By: Katie Kennedy
Having a roommate can be scary, especially if you’re living with someone you don’t know. The idea of living with strangers is not what most people think of as fun, but they don’t have to be strangers forever. Roommates can become lifelong friends, or they can be just someone you share living spaces with, but by following some of these tips and tricks, having roommates can be something you enjoy and not dread.
Communication is Key
In this new living situation, the first step you should take is talking to each other — we are all adults who are capable of communicating. Some important talking points include bills, chores, schedules and expectations. As time goes on, maintain that good communication.
Realize that living with roommates won’t be perfect. There may be things your roommates do that you don’t like. If you have a problem with something someone has said or done, talk to them about it.
“You should mention problems early rather than holding them in,” said David Peach, a third-year business administration major at CSUF.
According to an article by Iowa State University, to effectively confront someone you should describe how you feel and how something has affected you. Be respectful and sensitive when doing so. Handling conflict politely and maturely will be more effective than any other way.
Get to Know Each Other and Bond
Since you are going to be living with these people, you should get to know them. Try to step out of your comfort zone and see what you might have in common. Bonding can be as simple as going shopping for groceries and cooking together.
“Make sure to spend time together outside of the apartment to get to know each other in a fun setting,” said Alyssa Tornell, a third-year cinema and television arts major.
Another fun activity to do together is decorating your new home. Picking out furniture and decorating is an excellent way to bond. My roommates and I have pizza and a movie night every Friday. Anything that you can do as a group will be fun and beneficial. The more things you do together, the more you will get to know each other.
You Don’t HAVE to be Best Friends
Sometimes roommates aren’t meant to be more than roommates. The people you live with can simply just be your roommates. You may want to be acquainted with your roommates, but you don’t have to be the best of friends. My freshman year in the dorms, I never had a deeper conversation than “hi” and “bye” with my roommate.
There may be some roommates that you don’t become close with, but living with them doesn’t have to be a miserable experience. Just because you live together doesn’t mean you must intertwine your lives. You can live very separate lives while living together with no problem at all. Do your thing and let them do theirs.
Don’t be invasive of each other’s privacy. Sharing spaces can be challenging, but being communicative about what everyone is comfortable with can help a lot.
“I sat down with my roommates, and we just talked about what we all would and wouldn’t be OK with, and I think that helped prevent conflict,” said Andrea Casillas, a third-year communications major at CSUF.
It’s OK to have rules. If you don’t want someone using something of yours, just make sure your roommates understand that. If you have specific needs, let that be known. Once the boundaries are set, be mindful of respecting your roommates’ boundaries. When a boundary is crossed, revisit communicating openly.
Have time and space for yourself
Having roommates can feel like you never have time to be alone and taking time for yourself can be a challenge. Take a walk and enjoy the endless amount of space that nature has to offer. Being outside will allow you to move around without feeling confined to your home.
If space allows, you may try and create an area inside your home that is just for you. Use it as a place to escape when you need to be alone. If you can’t do this, find a time when your roommates aren’t home to feel the peace of an empty house.