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Finding Your Perfect Roommate Situation

Sometimes, students discover that rooming with a stranger is better than they ever expected. Suddenly, you're like two peas in a pod!

Laura Magerkurth

February 07, 2014

Finding Your Perfect Roommate Situation
Most new college students seem to find that one of the biggest adjustments they have to make is having a roommate. Even if you’ve bunked with a sibling before, sleeping in the same room as a complete stranger is difficult at first. As we approach the housing sign-up season, try to keep the following questions in mind:

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Are you comfortable with voicing your opinion? When living with another person, it’s certain that you’ll have to be able to assert yourself at times. Whether it’s a simple request (can you put your headphones in?) or a big one (please don’t bring your dates back here at two in the morning), your roommate will have behaviors that interrupt your life.

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If he or she continually asks to use your desk lamp for nighttime studying, gently suggest that they find a cheap one of their own on your next shopping trip. You can feel free to get creative with your solutions to problems if, like me, you aren't comfortable with confrontation. If your roommate has a tendency to make distracting noises, download a white noise app onto your phone or iPod, or even look up white noise soundtracks on YouTube.

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Always remember that it’s your space as well as your roommate’s, and you have just as much of a right to it as your roommate does. What are your sleeping and studying habits like?
Don’t just consider what time you like to hit the sack at night, though. It’s important to find out whether your roommate is a heavy sleeper or someone who wakes at the drop of the hat before you inadvertently wake them up with the coffeepot or the blow dryer in the morning. If you prefer to turn in earlier and you roommate wants to stay up studying, suggest buying a small desk lamp so that both of you can remain in the room and you aren't kept awake by the overhead light. If the glare is still too much for you, consider hanging a decorative curtain or towel to dampen the glare. Is your potential roommate a close friend? While living with good friends can be fun, it’s not always perfect—and not for the reasons you may think. When you cohabit with your best friends, you may find that you actually spend less time together than you did before sharing a living space. The novelty of sharing a space may make hanging out feel not-so special and come Friday and Saturday night it’s possible that you’ll find that you both keep to yourselves. To avoid losing touch, make a pact to spend a certain number of hours together each week and stick to your plan! If you’re splitting an apartment or a house, living together has the potential to become an even bigger issue. You may find that your otherwise wonderful friend is actually terrible with money and spends more on groceries than you had agreed on, or that your roommate likes to leave dirty dishes in the sink to “soak” instead of washing them right away. Issues like this, even if they’re not such a big deal at the time, tend to breed resentment and you may find yourselves growing apart after just a few weeks. Everyone involved has to be willing to bring up any concerns before they affect the friendship. Would you be okay with being assigned a random roommate or living on your own? If all else fails and you can’t find a suitable roommate among your friends, it’s possible to request a random roommate to bunk with you next year. You’ll most likely be matched based on your answers to a confidential questionnaire on your living habits. A costlier option is “buying out” a two-person room so that you’re the only one living there, or if your university has single-person bedrooms, going with one of those. There are benefits and disadvantages to living alone, of course: would you get lonely and sad? Would you end up never socializing? Or would you prefer to have space to yourself where you and your friends can go to relax? Having a roommate is one of the biggest parts of the college experience and it has the potential to be great, but only if you’re willing to be honest with yourself about your wants and needs. May you find the ideal living situation!

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