The COVID-19 pandemic has changed all our lives over the last year. Now, as more students have come to campus here at Northwestern, we’ve seen firsthand the challenges the pandemic poses on college life. For those of us who have chosen to live with roommates, constant Zooms, colder temperatures and overall restrictions on going out has forced us to grow super close super fast.
It can be easy to feel overwhelmed, especially if you’ve never had to live in the same room as someone before, but here are some tips and tricks to ease into sharing space for the next few months:
Wear headphones or AirPods when the other person is working or in class as well. Having two lectures going on and simultaneous break out room discussions can be a huge distraction as you might find yourself listening in to material that has nothing to do with what you’re studying. It’ll also make it easier when you’re presenting or speaking for the others to hear you over any background noise.
Set aside quiet and alone time. After a long day of Zooms, the last thing you might want to do is keep stimulating yourself, and it’s okay to let your roommate know that you want to take a nap or sit on your phone quietly for a little bit. If Evanston weather permits, take the time between classes to go outside and walk by the Lakefill or run errands that take you away from your laptop and clear your head. Likewise, respect when your roommate asks for space and don’t take it personally if they withdraw to recharge.
Clean up after yourself. It’s more important than ever these days to keep your room clean, not just for aesthetic reasons but to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Whenever you come back to your room, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer and regularly wipe down any shared surfaces like mini fridges, Keurigs and TV remotes.
Find bonding activities to do together! For my roommate and I, watching Netflix at night together to unwind has become a habit and so far we’ve devoured Grey’s Anatomy, Euphoria and Bling Empire. It’s a great way to relax after a long day and laugh together over what’s happening on the screen.
Invite anyone over without clearing it with your roommate first. Follow any guidelines given by your R.A. or dorm but also check in with your roommate to make sure that they’re comfortable introducing new people into the room. Be respectful and understanding of their beliefs and find new ways to connect with friends in lounges or other common areas if that’s what your roommate prefers.
Borrow any items without asking. Sharing is common between roommates, but some things might be private or special that your roommate wants to keep to themselves. A shared space doesn’t equate to putting everything together so communicate with your roommate about what they’d like to share with you and what you want to share with them.
Talk about your roommate behind their back. If you have any problems, it’s natural to go to others for advice and suggestions but make sure that you don’t speak badly about them. If it gets back to them, it could make for awkward future conversations and dampen the mood in your room. Even if you don’t get along at all, keep it respectful and civil so you can still enjoy your time in your room peacefully.
Good luck to any Northwestern students living with roommates this quarter! As tricky as it can be and as difficult as the pandemic has been for us, you can still make incredible memories with your roommate and friends this quarter to look back on.