I often tell people that I got really lucky when it came to my college roommates. My freshman year I was randomly placed with a roommate who eventually became one of my closest friends. We spent hours talking about our childhoods, and our high school and college frustrations. We loved shopping together, we ate together, we joined the ultimate frisbee team together.
While I did get lucky in getting such a cool roommate, I don’t think it was just luck. My college roommate and I are incredibly different people with very different schedules and interests. But we were intent on becoming friends instead of getting stuck in an uncomfortable living situation for a year.
While I can’t guarantee that you’ll like your roommate, here are some suggestions for how to try and make your college living situation the best it can be:
1. Don’t prepare for the worst
- [Image description: A girl sharing a secret with her friend.] Via Unsplash
I went into college terrified of having a difficult roommate, but on move in day I walked in expecting to make a friend. Being determined to forming a friendship helped me enter the relationship with an open mind, so that I could pay attention to my roommate’s positive traits instead of latching on to her flaws.
2. Be willing to put in some effort
- [Image description: A picture of students in a university library.] Via Unsplash
Most of the time, friendships don’t just magically happen. It takes some work and a lot of communication. It’s important to actively find common interests or to share common experiences. On the first day of orientation, my roommate and I decided to skip the welcome speech, but were caught by an RA. We begrudgingly headed over to where we thought the speech was happening, only to realize we were walking on stage behind the president—with all cameras pointing at us. It wasn’t the most embarrassing experience ever, but it gave us something to bond over.
3. Look up your personality types
- [Image description: A few people huddled around a laptop.] Via Unsplash
My college required everyone to take the Myers-Briggs personality test before coming to school and gave us information about each personality type. We even had papers saying things like, “if you’re an extrovert, here’s what living with an introvert will be like”. Because my roommate and I had completely opposite personality types, it was helpful to talk about our differences. We were able to spot possible problem areas long before they became an issue.
4. Be flexible
- [Image description: A picture of a weekly planner on an iPad.] Via Unsplash
I get that people have varying schedules and preferences when it comes to living situations. However, when you’re living with a roommate it’s so important to acknowledge that you are two unique people living together, and neither of you should have to live under the other’s rule. I’m a morning person and my roommate was a major night owl.
One time, I tried to wait up for her to come back from work but soon, I realized that both of us would be happier if we just stuck to our regular schedules. We decided to use fairy lights, lamps, and flashlights to get around without bothering the other with the main lights and learned where the squeakiest patches of floor were so the other wouldn’t wake up.
5. Make mutual friends
- [Image description: A group of friends sitting together.] Via Unsplash
I think one of the things that made our friendship stick was finding mutual friends. Having a group made it easier to deal if there ever were conflicts or frustrations between us, and it also opened doors for a lot more fun activities that don’t work with just two people.
6. Do those lame sounding freshman activities
- [Image description: Two girls sitting in uniform talking to each other.] Via Unsplash
I know a lot of college students hate the idea of admitting to being freshman and doing the planned activities during orientation and throughout the school year. I’m telling you to stop trying to look cool and go to every activity you can. My roommate and I had so much fun doing scavenger hunts across campus and making it a point to get as much free food as possible. We also often won, and nothing is better for a friendship that winning competitions together.
7. Talk to each other
- [Image description: Two girls talking to each other.] Via Unsplash
This last point is important. If there’s a problem, bring it up. Don’t try to sweep things under the rug because they’ll just keep growing and causing resentment and frustration. Be kind but be honest and find ways together to improve your friendship instead of awkwardly living with a stranger.