Adjusting to sharing a space is possible with some ground rules

By Emma Palatnik, Staff writer

I have two younger siblings, but growing up, we’ve never had to share a room for longer than a vacation. My longest sharing experience was at overnight camp for a maximum time of six weeks, so going to college and sharing an apartment with three other girls was a big jump. However, I found that it’s much easier to share a space than I thought it would be.

The first thing my roommates and I did was make a roommate contract. Our building required this, and it helped us establish ground rules. It’s also something we could refer to if we ever had any issues. We talked about sharing, washing dishes, cleaning, noise levels and the like. It also gave us something to talk about the first night together.

We also decided always to speak up when we had a problem. I’m not perfect, and neither are they, and it does sting for an hour when they ask me not to do something. But I would rather be upset for a short time than have a big blow-up after a month. We try to resolve issues as they come along so we can maintain healthy relationships with each other.

Communication is key. I love talking to my roommates, and they are some of my best friends. I know this is not the case with everyone, but I got lucky. We communicate every day via text or in person. I always tell them where I am going so we can look out for each other. My roommates are my family, and I want them to be safe. I know they feel the same about me.

I do my share of work around the apartment. I make sure I get groceries when it’s my turn and clean up periodically. My roommates appreciate when I keep up with my responsibilities. It’s not fair for them to have to do all the work.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

Because we share such a small space, I give my roommates alone time, too. I make sure that I’m not always in the room. It’s good for them to have some time alone because we all need to recharge, and they do the same for me. Even if we are all in the apartment, we occasionally have quiet time to relax and do homework.

I notify my roommates if I have anyone over, or if my parents are coming to visit. They don’t like to be surprised, and neither do I. I don’t mind if they have friends over, but I like to know what to expect when I come home. This way I know if I need to clean my room or make plans to be out of it. Since the space is not just mine, it’s nice to keep everyone in the loop about what is going on and who is in the apartment.

I offer to help my roommates with everything I can. If I’m going to Walgreens, I text them and make sure they don’t need anything. I help them with their homework and edit their papers. If I help them, they will be willing to help me.

Lastly, I treat my roommates with respect. They are like my sisters, but that doesn’t mean that I can treat them unfairly. They are some of the best people in my world, and I want to keep it that way. Sharing a small space went from being a situation that I dreaded to a way for me to bond with some of my best friends.

Emma is a freshman in Media.

[email protected]