College…it’s a scary and exciting time. This is the first time you are leaving home. There are no parents telling you what to do, and you’re taking on a new city, new friends, and new experiences. There are so many elements of adjustment when you go to college. Living with a roommate is new experience for most. At home many people have the luxury of their own room, bathroom, a normal sized shower, separate living and sleeping spaces, and a kitchen.
The first thing I learned is that other people aren’t you. Now this is by no means a bad thing. In fact, it is a really good thing. If everyone was the same life would be really, really boring.
Second thing is, private time is scarce. Sharing a room with another person, means that the room you use to get away and have some alone time, is also where your roommate goes to do the same. This school year, six person suites with common rooms were transformed into 8 person suites without common rooms. This is confining students to their room when they want to do homework, watch tv, sleep, sometimes eat. You don’t have a common room to do other activities and your room to sleep and relax. You have to figure out when your roommate has classes or other activities so you can have some alone time. You never release how much you missed having own room until it is gone.
Third, you have to be considerate of others’ time and they have to be considerate of yours. This includes being aware of when the other person is sleeping, turning the lights on and off, and noise. Living with someone else means being respectful of their time and schedule. Hopefully they will have the same respect for you. Your roommate may not notice everything that you notice. You have to talk things through sometimes so that your roommate knows how you feel about things they are doing.
This is where compromise comes into play as the fourth skill to keep in mind. You have to be able to have a give and a take. Don’t be afraid to ask your roommate to do something or not to do something. It could be the simplest thing, like cleaning once a week, to something a bit more complex, like your roommate keeping you up late at night. Remember to be considerate and respectful of each other at all times.
The fifth thing I have learned is you are always bonding. Your roommate is the first person you meet when you arrive at college. There is this unspoken bond as you live together and get to know more and more about each other. There are the late night talks when neither of you can sleep, thinking about life. The stress of cramming to finish a homework assignment at the last minute. The boyfriend or friend from home drama as you try to balance life back home with your new life here at school.
Every person’s experience is different. Remember to have fun, embrace it, and be yourself throughout it all.