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An Open Letter to the Freshman Dealing with Their Roommate(s)

Dear fellow freshman,

School has been in session for roughly a month and a half, and you’re starting to get the hang of being in college. The daily grind of getting up and going to class is getting easier, classes are becoming slightly less overwhelming (hopefully) and you even have your makeup and self-care routine down pat. One thing that may not be as consistent, though, is what that worries you the most. It’s something you can’t seem to escape.

Your roommate.

Before moving in, you two may have talked to each other online and decided to room together. Or, you made the decision to leave it up to chance by placing your faith in the roommate survey you completed. Either way, the situation you ended up with may not be exactly how you pictured moving in with someone else from another city – or state – would be. You may have expected to be their best friend: going out together, having the same interests and even sharing clothes. Or, you just imagined that everything would be just fine before you actually had to share a space with them every day. Whatever you thought, it became evident in a short amount of time that what you envisioned was exactly that: just an image, not reality.

As much as you try, the two of you cannot see eye to eye. Whether it be about cleaning, curfew or having guests over, nothing seems to be getting through. If you are going through a tough time with your roommate right now, just know a lot of other people are, too. The two (or three) of you are all coming from different backgrounds. It is easy to ignore that fact, but it is significant. This quality could contribute greatly to why you don’t seem to understand each other or agree about certain things. As much as you may want it to be so, your roommate isn’t supposed to be exactly like you. It is rare that anyone forms a strong connection with their roommate. In some cases, it is better that you aren’t friends with your roommate, so you both don’t make assumptions or predictions about each other once you share a room. It’s fine if you decide to be friends in the process, but usually it’s best to start off with a clean slate.

Communication is also a big factor in building a functional relationship with your roommate. Lots of things are assumed or left to be misinterpreted if there isn’t a formal conversation about it. When your RA urges you to fill out a roommate agreement sheet, please take it seriously. It’s what could come between you and a very tense situation, which could result in further conflict. Don’t be afraid to bring up things that bother you to your roommate, because if things are left unsaid, they will fester. If both of you come up with solutions to problems that affect the atmosphere of the room, then that will result in a happier you. If you are in a place of less stress, then everything else in school and your social life should follow suit. 

If you’ve both tried to come up with a solution and nothing seems to be working, don’t be afraid to allow some time for yourself. You don’t have to stay in the room. There are other things you can do to relive stress – ask a friend if they want to hang out, go to the library or just have some “me time.” It helps to step away from situations of tension so you can come back and assess the moment after time has cooled both of you down.

Lastly, know that you are not alone. There are many students going through the exact same problems as you are.  Life hardly ever happens in the exact ways that we all imagine it will, and that’s okay. Enjoy your first year of college to the fullest, and don’t let any conflicts between you and others go unresolved. You’re going to have the time of your life!

Sincerely,

Someone who has Also Been There 

Brezaja is a sophomore studying film in the School of the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University. When not writing articles for Her Campus at VCU, you can usually find them endlessly browsing Netflix or checking social media, mostly Instagram and Twitter. They try to be as open-minded as possible, and don't mind having conversations with others about social issues. After college, they dream of being an art director for films.
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