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Roommates 101

With Winter Break coming up, it’s about that time in the year when many find themselves at odds with their roommates. From not washing dishes to opposite sleeping schedules and messiness, there is a plethora of potential problems that can arise in close cohabitation. Having lived through the classic double, shared apartments, a single and a house abroad, I can say that there are many ways to make the most of the roommate experience and avoid a civil war from breaking out in what quickly becomes your home away from home.  


Roommate Contracts

Remember those things that you were forced to sign freshman year? Even if you’re a senior, there are very real reasons for their creation and it might be time to bring them back. Being a good roommate is about being considerate of the other person and creating the best space for both parties. Having a set list of the rules from the beginning is a good start, but often doesn’t work for many reasons, one being that issues often come up throughout the year. A realistic compromise is to set a starting list and create a system for discussing concerns (see below).


Being Passive Aggressive

One of the biggest foils to any successful roommate relationship is being indirect about feelings. Everyone was raised differently. Though there will be things you simply have to suck up, there are also times when you have to speak up. One of the best ways to avoid communication conflicts is to have an agreement to bring up things in the moment, and then agreeing to let hostility go unless it becomes a repetitive problem. If there is a specific issue, picking a time when you are both in a calm frame of mind is key (and having a snack on head doesn’t hurt either). Going to them first (and no one else) shows that you care about the issue more than creating drama.


Approving Mends

College, especially during finals, is a challenging time for everyone, and it can be easy for people to take out their frustrations on someone they are living with. Whether it’s getting their favorite snack, vacuuming the floor or just getting a nice dinner together, little acts of kindness build trust and bonds, something essential to a relationship with someone you’re living with. Roommates have a unique bond that’s different from any other in college, and especially for underclassmen, having someone there for you at your best and worst times is invaluable.


Picking for Next Year

When it comes to making decisions, things tend to be mutual, and it’s important to be honest. Good or bad, having roommates is a unique part of the college experience and something that will likely carry on into the years post graduation. Being able to be a good roommate and deal with difficult situations is a skill that is invaluable (even if you mostly just get good stories). Fortunately, breaks come up and seem to be strategically placed, allowing for healthy space from those we live with. Good luck!


Emma Sheehy is a senior English major at Bucknell University. Now washed up, she can be seen running around Lewisburg, people watching on the first floor of the library and drinking wine in her apartment. She prefers to send snail mail, call people rather than text (to the dismay of her friends) and loves nighttime walks. To see more of her "stuff" check out her personal blog on life at Bucknell at http://www.emmasheehy.com.
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