College Roommates: What to Expect

As a college student about to embark on her junior year, I’ve experienced the many factors that go into sharing a living space with complete strangers and even close friends. When living with someone, there are four main things that can determine your experience: cultures, sleep schedules, cleanliness, and noise. While people may consider these factors when looking for a potential roommate, the reality of living with others may still not be what they expect.

1. Cultures

Different cultures might cause misunderstandings, which leads to an unwillingness to get to know one another. My roommate during my freshman year would always ask questions about certain foods and drinks I would eat. As an Asian American, at first, I was excited to teach and inform about my culture. My excitement quickly turned to annoyance the moment her questions transformed from what I was eating to why I was eating certain foods. On a shallow level, my desire to know my roommate dissipated and I eventually preferred to eat on my own.

2. Sleep Schedules

Differences in sleep schedules may be important depending on the individual. This, too, can become a great annoyance if everyone is trying to sleep at different times. For instance, I am someone who is not able to sleep with the lights turned on. My roommate would stay up late to do work, so I was often forced to do work instead of sleep which often resulted in a lack of sleep for the next day.

3. Cleanliness

Cleanliness is very important to all parties involved. Being clean is not only important for health and hygiene, it is also important because the room is a shared space and should be regularly cleaned out of common courtesy. But, living harmoniously with someone is impossible when both parties have different visions of what being clean means. My roommate, for instance, during freshman year would only clean if her parents or her boyfriend were coming to visit. I, on the other hand, would clean when the room gets too messy. To add to my annoyance, she did not help clean when I would clean the room.

4. Noise

Noise levels are also another annoyance that is to be expected when living with someone, especially if there are four to five people living together. While I adore my housemates, they can be very loud, especially during late hours of the night when one of the housemates tends to be asleep.

All these annoyances can cause a rift between both parties living together. It is why my roommate and I had such an awkward and cold relationship throughout freshman year. We simply could not live comfortably with one another. It is best to keep the reality of living with others in mind, address these issues, and compromise as early as possible.