attend Welcome Week activities
One of the best ways to get to know your roommate is by going to Welcome Week activities together. During Welcome Week, your school will hold a variety of events and activities that will help you jump in to campus life. There will be events that will inform you of the clubs and resources your college offers, which will give you lots of opportunities make new friends and find where you fit in on campus. Explore the club fair and attend school- or club-sponsored events with your roomie; check with your school for a list of events going on at the start of the school year.
Lucy, a recent graduate from Boston University, says that she went to an outdoor movie that was a part of Welcome Week with her roommate freshman year. “We chatted the whole walk there. We actually stayed for the double feature, so we hung out between the movies as well,” says Lucy.
Because everyone’s nervous during the first few weeks of college, having a buddy next to you is an easy way to feel a little more comfortable during Welcome Week. And if the activities end up being boring, you can always bail together and go get ice cream!
3. Go exploring
It’s a new semester, a new town, a new school, and a new dorm; chances are you don’t know where you’ll be living for the next four years like the back of your hand just yet. Walk around campus with your roommate on a nice day and find all the buildings where your classes will be – there may be a building that is really hard to find, so having someone there next to you to help figure out where to go (without the pressure of getting to a class on time) can ease your first-day-of-class-nerves. Once you find your classes, stroll by the dining halls, student union, and fitness center. This way you’ll have a nice feel of where some of the main buildings are on campus. If you have enough time, you should also explore the area around campus. Scout out the best restaurants and stores, and see if you can find a movie theater or ice cream shop to return to the next weekend.
4. Decorate your room
You can have a lot of fun with your roommate by decorating your room together. Once you both have your own belongings unpacked and set up, talk about what you could do to bring your individual spaces together. You could get a large area rug to add a cool vibe to your room, you could string up a row of cute lights around the entire room, or maybe you could rearrange the furniture to find space for a futon! Since there’s no specified timeframe you need to finish decorating your room, take your time and explore your options. There are tons of cute dorm ideas on Pinterest that you can look to for crafty inspiration.
5. Watch a TV series
Watching TV can help you bond with your roommate because a show that you’re both interested in is an easy conversation starter. “It gives you a shared interest that you can experience together weekly, and it gives you something to talk about even when you’re not watching it,” says Briana, a senior at Georgia College & State University. The best part about a TV series is that it changes every week, so you’ll have an ongoing conversation starter for months! You can discuss new plot twists and what you think will happen next, or gush over a new hottie who made a guest appearance.
6. Bake something sweet
If you have a kitchen in your dorm, try experimenting with new recipes together. Make a goal to find the best cupcake recipe—and then experiment throughout the year until you find it! There are lots of scrumptious ideas on Pinterest that are worth checking out. If you practice enough, you may be able to design cupcakes that rival those in Her Campus’s roundup of the craziest cupcake designs. You could even make cookies or cupcakes and bring them door-to-door on your floor; it’s a super easy way to meet everyone! You can also organize a bake-off or cook off against your other suitemates or floormates. It’s a great way to swap recipes and get a sampling of other people’s cooking!
7. Go to parties
Going out with a roommate has major perks. To start off, you have someone right in your room who can help you pick out at cute party outfit. Shira, a junior at Franklin & Marshall, did this with her roommate. “We would pick out outfits for each other and style the other person’s hair. It was a great bonding experience and we had a great time,” she says. “I ended up wearing the outfit my roommate picked out for me on my birthday weekend, [which was] our first homecoming.”
Once you’re dressed and ready to go, you and your roommate could host a pregame to get to know some of your neighbors. When you make it to the party, you and your roomie can be each other’s wingwoman. College parties can be entirely different from those in high school, so it’s a good idea to have someone to stick with that you know will look out for you – and save you from someone you don’t want to dance with! You’ll also have someone to walk home with when the party ends, and you’ll both have tons of memories to laugh about at brunch the next day.
8. Host a movie night
Going out together can be a great bonding experience, but so can staying in! Nicole, a junior from the University of Michigan, would stay in with her roommate on occasion and watch movies. To bond with your roommate, have a chick flick or scary movie night every so often to just relax and unwind from studying. You can share a bowl of popcorn and bask in the coziness of your room and the comfiness of your sweatpants. If you need ideas about what movie to watch, try this list of seven great movies you have probably never heard of. Or just watch any Ryan Gosling movie (and drool together).
In the end, it really doesn’t matter what brings you and your roommate together, as long as you find something you can both do to have fun. You don’t have to become best friends, but you want to get to know each other well enough that you feel at home in your room.