How To Be A Great Roommate: What Not To Do

While you are probably anxious about meeting your new roommate for the first time, they are probably feeling the same about you. You may be worrying about their habits, personality and living style, but you should also be thinking about your habits, personality and living style as well.

Living in a dorm is all about compromise and sharing, and you wouldn’t want to be the bad roommate, would you?

Two MSU sophomores, Courtney Jarvis and Alex Kann share their stories of roommate nightmares

Remember, this is what not to do!

Alex Kann:

  1. What was the hardest part about having a roommate you didn’t know? “The hardest part is knowing the type of person they are and how they feel about certain things. It can be hard to get to know people.”
  2. If you are having roommate issues, how should you resolve them? “You should talk directly to that person instead of letting it go or talk to your RA. I had a unique situation because my roommate didn’t speak English. So in this case I would try talking to an intercultural or international aid.
  3. What were some issues you had with your roommate? “She would constantly snooze her alarm clock and was inconsiderate in general. She was also not on the same schedule as me. She would be up Skyping when I was trying to sleep and I would always be up when she was sleeping and vice versa. Her hygiene and splitting the chores in the room was always an issue as well. It was hard knowing who’s turn it was to clean, and she would never throw away old fruit to prevent gnats. It was hard to live with someone else who came from a different background and had cultural differences.”

So for Alex, it seemed most of the issues she was having was due to significant cultural differences.

Coming to college means encountering possibly more diversity than you have ever been accustomed to, and adapting is not always easy if you were not raised in a diverse area.

If your roommate is from another country or has trouble speaking English, try to be patient and accepting, remembering that adapting is probably harder for them that it is for you.

However, if the lifestyles of you and your roommate are so different or uncomplimentary that it is affecting your academic or health habits, try speaking with an intercultural aid to help bridge the gap and solve your problems.

Let’s look at another sophomore, Courtney Jarvis who had some very different experiences.

Courtney Jarvis:

  1. What was the hardest part about having a roommate you didn’t know? “In my experience, my first year, first semester roommate was so particular about everything in the room as well as anyone that I would bring over that it was awkward and uncomfortable to live in. It was almost to the extent that I was living in her dorm room, we weren’t living in a mutual space.
  2. If you are having roommate issues, how should you resolve them? I would suggest resolving roommate issues first by being rational and even-tempered when talking to each other. There’s nothing worse than getting into an irrational argument with your roommate then have to go to sleep in the same room after. I would first go to the RA  and ask them how they would approach the issue. It also depends on the issue, if it’s about belongings or an unequal division of help in the room, then it’s a tad easier. If it’s that you just dislike them and they don’t help in the room then try to sit down and think of options together rather than pointing blame.
  3. What were some of the issues you had with your roommate? “Issues I had included my roommate’s boyfriend being over all of the time, my roommate thought my friends were “bad people” and didn’t want them in HER room, there was unequal division of work in the room (cleaning, buying snacks), not asking to use my things (printer, food, office supplies), never leaving the room and refusing to leave (even at 3 a.m. when she’s cramming for an exam and I had an 8:30 a.m. class and needed to sleep), and my roommate would also smoke pot and cigarettes in the room.”

As you can see, Courtney had very different issues than Alex did, but arguably equally annoying ones. One thing to point out is if you are having issues similar to Courtney, you may have to get authority involved. Don’t’ be afraid to have a mediator step in if someone is potentially harming or stealing your things, it’s unacceptable.

Remember incoming freshman, you don’t want to be the roommates described in Courtney and Alex’s accounts. Two words you need to take with you to college: respect and acceptance.

These two concepts need to be mutual between you and your roommate. If you simply remember to respect each other’s space and personal items you will avoid many potential problems. Finally, remember to an extent to be accepting of each other’s life styles and differences, as long as they aren’t interfering with your study habits or basic living needs.

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Madeline Fetchiet

Madeline Fetchiet

Madeline Fetchiet is a sophomore at Michigan State University, studying journalism and philosophy of law. Aside from reporting, Madeline enjoys tae kwon do, reading, writing, researching and traveling, and can be considered a music enthusiast. Madeline currently works as an intern for, and is a banquet server at Travis Pointe Country Club in Ann Arbor, MI. Perfecting the storytelling side of reporting is something she looks forward to in her future career as a journalist.
Madeline Fetchiet

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