Sharing Your Space: How To Get The Most Out Of Your Roommate Experience

Moving out for college can be scary, but transitioning from having your own bedroom to suddenly having to share a [very small] space with a roommate can be even scarier! If you’ve never shared a space with someone else before, the idea of living in a dorm is enough to put anyone on edge.

This time last year, I was in the same position. For the first 18 years of my life I had my own bedroom — I didn’t have any sisters so I never worried about someone “borrowing” my stuff without permission + the bathroom I did share with my siblings was big enough for each of us to have our own space. The thought of all of this suddenly changing so drastically made me uncomfortable at first, but eventually I adapted. Below are four things I learned, first-hand, about living with a roommate for the first time.

[If you’re living in a single dorm + won’t have a roommate, read more about How To Be Your Own Best Roommate]

#1] Your roommate doesn’t have to be your best friend

One of the biggest stressors when choosing a college, for me, was the thought of leaving my friend group from high school behind. While I did know a couple of people going to Ohio University with me, it was still terrifying to start a new chapter of my life without the group of girls I had called sisters for the past four years. On top of that, I didn’t know anyone from Cincinnati that I could room with freshman year. So, like most unsure + nervous freshmen, I took to the ‘Ohio University Class of 2021’ Facebook group. I uploaded a few pictures, wrote a short bio + hoped at least one person would comment. Some time passed + eventually I met my current roommate. We were from different parts of the city, but I was grateful to have met someone I would be going to school with. The process of getting to know someone is something that I had taken for granted until I met my roommate. I had become so comfortable with the people in my hometown that we already knew everything about each other. Finding a roommate that was not a prior best friend made me appreciate the opportunity I had to meet someone new + take the time to get to know her.

#2] Be respectful of shared things

My roommate + I have the same style, wear the same size shoe ++ are usually going out to the same social events. This can make for a lot of “can I borrow this?” + “are you wearing this tonight?” Like I said before, I had never shared clothes or shoes with anyone up until now.  My roommate + I were usually generous when it came to loaning the other person our stuff for a night, but I realize now the only reason we were able to do this so graciously is because each of us had a mutual respect for the other one’s belongings. Before lending your favorite jacket to your roommate [or asking to borrow hers] make sure you both have this understanding.

#3] Basic housekeeping is a necessity

Housekeeping is one of the most important things when sharing a room with someone + is something that needs to be discussed almost immediately upon move in. Everyone has different levels of clean // things they feel need to be done, so be sure to sit down + discuss your standards [in detail!] with your roommate. Some people like to have a set schedule for who takes out the trash on what days or who sweeps the floor + how often. If a schedule works for you + your roommate, then I highly recommend establishing it as soon as you’re both moved into the room. Above all else, just remember you’re both living in the space, so you’re both in charge of your living conditions. Staying on top of housekeeping will save a lot of headaches [+ arguments] in the future!

#4] It’s okay to *agree to disagree*

My roommate is one of my best friends – but that doesn’t mean we don’t have our fair share of disagreements. Living in such close quarters with someone for an entire school year means you’re bound to get on each other’s nerves from time to time. When this happens, it’s best for each of you to take some space for yourself. Communication is so important when living with roommates, so once you’ve had your space apart make sure you openly communicate about what started the argument + how to prevent it in the future! Just because you’re living together doesn’t mean you have to be with each other every minute of every day. Taking time for yourself is essential no matter what your living situation is. Find a spot on campus that can be your go-to [mine is any of the many local coffee shops] + whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed, take time to reflect on what’s going on in your life ++ get back in touch with your mental wellbeing.

Living with a roommate for the first time can be tough, but we hope these tips will ease some tension. What are your best tips to living with a roommate? Comment below!

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