How to avoid being an annoying roommate… if necessary

There are plenty of fears weighing on the minds of freshmen around the world this week.  Most first-year students are nervous about how difficult they’ll be graded or finding their way around campus without looking like a tourist.  Despite these worries, ranking in at the top of their fear list is the fact that they’re about to be randomly paired with a stranger with whom they need to spend a year.

It’s normal to be anxious about being assigned to a 10 x 12 room with a person you don’t know.  The situation is nerve-wracking to say the least. Will they be a slob? Smell weird? Go to bed at 8 p.m.? Steal your stuff?

I apologize for sounding pessimistic, but unless you and your roomie are a match made in heaven (or incredibly weird), you won’t wind up savoring every moment the two of you share. There will be times you wish they were studying anywhere in the universe other than your room.  Week after week you’ll wish you didn’t suffer from their decision to sign up for an 8:00 class.  And I guarantee you won’t have an abundance of space or privacy. 

Nerves are running high, so I hope to calm some of these jitters and give some sound advice on living with a roommate. Your new room will be very similar to living with Mom and Dad, only without a whirlpool, California King bed, or a huge refrigerator that stocks itself.  But if you’re lucky, your roommate will furnish the room with a nice, big rug.

Here are some tips to make the transition go smoothly:

Kick off the year attempting to be the best roommate possible.
Since there’s no way to avoid them, you should try to get to know your assigned buddy.  What are their hobbies? Likes? Dislikes?  At the very least, you should know what they’re going to school for (besides seeing how many dates they can line up in a week).

Try to respect them as much as possible. 
Even if that becomes difficult, the least you can do is keep your side of the room clean.

Take the roommate agreement seriously.
Most students treat the roommate agreement as a joke. Why bother actually brainstorming rules and writing them down? Seems a little nerdy, doesn’t it? Yeah, it’s nerdy alright, but it’s also a really good idea. Be upfront with expectations but be willing to compromise.  The two of you should be able to reach an agreement.

Be respectful of their schedule. 
If they sleep until 3 p.m., wait until they get out of bed before you pop in your Richards Simmons DVD and start bouncing around the room.  If they’re studying, use your IPod to listen to tunes instead of testing out the subs you hooked up to your Mac.

You get the idea. Starting the year with a solid attempt at being a good roommate is a good idea for more than one reason.  First, you get off on the right foot, and second, if they don’t show you the same respect, you don’t have to feel guilty about returning the favors.

If you find your roomie doesn’t give a 29 cent college-ruled notebook about your wellbeing, stop going out of your way to make them happy.  If they stay up until 5 a.m. playing World of Warcraft and talking to themselves, feel free to bang an extra drawer or two after you reluctantly roll out of bed at 7:30 a.m. for your group meeting.

No matter how bad it gets, here are a list of tempting revenge routes that you should never act upon:

-Call their parents to give a full report on how terrible of a student he/she is

-Snoop through their stuff

-Lock them out of the room when you know they’re in the shower

-Make them feel unwelcome.  The room belongs to both of you – requesting for extra space during a movie night with your new flame is unreasonable.

-Bring in a pet or other dorm-illegal item and ask the roommate to take partial responsibility

-Eat their entire box of Pop Tarts and return the empty box

-Zonk out in their bed after an intense workout because you no longer have the energy to shower, let alone climb up your loft­­­­.

 -Use their toothbrush to scrub the sink drain and place it back in the toothbrush holder

Good luck roommates! I hope it works out well for you. Just remember, another year, another roommate… and the option to live alone.

Shootin’ the Wit is a column about everyday life which should never, ever be taken too seriously.

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