One of the questions that I was asked before I entered college was about how I felt now that I would have to share a room with someone. I am an only child, so many people were under the impression that it would be a difficult transition for me to learn how to live in a confined space with another person. More so, as I entered my first year at Fairfield, I learned that I would be in a triple, so I would be living with not one, but two strangers. Living with a roommate never greatly concerned me about college because I knew that the easiest ways we would be able to get along was if we established certain rules to ensure that no boundaries were crossed, respected each other’s boundaries and spoke to one another if something bothered us.
It is important to establish a sense of respect with your roommate and the best way to do that is by creating an open dialogue with one another. When my roommates and I first found out that we would be living together, we created a Facebook group message so that we could have a preliminary conversation about who was bringing what necessities to the room. Additionally, once we got to school we spent more time getting to know each other and understanding what aspects of college-life we felt comfortable or uncomfortable about so that we did not step on each other’s toes. At first, the process seemed unnatural, but in hindsight, we made the right decision. You cannot expect your roommate to read your mind. If you do not make it clear to your roommate that something, such as alcohol or people spending the night in the room, makes you uneasy, then you cannot be surprised if your roommate does either and thinks that you are OK with it.
Our generation is considered to be highly egocentric and that is not a quality that you want in a living space that you share with someone. It is important to consider that you are not the only person living in the room and that actions affect more than just the person who makes them. If you want to make changes to your side of the room, you are entitled to do so, but take into account how that will affect the entire room’s dynamic. Simply because changes are intended for one person’s side does not mean that these changes should not be run by the other people living in the space. Let your roommates know what your thoughts are so that there are no surprises. If you have a discussion, your roommate might be able to offer suggestions for how you can make changes that will affect your side without crossing over and interfering with his or her personal space.
Moreover, speaking to your roommate if you have a problem with him or her is also vital. Communication is a common problem with college roommates and it is one that I had with one of my roommates last year. Do not let the issue exacerbate by talking about it with friends rather than your roommate and letting it get back to your roommate in a second-hand way. The issue will inevitably lead to an avoidable confrontation. However, you do not necessarily need to make mistakes in order to learn from them. It is possible to be upfront, but respectful when you have an issue with something that your roommate is doing or has done. The worst that can happen is that he or she will blow you off and if it cannot be resolved alone, then you can contact your Resident Assistant for further help.
Make sure that you go into college with an open mind; you will meet people of all walks of life and that’s one of the greatest parts of going away to school. Moreover, the likelihood that you and your roommate will be best friends after freshman year or that you will live together again is unlikely. Most importantly, you should not try to force a friendship with your roommate. If it happens naturally, then that is great, but sometimes it makes it easier if you merely co-exist so that if you have an issue with a friend, it does not have to come back to your room at the end of the night. As long as you create a respectful environment, then there should not be any major issues.