By: Tatiana Maya Olea, Class of 2020
Moving to college is exciting, but can also be a bit nerve racking. College is a new experience — It’s a change of environment, a change of friends and a change of lifestyle.
Part of feeling nervous about beginning college, is the new roommate situation. Before moving into college, I watched many YouTube videos about college roommate stories and heard many horror stories as well.
However, from personal experience, and friends input, I have gathered some steps that can establish a healthy and friendly living environment.
Patience is a virtue
Remember, it is going to take time to get used to living with a new person. This way of living is new to everyone involved. People come from different backgrounds, and are raised differently.
Be patient and understand that people have a different living lifestyle. Creating a healthy environment may not happen quickly.
It’s okay to set some boundaries
Set boundaries as soon as possible when it comes to living with someone new. Know what you and your roommates are all comfortable and uncomfortable with. As mentioned, people were raised differently and have different ways of living. By setting boundaries, people’s comfort levels are known among all the roommates.
You can run into problems easily if you do not set boundaries. I had a friend freshman year that came across a problem with her roommate, due to not setting boundaries. My friend is not the most outgoing person and she likes to avoid conflict as much as possible.
She liked her roommate, but a couple of months in something was bothering her. She would come to me and tell me how it bothered her when her roommate would leave her mess on their shared spaces. My friends explained the mess her roommate made was not much at all. Her roommate would sometimes have bowl of cereal, use a cup to have juice, and leave it on top of the shared counter, which they used as a pantry.
This was a not a huge problem, but it did bother my friend and made her a bit uncomfortable. Eventually my friend ended up telling her roommate it bothered her, and her roommate completely understood.
Because they didn’t set boundaries, and did not know each other’s comfort level, the roommate did not know setting leaving her dirty dishes on their shared space bothered her. This problem could have been avoided by setting boundaries, but setting boundaries after helped fix the issue. This is why it is important to set boundaries as soon as you can with your roommates.
Respect is key!
Once boundaries are set, it is important to respect those boundaries. Having mutual respect for each other’s space, time and personal items makes the living situation much easier.
Respect others, and others will respect you! You can’t expect your roommate to respect your boundaries, if you don’t respect theirs!
Communication, communication, communication
You may have heard this is many other aspects of life; however, it is incredibly important to keep this in mind when creating a healthy living space.
The only way people know what makes others comfortable or uncomfortable, is if you say something.
If something bothers you, let your roommates know.
If you are unsure about anything— ask.
I have another friend who had another small problem with her roommate. Again, my friend liked her roommate, but a couple of months in she noticed she was the only one taking out the trash. This again not the biggest problem roommates can have, but it did bother my friend. My friend took the approach of not letting her know the trash was bothering her, and decided to leave the trash there until she took it out. She waited a couple of days to see if her roommate would take out their trash. She did not. This only bothered my friend more.
It wasn’t until my friend brought it up to her roommate that the situation got solved. The roommate had no clue it bothered her. The roommate explained that every time she did notice the trash was full she had the intention to take it out her way out, but when she would leave she would forget to take the trash out. They agreed to take turns taking out the trash and the roommate also agreed to be more aware about the trash being full.
Their problem was solved through communication. People don’t always know how you feel or if something is bothering you unless you say something. If an issue does come, you cannot fix it without communication. Great communication is the key to creating a healthy living environment and a healthy relationship with your roommate.
The best part about having a new roommate is the opportunity to make a new friend!
Many people are lucky enough to become great friends with their college roommates, friendships that can last a lifetime! Although this may not end up being the case of you, I hope these steps guide you to set up a healthy roommate environment.