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How To Befriend a Roommate

Let’s admit it: making friends is hard! Social interaction? Talk about difficult. Now, to make it worse, we’re in this terribly awkward situation of living with someone else, how can we possibly ever get along? How can two such supposedly different people ever be friends? You think to yourself, “I need my own space, my own time!” Befriending a roommate can be a tricky task because of the complete lack of faith we all have in the housing department, and with our own social capabilities. However, with this detailed step by step guide of all of the trickiest social silks we severely lack, I can help bring you and your roommate closer than ever, because finding any compatibility between you and another person can be very hard.  


1. Use your words

Sometimes, using your words to communicate is the best way to form everlasting bonds. It’s also an extremely useful tool to work out disagreements. A source, who requested anonymity says she has “had luck using [her] words. When I use my words, I find people know what I’m thinking.”


2. Don’t startle your roommate

When you get up to use the bathroom at night, make sure you’re really careful to check your surroundings. I’ve found it personally helpful, because I like to drink tea before bed, to plan a route to get out of the room before lights are out. This way, when I get up in the middle of the night, my roommate doesn’t “catch a fright” when they see a figure moving across the room. Also, try to be as quiet as possible when crossing the room. If you have floorboards, and are in one of the older buildings at Mount Holyoke, I would “think light” when moving because your roommate may be a light sleeper and get easily spooked.


3. Give your roommate nice surprises
I love it when my roommate takes a shower at least every two days. I know that my roommate really cares about me when they shower every so often as well. It’s a really nice feeling when your roommate smells good, because then your room smells good. This is a nice surprise. One anonymous source says that, “when my roommate takes a shower, it takes the burden off of me to take a shower, because then I feel refreshed and clean.” Another suggestion would be to eat your roommate’s food so they know you both like the same snacks and have something in common. You should be careful with this, though, because some roommates can be very territorial. So perhaps at first test the waters by only taking a little bit of their food at a time to see what happens.


4. Do things together!

This seems like one of the easiest ways to befriend your roommate, however, sometimes it is the hardest. You have to find something in common, which can be tricky with a new roommate. Both of you go to Mount Holyoke, so obviously you are both strong individuals, and therefore, it can be hard to find a similarity between two special people. However, I’m sure, deep down, there is a common underlying string of similarity. Perhaps start small, go brush your teeth together, if you are both orally hygienic. You may also want to try to go to eat together, however it is also very difficult to find places to eat when you are both very different people and may want to eat at different dining halls. I would suggest for this dilemma, to, again, use your words to resolve these arguments. Once you’ve mastered these simple tasks, you can try something on a larger scale. Maybe you can go get a tattoo of each other’s’ names in Northampton. Lucky’s and Body Haven are both great places that are clean and safe, if you’re into that sort of thing.  


5.Offer to help with their homework
Yes, even if they’re doing Advanced Thermodynamics and you’re majoring in Theatre or something else very different. They will appreciate the help. Make sure to not sound too condescending, because although you may be laughing at their suffering on the inside, you’re trying to befriend your roommate and you want to sound as helpful as you can. You may be asking, “why would I even offer my help if I know nothing on the subject?” This is because they will probably know you have no idea how to help, but you’re offering just to be kind, and they will appreciate the gesture. Please note: do not perform this action if you have not pre-disclosed your major with your roommate, this can cause your roommate to actually accept your help and then your roommate may get many questions wrong and fail the class.

“It’s nice of her to ask, even though I won’t take her up on it because we’re just of different worlds, and she just might not know what the heck is going on in my homework because she hasn’t/doesn’t take the class. I feel like her offering her help with my homework is the pinnacle of friendship. That’s how I know we are friends,” says Abby Baker ‘19.


6. Don’t stare.
When you’re living in close quarters with someone, it may seem like you feel the need to just stare at them with seemingly no reason. Even if your gaze starts to drift, your roommate may take it personally that you’re staring at them. It is a primitive reaction to believe that staring is rude because in society, “the general gist of manners is to make others around you feel comfortable. Staring makes people uncomfortable, at least in the US. It makes people think you want to say something to them and when you don’t, uncomfortableness quickly turns to creepiness and, soon after, rudeness. In the extreme, some people may get so put off by this they may yell, ‘What the [heck] are you looking at? How about I knock you on your ass?’ At that point, it is safe to assume they’re pretty angry at the staring” (Garrick Saito, Quora.com, 2014). Another source says that, “It’s not just rude, but you don’t want to give others the message that you’re preoccupied with what someone else is doing or what they look like. There is really no reason to stare at someone unless you have a physical impairment or unless you think you know them and recognize them from somewhere. Why stare at someone, anyway? You don’t know if it makes them uncomfortable and everyone has a radius of personal space” (That’s What She Said, Yahoo Answers, 2008). Hopefully, your roommate will be docile enough to not have the urge to “knock you on your ass,” if you’re caught doing it, however, staring is a sure fire way to not become best friends forever (BFFs).

In short, I hope this little beginners list on how to befriend your roommate helped. Again, these are not proven to work, but it seems like these are the best dos and don’ts of living with another person. Although it may feel like you’re living with some random, remember they’re still a person who deserve as much respect as you do. In other words, treat them better than a family member.


If you would like to write for Her Campus Mount Holyoke, or if you have any questions or comments for us, please email mt-holyoke@hercampus.com.


My name is Victoria and I am a singer/songwriter and physics enthusiast from Pleasantville, NY. I am a first year currently studying Music and Physics at Mount Holyoke College. I run for the Cross Country and Track team, and I am a big proponent of Halloween, Harry Potter, music, tea, and art.
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