Many people are fortunate enough to know their assigned roommate, but for those of us who were forced to live with someone they have never met, it can be a difficult transition. The first few weeks — also known as the “honeymoon phase” — wear off pretty quickly, and soon you’re left wondering why things aren’t clicking as you hoped they would.
But don’t panic. Arguments are inevitable, especially as the dust settles and you both adjust to living with each other for the first time. You may have started out as complete strangers, but you have the potential to become the best of friends!
Here are a few pointers on how to survive disagreements and differences with your roommate, so you can finish the semester with a strong friendship!
Talk to your roommate. Be open about your preferences.
Maybe you like having the room super cold, with the AC set to as low as it will go, and you only do your homework between the hours of 7 and 9 am. Maybe you binge-watch “Stranger Things” as a way to relax at night. Regardless of what your specific tastes are, make sure you relay it to your roommate! It’s much better to communicate ahead of time than get completely moved in, to realize they are your polar opposite.
Understand they have a different background than you.
It’s okay that your new roommate has a different upbringing, is from a different state, or has a different home life. College is all about trying new things and learning from people who aren’t the same. That’s the beauty of a random roommate, even though it may seem scary at first. If you are ever lacking in conversation with them, a good place to start is always their major. Chances are, they’re very passionate about their field and would love to talk about how they fell in love with it!
Respect their wishes, as long as they aren’t hurting you.
Like I said earlier, disagreements are going to happen. You won’t always “win” the argument, and that’s okay. Being roommates with someone is literally signing a contract to share your space with someone who may or may not use it the way you would have. Their decorations, music, and temperature may not be your top choice, and that’s okay. As long as their decisions aren’t harming you in any way, they are free to live however they choose, within reason. (Cleanliness of the room, however, is a different story altogether...)
If you get into a disagreement, try to keep a level head.
As much as you hate that they took one of your Easy Mac cups without asking, you have to remember that you are required to live with this person for another semester. Even if it’s difficult to, the gentler, level-headed approach is always best. More often times than not, your roommate means well. You may not see eye-to-eye in the moment, but through communication with them, larger scale arguments can be avoided.
Find common ground, something you both enjoy.
Lastly, and most importantly, find a way to connect with your roommate. For each set, the shared interest or hobby is completely different. Whether it’s the newest trends, a news topic, or a sport, connecting with your roommate in some way makes the transition much easier. It’s so much nicer to be able to find a friend in your roommate, rather than an enemy you wish you didn’t come home to. So take time to build this friendship like you would any other. Try getting to know your roommate’s likes and dislikes, because you’re more alike than you think!
Don’t worry. You can and will survive this semester, roommate struggles and all. Try to keep your head up, and don’t stress too much about it. You and your roommate will be back to being best friends before the week is out.