Be a courteous roommate
February 15, 2021
Whether you’re planning on moving into your first residence hall as a freshman or kicking back in senior land, chances are you will be rooming with someone other than yourself. When you’re living with people who aren’t your family members, there are some things to keep in mind to ensure your living situation is, well, livable for the next year.
First things first: Get in contact with your roommates and plan who will bring what to your living arrangement. The last thing anybody wants is to forget to bring necessities to the apartment or residence hall and make a panic trip to Target. It’s easy to forget things like mats, kitchen utensils and shower rings.
Next, gather all your roommates, sit down and have a serious conversation about the ground rules and boundaries you want to set in the apartment. This is a great time to talk about pet peeves, sleeping preferences, how clean you want things to be and general expectations. A huge trap roommates fall into, especially if they are friends, is they fail to communicate their expectations of living together. However close you may be with your roommates, living together is a whole different ball game.
You see how your friends are when you hang out with them, but seeing how they live may surprise you. For instance, if you’re the type of person to get your homework done in the early evening and be fast asleep by 10 p.m., you may want to know if your roommate doesn’t even start their homework until midnight and falls asleep at 5 a.m.
On a similar note, if you are a clean freak, it may be a good idea to voice your concerns on keeping the apartment clean. If you can’t stand dirty dishes piling up and the garbage can being full, make it clear at the very beginning of the lease so that your roommates know to be conscious about being clean.
If you’re in a relationship, don’t have your significant other over to your place every day. Your roommates might tell you that they don’t mind, but trust me, they do. It’s nothing personal, but it’s hard to fully relax knowing someone who doesn’t live there is around. If you can switch up the location of your hangouts frequently, your roommates will appreciate it.
If you have any problem with your roommates, be sure to address it to them privately rather than let things build up. This is a lot easier said than done, especially for people who are nonconfrontational, but letting things build up will only lead to an explosion and an even worse fallout. If something is bothering you, just say, “Hey, I’m sure it wasn’t intentional or anything, but you’ve been doing this, and it’s been bothering me a little. Can we agree on a resolution?”
This next tip is also much easier said than done, but it’s still worth saying. Clean your dishes as soon as you’re done using them; it’s much easier in the long run. I’m guilty of not doing it right after I’m done eating, but when I do, I feel so much better, and the kitchen sink stays clean. When dishes pile up, it can cause sanitary issues, stink up the apartment and leave a bad impression on your guests.
On days when you have an early class and your roommates don’t, please don’t let any doors slam shut when you’re heading out. I can still vividly remember the most annoyed I’ve ever been in the morning was when I was sound asleep and rudely awoken by our door being slammed shut. It is not hard to brace the impact of the door, but the little things add up.
Moreover, keep the common spaces such as the living room and kitchen clear of any personal belongings. Hanging up your coats, backpacks and packages in common spaces prevents others from comfortably using these spaces. It’s okay to do it when you first walk into the apartment, but don’t leave it out for days on end.
Finally, ask your roommates to do things with you! If you were paired randomly with someone, asking them to grab lunch or get tested together is a great way to start your relationship with them. You’re going to be living with them for at least the next year, so you might as well learn to get along with them.
JJ is a junior in Media.