College is a very exciting time for everyone. You’re leaving home for the first time, you get to make new friendships and memories, and experience it all in a brand-new city or state. Besides getting a degree and learning all that you can in class, college is a time for learning about yourself. You will find out a lot about human nature when you live with a new group of people that you never have before. Whether you have shared a room with a sibling or not, sharing a room with a complete stranger is an entirely new obstacle that mostly everyone has to face. Everyone that has gone to college has faced roommate struggles whether they were best friends with their roommate or not.
1. Breaking the Ice
One of the main parts about orientation at your college is getting to know new people and establishing some sort of comfort level for yourself. It can be very hard to meet absolute strangers that you are expected to cohabitate with. The stress of getting along and the expectation of being best friends with your roommate can be overwhelming. The best advice is to not force anything or anyone to be your friend. Let things happen naturally and always be kind. Set boundaries and rules for your living space so that nothing is left up in the air and hard conversations can always be addressed in the future. This is one of the best ways to avoid major roommate struggles.
2. Buying Items for The Dorm/Decorating
Sometimes the most exciting part about having a dorm room for the first time is getting to decorate it. Usually, you can decorate your side of the room with no issues faced with your roommate because you both have the right to decorate your desk and bed as you please. But if you go to a school with apartment style dorms, you will have to buy kitchenware, bathroom supplies, and other household items to be shared with your roommate. It can be difficult at these times deciding who is going to buy what and if you are going to split some of the costs. Again, make sure you have everything out in the open. Never be afraid to tell your roommate what you are comfortable with and what you aren’t comfortable with.
3. You’re a Night Owl and They Are an Early Bird
When you like to stay up all night, but your roommate likes to head in early to wake up early, that can become one of the biggest roommate struggles. Conflicting sleep schedules can cause a lot of turmoil between roommates. It was the underlying issues for a lot of problems between my friends and myself. One person wants to stay up and read with their light on, but it was causing the other person to not be able to fall asleep for an early class. As long as you are communicating with your roommate in a respectful manner, no one will get upset. The worst thing to do is to be passive aggressive and harbor bad feelings over something so silly as a light being on late in the night.
4. Making New Friends
If you and your roommate are not destined to be best friends, it is not the end of the world. Trust me. As long as you can cohabitate with someone and respect their space, you should never have serious drama with your roommate. It can be difficult when you or your roommate start to make new friends on your floor, and the other person is not. It is no one’s fault when this circumstance happens but you should always make sure to include your roommate in plans so that no one feels left out. Even if they say no, at least you can feel good about the fact that you never left someone in the dust.
5. Learning to Get Along
Sometimes you and your roommate’s personalities will not click at all. And that’s okay! You will learn that in life, not everyone will like you and you will not like everyone. If it comes to a point where it is unbearable to live with the person and you are stuck in a toxic situation, then seek out help from your Residential Advisor. If you can live with the person, use this opportunity as a learning experience and grow from the fact that you can live with someone you aren’t compatible with, but you can respect them and their space from a distance.
6. Sharing A Kitchen/Bathroom
Roommate struggles of sharing a kitchen and bathroom with a stranger are real. If you are super clean and they aren’t, someone will be living in their own personal hell. You want to be able to make it clear with your roommate that cleaning these spaces is important and that it should be divided equally. No one wants to have the dirty room on the floor.
7. Too Many Visitors
One of the best parts about college is all the new friends you are going to make. It’s so much fun to invite your friends over to your room and hang out whenever you want. It can get tricky though if you or your roommate likes to have more alone time than the other. If one of you is prone to having a lot of visitors over all the time, that can make the other person upset. Again, make sure you know to set those boundaries in the beginning and do not hold back about things that bother you. If you like the room to be quiet at certain times, ask your roommate if it would be okay for them to go to someone else’s room to hang out. Everyone needs their personal space to be respected. This is one of the biggest roommate struggles someone can encounter.
8. Being Too Close of Friends
We’ve talked about the issues of not being close to your roommate and cohabitating with someone you don’t really see eye to eye with. Though sometimes, there are issues with being too close to your roommate. If your new roommate ends up being your best friend, that is a wonderful and very lucky thing to have. But sometimes constant togetherness can be too much. If you two are always together, there are chances that you will get annoyed with each other; just like you would with your siblings. Being able to have groups of friends without one another is good and healthy for your relationship to flourish.
9. Online Bullying
In this day and age, most people are likely to air their woes online than they are in person. I and many of my friends have faced that more in college than in high school or middle school. The worst thing you can do when you are having roommate problems is to broadcast it on social media. At this point, it can become cyberbullying. You do not want to get tangled into that web because there can be serious consequences. Again, if you and your roommate are not seeing eye to eye, seek the advisement of your RA. Most of the time, they have ways of dealing with the issues you are facing and can help you take the next steps.
10. Being in their Shadow
If you and your roommate are inseparable, congratulations! You have hopefully found yourself a lifelong friend and will not have to endure any of the roommate struggles. As mentioned before, it is okay and healthy to have separate groups of friends aside from your roommate. When it comes to having the same group of friends as your roommate, sometimes someone can feel left out. If you or your roommate find more ease in making new friends or being the center of attention, the other person can feel like they are in the other person’s shadow. Make sure to always be conscious of the other person’s feelings and you will avoid an issue in someone feeling like a wallflower.
11. Your Roommate Parties Way Too Much
College is the most fun time of your life because usually partying is celebrated. You don’t live home with your parents anymore and in the public, you are deemed to be an adult. Going to parties is a great way to make memories and new friends at school. But there is a balance to partying and school that you need to uphold. If your roommate parties too much and falls into the hole of placing partying over studies, then it can become an issue for both of you. If one of you stays in on a weekday to get up for a test but the other person is out all night, coming home late, and maybe even bringing someone back to the room unexpectedly, this can cause tension. If you find yourself uncomfortable in this scenario and you worry about your roommate’s behavior, see if you can help them in any way. Usually, when someone parties that much, it can mean something deeper. Always be in tune with your roommate, especially if you are close friends, and trust your gut if something doesn’t feel right. Conflicting personalities is one of the biggest roommate struggles.
12. Wanting to Change Roommates
If your relationship with your roommate is so toxic that it is past the point of fixing, you will need to figure out the steps to changing your roommate. It can be a very stressful and anxious time in your life, but once you get through it, you will feel a thousand times better. Usually, this change is better for both of you. It will be hard to face those difficult conversations with your roommate about parting ways, but it will be a learning lesson for you that not all relationships will be your best ones. You have to find the best ways through your roommate struggles in order to create a happy and fun experience for yourself while you are in college.