What Two Years of College Has Taught Me About Roommate Etiquette

The sophomore class is almost officially done with half their college careers, and I figured now would be a good time to reflect on roommate etiquette. This list is based on my own and some of my friends' problems, disagreements, etc that we have had with our roommates over the past 2 years. No matter who you live with, it is rare that it will be perfect all the time so keep these tips in mind next time you share a room.

  1. Ask permission to borrow or use you roommate's things. Obviously if it's a pen on their desk that you need to use to sign a paper quickly, it's ok but otherwise be courteous of their space. This includes food, clothes, books, etc. My friend told me how she spent an hour freaking out about losing a book, only to have her roommate come in and say she borrowed it for the morning.
  2.  Be thoughtful when using the phone in your room.  It doesn't matter if you're calling your mom, study buddy, or a customer service associate, consider what your roommate is doing. If she is studying, take the call outside. I'd say if it's before 10am or after 10pm, take the call outside. It's distracting if you spend 30 minutes on the phone while I'm trying to finish a paper. At least offer to take the call outside to make sure you don't cause any resentment. This also includes turning your phone on silent if you're both doing homework and especially sleeping. Now I know what you're thinking "how will I ever know if so and so texts me?!?" Well most phones' screens light up, so keep it next to your books, and you'll notice when it lights up.
  3. Be clean about shared spaces. Whether it is a kitchen sink full of dirty dishes or a bathroom covered with hair, remember that you share space, and your roommate doesn't want to have to navigate her way through your empty plates to fill up a glass of water. 
  4. Don't "hog" the room or bathroom. This normally isn't a big issue, but I have had a friend text me complaining how she really needed to go to the bathroom but one roommate had been in the shower for over an hour. Not a pleasant thought. Same with the mirrors and sinks. Maybe make it so you do half your makeup then go change and then finish your makeup then pack your bag and then finish your hair. That way you don't use the counter for a solid block of time. A simple conversation with your roommates about when they are planning to get ready in the morning or to go out at night can help coordinate times instead of have them conflict.
  5.  Discuss the room temperature! If you like it hot and they like it cold, it becomes a battle of who gets to the thermostat first. Make sure to balance the temperature in the room by opening windows or turning on the heat to a happy medium. Remember you can always wear a sweater if you're cold and they can wear shorts if they're hot. 
  6. Talk, talk, talk! Don't let drama build. Be clear with your suitemates because otherwise you'll be annoyed every time they do something. The sink is full? Let someone know the first or second time because if you don't, then don't be surprised if you find the sink full ten more times. If you take out the trash every time your roommate lives it full to the brim, it will become expected you will always do that. Talking out shared responsibilities and shared space solves potential feuds.

I highly encourage everyone to talk to their roommate/suite mate whether it's a summer roommate or next fall because if all these issues combined, it could lead to some drama. Be courteous, clean, and chatty! If there is something that your roommate does that just drives you crazy, let her know, nicely, and say that you'd want her to tell her if you did something to upset her. Happy summer and best of luck with roommates in the future!

 

Photo Sources

http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/food-safety/dirty-sink.php

http://www.corbisimages.com/stock-photo/rights-managed/42-26179796/little-girl-yelling

http://blogs.plos.org/obesitypanacea/2011/02/25/turn-down-your-thermostat-to-lose-weight-suggests-new-study-dripping-with-sarcasm/