3 Lessons My College Roommate Taught Me
Regardless of whether you have experience sharing a room prior to college, your past experience will vary greatly from your college roommate experiences. I shared a room with my sister my entire life up until college, and while it did prepare me for sharing a room in college, I’ve definitely learned a few lessons from my college roommates.
For one, rooming with a sibling/family member is entirely different than living with a non-family member, even if your roommate is a close friend. While you can scream and fight childishly with your siblings because, well, you’re family and that’s what family often does when in close proximity, you can’t exactly do that with your college roommates without getting an RA or housing officials involved.
Sharing a room in college gave me a completely different experience and allowed me to learn even more, especially when it comes to communication and solving issues between people.
1. Never be passive aggressive
It’s surprisingly easy for small arguments to pop up between roommates, whether it’s an accidental spill that was forgotten about or forgetting to let your roommate know that you are going to have guests over for a few hours. These small arguments could be pushed to the side, as you or your roommate don’t want to make a big deal over something that seems so small and trivial.
However, it is the “small and trivial” things that are repeatedly pushed to the side, but not forgotten, leading to much bigger problems like you or your roommate being passive aggressive toward each other.
I’ve learned that being passive aggressive will never solve a problem, or at least not entirely. You can’t expect your roommate to know that her dishes need to be cleaned by a certain time by you giving her the silent treatment, or know that her bringing guests over past a certain time isn’t okay with you just by you bumping your music louder every time they make the slightest bit of noise.
It’s better to avoid whatever problems being passive aggressive can create or amplify by being honest with each other from the beginning. Being completely honest with my roommate made me uncomfortable at first because I didn’t want to be rude or demanding, but I learned that sharing a space became so much easier when we were clear with each other.
Me being honest with my roommate also made my roommate more honest with me, and knowing that we were at a level of being honest with each other made me more comfortable knowing that we equally respected each other and our own preferences in the same space.
2. Sharing is good, but it really depends on the situation
Growing up, many different people will stress that “sharing is caring,” and while that is true, you want to be aware of which situations sharing can be helpful in and what situations it won’t be helpful to share.
Sharing can be very helpful when it comes to saving money. Share necessities like a vacuum and other cleaning supplies to avoid spending money on something you don’t need to be spending a lot of money on.
At the same time, think before you agree to share something. For example, if you plan on sharing utensils, plates, and cookware, discuss and set some rules beforehand. Make sure you are both on the same page when it comes to how you are going to treat said belongings and how you expect the other to handle them. Sharing plates and utensils can be a good idea until you realize that your roommate fails to regularly wash her dishes, leaving you to wash them if you need to use them before she decides to clean them.
Another thing that I’ve learned some people struggle with is sharing food. Sharing bulk items like seasonings, flour, and eggs is a good idea if you want to use it all up before it expires and it cuts the costs if you do buy such items in bulk.
However, sharing items like your favorite snacks can be touchy if your roommate eats all of it without telling you so, only for you to find out when you are craving said snack. To avoid this, simply set rules on certain items, like items put in a specific place are not to be shared.
3. When establishing rules, realize that you are going to have to follow them too
It’s easy to throw out rules left and right when it comes to telling your roommate what you expect from them, like not having guests over on weeknights, or giving a few day’s notice for overnight guests. However, you may be establishing rules while not realizing that you will be following them as well.
You may not want your roommate having guests over invading your space, but it is completely unfair to turn around and invite guests as you wish. Put yourself in your roommate’s shoes, as you will be doing so as you will have to follow any rules established as well. When you realize that the rules are a little too strict, try to compromise and adjust rules so that both of you can comfortably follow every rule fairly.