Written By Kimberly Webber, Resident Programming Assistant (RPA) in Todd/Phibbs
I know you don’t want to hear this, but there really is no one way to prepare to live with a new person for 8 months. He/she may be a perfect stranger, a teammate, a friend, a Facebook acquaintance, a family member… I’ve seen it all during my freshman year and no matter the type of pair, I’ve seen successes and failures across the board. I’ve figured out that the key to roommates is open-mindedness. This applies if you just want to cohabitate peacefully, get along with, or even befriend your roommate (and again, I’ve seen it all happen). I couldn’t find my roommate on Facebook when I found out her name and freaked out for a solid four days until she called me and we talked for an hour and got along so well! It turned out that her page was just private and I shouldn’t have assumed she was some social hermit (because being on Facebook is really getting out in the world…).
Another key is being upfront and honest, without being rude of course. My roommate, the absolutely sweetest girl, moved out at the end of November because I sleep talk. Because this was something that happened sporadically and I couldn’t control, she felt bad confronting me about it. I didn’t find out that she had been having trouble sleeping until TWO DAYS before she moved out! And when she finally did tell me, she was crying and then I started crying—not the ideal situation. She had gone through the whole process of talking to our RA, then RD, then Residence Life to find a new room before I even knew it was a problem. Help out your roommate people: whether he/she/they can control the situation or not, talk it out!
There’s no exact science behind how much you should or shouldn’t talk to your roommate before coming to school, but I would advise talking enough to decide who will bring a microwave, mini-fridge, maybe a rug, or anything else communal you might want—though none of these items are necessary.
Universities don’t just pair new students up to save space and money, though it may seem that way at times. Use this opportunity to practice those skills you learned back in Kindergarten: clean up after yourself, be respectful, communicate effectively, be friendly and open to all. If 5-year-olds can do it, you college kids can figure out living with new roommates—and if you have any problems or questions once you get here, never hesitate to talk to your RA, we’re here for you!