Starting college means meeting a new group of friends, getting used to a new environment, and placing yourself in unfamiliar (and seemingly scary) situations. And that includes your living arrangement. Whether you decide to live with someone you already know or get placed with a random stranger, sharing space with another person — especially in such close quarters — can be tremendously difficult.
I "met" my first college roommate on our school's Facebook page before our freshman year started. After we messaged each other for all of five seconds, we decided to room together. Thankfully, she became one of my best friends and was one of the best parts of my entire college experience, but I knew plenty of people who weren't as lucky. I heard horror stories from my friends about how they hated being in their own living space because their roommate was so terrible. While I couldn't exactly relate, I did learn what to do if your living situation ends up going awry. Here are some tips to coping with a college roommate you don't get along with.
- Take your roommate agreement seriously. It's typical that your Resident Assistant (RA) will have you and your roommate sign an agreement at the beginning of the school year. This document basically sets all of the rules for your room. If you know you like going to bed at a certain time, request that the lights in the room be turned off by a certain time. If you prefer to study in your room rather than in the library, request that the room is a quiet zone during finals week. You both have to agree to the rules that you set, and your RA will help you come to those agreements.
- Communicate with your roommate. I know that this one kind of seems like a given, but you'd be surprised at how many people, especially young adults, forget that communication is often the way you solve a problem. Don't be afraid of confrontation. If you're unhappy with a situation, there's a high chance that your roommate is probably unhappy too. Doing a song and dance to avoid a problem can be more awkward and incredibly more exhausting than it would be if you just addressed it head on.
- Talk to your RA. If speaking with your roommate doesn't result in any changes, don't hesitate to go to your RA. Your RA is there to help, and they've been trained to handle the situation you're in. Chances are they've had their own experience with a bad roommate, too. They can bring up the roommate agreement that you signed at the beginning of the year, serve as a mediator in a meeting between you two, and will strive to help as much as they can to improve the situation for everyone.
- Find your niche on campus. Getting out of the room, even if you don't have a bad roommate, can always help clear your head and put you in a better mood. Finding an area on campus that you love going to means spending less time in your room and more time getting to know the campus that you live on.
- Plug in and tune out. When you're in your room and you don't want to engage in conversation with your roommate, put your headphones in and listen to your favourite playlist or podcast. I don't recommend doing this all of the time, but it can be helpful if you're trying to unwind before bed and just need some peace and time to yourself.
- Know and understand your options. If the situation you're in is simply unlivable, there are ways to wiggle your way out of it. There are often vacancies in other dorms on campus that you might not know about. Always talk to your RA about your options and understand that you won't be forced to live in a situation that takes away from your ability to learn.