The dos and don’ts of being a college roommate

Chances are you have already Facebook-stalked your roommate and made your assumptions about how the school year is going to go.  Throw those assumptions out the window. You have no idea how this year will go, and it should be that way. Be open to the idea of living with a complete stranger and embrace it. Chances are it won’t make  or break your year, but it will have a big impact.

To make sure everything goes well for you, here are some dos and don’ts of living with a new roommate.

Do communicate. Living in silence can be really awkward. It can also set a very tense environment, which no one needs. Even if you don’t like the person, it’s good to still have conversations with them, however brief they may be.

Don’t be too loud. These conversations shouldn’t consist of you yelling.  If you need to say something, just say it (use an inside voice). Being passive- aggressive never works out.  Also, if your roommate is trying to study, don’t blare music or the TV. You probably shouldn’t throw ragers in your room, either, if your roommate isn’t a party person. Just be respectful.

Do set boundaries. Respect everyone’s things. If you don’t want your roommate eating your food or borrowing your clothes or using your towels, then just tell them that. The boundaries need to be set early on, especially if you have a serious issue with people touching your stuff.

Don’t be too stingy.  Do not freak out if your roommate eats a bag of your goldfish. A give-and-take kind of relationship is much more enjoyable to have than constantly worrying about what you can and cannot touch. Do not freak out about the little things as long as it truly is a give-and-take relationship.

Do give them some alone time. Being around people constantly can be quite maddening, especially if you are doing it for three years (hello, residency requirement), so in order to save the sanity, give each other some time alone in the room to do whatever they may like.

Don’t take advantage of the alone time. As in, don’t sexile your roommate on a regular basis. It is totally understandable to want some alone time with your significant (or non-significant) other, but don’t get crazy. I would say once a week is acceptable. Have some kind of signal just in case, whether that be code words or a sock outside of the door.

Do be clean. You will probably forget, but this is not just your room. Even though your parents are not around to constantly remind you, no one wants to climb over your piles of clothes and trash spewed all over the floor. Smells and bugs are always unwelcome.

Don’t puke everywhere.  This is obvious with the aforementioned statement, but take this one extremely seriously. Sickness is semi-understandable; drunkenness is not.  You don’t want to clean it up, and your roommate certainly is not going to clean it.  My advice: do not get drunk enough to puke, but, if you do,  aim for a toilet.

Do make other friends. Your first week, you will probably cling to your roommate. They are essentially your social life jacket. There is nothing wrong with this but you don’t have to be best friends with your roommate. If it happens, then that’s great, but don’t force it. Sometimes living with your best friend can be a real pain in the ass.  Expand your horizons and meet other people.

Don’t leave them out. Even though you make new friends, your roommate might not , so be kind. I don’t mean you have to take pity on them, but it would still be nice if you occasionally invited them out to do things with you and your friends. Keep their birthday in mind and do something special for them on that date, like taking them out to dinner off campus.

Do be reasonable. Conflicts are sure to arise in your time living together, so make sure to consider your roommate’s side of the argument.

Don’t be passive-aggressive. Post-It note wars are a battle no one is going to win. Talk it out, and, if necessary, consult your resident mentor.