I can hardly believe it’s been
10, 12, 15, 18 (!) years this month since I moved into my freshman dorm and began my illustrious college career at Missouri State University (dudes, I’m so old, my school actually had a different name when I was a student there). Back when I moved from Germany to Springfield, Missouri, I knew NO ONE in my new college town and was just a wee bit nervous about meeting — and living with — my new roommate. She came from Colorado and also knew no one, and, while we had a few early bumps in the road, we had more laughs and good times in that first year of college than I had in all the years of high school before. For all your soon-to-be freshman, here are a few tips to ensure that you, too, get along with your new roommate and enjoy a fabulous first year of college:
1. Touch base now.
Your college or university has probably assigned you a roommate and notified you about whom he or she is. Armed with a name, and possibly a phone number and email address, you can — and should — contact your new roommie and introduce yourself. Exchanging information like which one of you will bring a coffee maker, who has a TV, and what color your bedding is, and will go a long way in not only preparing you in a practical sense for sharing what will likely be a tiny space with a stranger, but it will help break the ice for the first face-to-face meeting. If you can friend each other on Facebook or find one another on Twitter or some other social networking site, you can also see whether you two share any mutual contacts or common interests, like stalking people on Facebook, which can provide a good conversation starter and launching point for what will hopefully be a successful roommate relationship. “You stalk people on Facebook? Dude, so do I!” Boom: Kindred spirits.
2. Don’t make rules, but do negotiate.
Some people will advise you to “make rules” with your roommate about when it’s time to turn the lights off, how often you can have guests over, and what kind of music you can play. That’s lame. Who wants someone she just met telling her how many friends she can invite over or what time she has to go to bed? A better way of creating a comfortable living environment is by modeling how you’d like to be treated, acknowledging when you’re compromising yourself for the good of your roommate relationship, and clearly communicating your deal-breakers. For example, if you’re a night owl and would prefer to stay awake with the lights and music on until 4 in the morning, but know your roommate goes to bed at 11, let her know that you’re willing to accommodate her, but since Justin Bieber is a deal-breaker for you, you’d appreciate it if she’d either listen to him when you’re out or with head phones when you’re home. The key here is deciding what you absolutely can’t live with and what you are willing to give up or offer in exchange for ensuring you don’t have to live with it/Justin Bieber.
3. Create some roommie rituals.
Back when I was a freshman, my roommate, who had a car, invited me along to get Chinese take-out with her late one night. Never one to turn down a pile of greasy rice with a side of egg rolls, I took her up on her offer. We brought our Cashew Chicken back to our room, turned on Letterman, and just like that, a tradition was born. Chinese food and Letterman became our ritual once or twice a week for the next eight months. It was murder on our waistlines — I gained 20 pounds that year — but great for forming a bond.
It’s probably best to let your own roommate ritual develop organically like ours did. It will start with a fun shared experience and become a tradition when you repeat that experience — either purposefully or by accident — at least three times. For the sake of your hot bod, I’d recommend staying away from anything that involves a drive-thru or a blinking neon sign out front.
4. Make other friends!
Making your roommate your lifeline can be especially tempting for shy freshman, but doing so almost guarantees tension and resentment. You need space from each other — besides just going to different classes during the day — and the only way to create that space is by forming friendships with other people.
5. Eat your meals separately.
This piggybacks the last point. If you’re having trouble making other friends, the best way to ensure you don’t abuse the roommate lifeline is to eat your meals at a different time and different location than her. Even if it means eating alone, do it. Even if it means sitting at a table in a dining hall with a bunch of people you don’t know, do it. Alone, you’ll be more approachable than being seen with the same person every day in a way that may make it seem you’re an impenetrable duo. Of course, you don’t have to eat every meal apart, but a good rule of thumb is to eat 75% of your meals separately in the first semester.
6. Invest in some good earphones.
And use them when you want to listen to something loud or drown out something annoying (including the sound of your roommate using the word “like” eight times a minute).
7. Save sexy times for when your roommate’s not home.
You know what’s awkward? Hearing — or worse, seeing — your roommate having sex in the bed three feet from yours. That doesn’t exactly foster congenial relations, so while it may be convenient in the short-term, be respectful and keep your rolls in the hay out of your roommie’s way. Learn each other’s schedules and plan your romps when the other will be gone, and utilize other places, like your partner’s room/ apartment, the back of your car, and that out-of-the-way corner of the library you’ve heard rumors about.
8. Don’t talk shit.
Resist the urge to vent about your roommate to mutual friends. College is a small world and your social circle is even tinier. Everything you say will get back to the person you’re talking about. So when you have to vent, do so with people who don’t know or aren’t close with your roommate, like your hometown friends, your family, or the magical tour guide you meet every time you do bong hits with your study group from chemistry class.
9. Focus on behavior, not personality.
Your roommate is going to annoy you, this is a given. Even if you’re lucky and the two of you hit it off and become best friends forever, she’s still going to annoy you from time to time. Maybe she’s a slob or a talks on her phone all the time or she spends an entire Saturday watching “Jersey Shore” marathons. You should definitely be assertive and talk to her about these issues, but instead of framing the issues as defining personality quirks (i.e. “You’re a slob!” or “You have terrible taste in TV,”), focus on the behavior, how it affects you, and present a polite request to modify said behavior (i.e. “You’ve been leaving your dirty laundry in piles on the floor lately and since we have to share such limited space, it’s been making me a little anxious. Would you mind putting your laundry in the hamper in the corner?”). And if the thought of being assertive fills your with dread, soften the request with a peace offering like … some Chinese takeout. I’m telling you: greasy rice and a side of egg rolls does wonders for roommate relations.
10. Buy shower shoes.
OK, so this one isn’t so much about getting along with your roommate, but it bears mentioning and repeating for anyone heading off to college. Those dorm bathrooms are pretty nasty and investing in a few cheap pairs of flip flops that you wear only in the shower may just be the best 20 bucks you spend all year.
rachel August 7, 2012, 1:10 pm
This great! My dorm roommate actually moved out of our room after a couple of months, so I didn’t have to deal with a lot of this stuff. But great tips.
rachel August 7, 2012, 1:11 pm
And…it was 10 years ago for me. Yikes.
Addie Pray August 7, 2012, 4:45 pm
It was 15 years ago for me. FML.
kerrycontrary August 7, 2012, 1:15 pm
Great tips! I think living in the freshman dorms teaches you how truly weird people can be, but its a great experience because it makes you learn how to deal with others who may drive you crazy. Freshman year of college was 7 (!!) years ago for me and sometimes I still wish I could go back. It was one of the best years of my life, so enjoy it and soak up every moment.
jlyfsh August 7, 2012, 1:22 pm
it’s been 12 years for me, so hard to believe! these are great tips, especially the flips flops. this list kind of makes me want to go back to school shopping.
the only other tip i have is not to live with your friends from high school your first year. probably too late for that tip at this point though! i had two friends who did this and regretted it.
i had the best RA freshman year. my best friends from college all came from my floor freshman year. she planned lunch once a week for us and monthly ‘field trips’. a few people never came and i always felt like they missed out. most of those lunches and field trips were with two other RAs and their girls from other dorms. so if you get the chance to do stuff like that, just go.
jlyfsh August 7, 2012, 1:27 pm
oh and Wendy my college changed names the year after I graduated. I always feel so weird when I hear people talk about it. I still have one sweatshirt with the school’s old name on it and it just got a hole. It made me so sad!
kerrycontrary August 7, 2012, 1:38 pm
I second the “don’t live with people you know”. All the girls who did this didn’t make any new friends! Same goes for the majority of people who come into college with their bf/gf attending the same college. Everyone else is just as scared to live with a stranger, but you will all get through it.
theattack August 7, 2012, 1:58 pm
It’s also best to avoid living with your friends because you don’t want to end up hating each other, especially when you don’t have any other friends yet!
famous_blue_raincoat August 7, 2012, 2:36 pm
So true! I lived with my best friend in an apartment close to school the first year. At first it was all fun marathon dance sessions in the living room but it QUICKLY devolved into passive aggressive attacks about the dishes, and cooking and cleaning and OMG you don’t do ANYTHING, EVER I HATE YOU! lol we’re friends now but had to take a long break from each other after that experience.
6napkinburger August 7, 2012, 2:44 pm
All you green people, please don’t kill me, but…
The BEST thing you can do to improve the odds of having a good relationship with your roommates are to use plastic silverware and paper plates. By far. Dishes are the number one reason of roommate hostility. Everyone feels like they are ALWAYS the ones to wash them, if its a shared thing, and everyone always feels like their roommates NEVER clean their dishes, if each does their own. It is a true problem, not a fake, silly problem. Many many many friendships have died over dishes.
Do yourselves a favor — use disposable. (Though freshman year, you’re really on a mealplan and probably only have 1 plate, one cup and ones set of silverware anyway, you’d be surprised– it can still be an issue).
jlyfsh August 7, 2012, 2:57 pm
the only issue you have their is when you have a roommate who refuses to take out the trash! one of my roommates maybe took the trash out a handful of times the entire year we lived together. we even tried to bring it up and were treated like we were crazy. so there are a million things you can disagree about.
you have to learn to communicate with people and be considerate!
don’t leave a ton of your dishes in the sink. especially if it’s the sink you brush your teeth in and get ready by. sure you may not have time to wash it, so make a space somewhere in your part of the room to keep dirty dishes until you get back from class and clean them.
jlyfsh August 7, 2012, 2:58 pm
ughh wrong there!
L August 7, 2012, 1:25 pm
I was a freshman RA for two years in college so I know a thing or two about roommate relationships. I agree with everything Wendy said and I have a couple more things to add.
DON’T expect your roommate to become your college BFF. Some pairs do end up becoming extremely close — in fact, some of the girls I mentored ended up rooming together for the rest of their college careers. Realize that you need to be polite to each other but not necessarily best friends. Girls especially tend to come to college with the expectation that their roommate will become their automatic new best friend. You really just need to be able to live in the same space without killing each other.
If something bothers you about your roommate, don’t just expect it to get better. Talk to her about it if you’re comfortable, but if you aren’t comfortable with that kind of thing, have a mediated discussion with your roommate and your RA present. That’s what RAs are there for.
BecBoo84 August 7, 2012, 2:44 pm
As a former RA, I can say that any small scale issues should be discussed between the two of you. After all, this in an important first step in adulthood, and part of being an adult is learning how to discuss things that are bothering you in a level-headed way. It used to drive me nuts when residents would come in my room complaining about rather small things, and they expected me to resolve the issue instead of even trying to talk to their roommate themselves first.
L August 7, 2012, 3:01 pm
BecBoo, I agree with you. Whenever those types of girls would come to me I would do my best to empower them to talk to their roommates by themselves first. There was one particular roommate situation that I dealt with where they had tried to talk about the small issues, but they still didn’t see eye to eye on anything and those small issues became a MUCH bigger problem. I had to sit them down on my futon and talk it through with them in order for things to be resolved effectively. What ended up happening was one of those girls ended up moving down the hall to an empty space because they just couldn’t resolve their issues.
Though the small issues ultimately shouldn’t be handled by the RA, when girls came to me with those insignificant problems I was happy that my residents were comfortable coming to me and confiding in me.
Alecia August 7, 2012, 1:30 pm
Wendy, as always you provide great advice and I agree. I didn’t have a full time roommate freshmen year until about October and I didn’t ask for her. She had moved out of another dorm because of roommate issues (red flag!) and came to my dorm 48 hrs after Campus Housing emailed me about it. I had no say. She was nice but soon I saw who she really was. She was messy, snuck around alcohol which is not allowed (I tried to tell on her but the dorm staff was really dumb about it since it wasn’t a major offense, I just wanted not to get in trouble for her stupidity), and slept forever. On the other hand, I’m by no means neat but I kept my room looking presentable and had 8 o’clock classes. I remember one day I came back from my 8am and was cleaning up a bit and she went crazy on me because I was interrupting her sleep by making noise with the trash and recycling bin. I ignored her. It was about 9 in the morning, she needed to get a grip on real life and get up. We got on each others’ nerves so much she finally moved in with a friend on the floor below. I can’t tell you how happy I was and we never saw each other again except in passing. While I hope that doesn’t happen to people I learned in the meantime you should probably set boundaries before things get this bad.
BecBoo84 August 7, 2012, 2:45 pm
I don’t think sleeping until 9 am is that late by college standards. In fact, before having kids, I would still almost always sleep until 9 or 10 on weekends.
bethany August 7, 2012, 2:51 pm
Pretty sure most college freshman sneak in alcohol! I know I did it a ton of times!!
Note to freshman- bottle of vodka in a trumpet case! They’ll never suspect it 🙂
BecBoo84 August 7, 2012, 3:01 pm
Yes on that one, too! That is part of the college experience.
jlyfsh August 7, 2012, 3:07 pm
yeah i think this is pretty standard for most college freshman 🙂 they really didn’t care as long as you didn’t flaunt it.
we did however have a few guys kicked out for alcohol and pot freshman year. we had a meeting afterward where the RAs basically said something like please don’t be stupid and we won’t have to report you. the guys thought they were too ‘cool’ to get in trouble and they thought if they did their parents would fix it. these of course were the same kids who wanted to be treated like ‘adults’.
mandalee August 7, 2012, 4:13 pm
We used to roll our alcohol we bought from the liquor store that never carded in laundry baskets. The laundromat was right next to the liquor store so no one ever second guessed it lol
kerrycontrary August 7, 2012, 3:08 pm
Yeh I have to agree that sleeping until 9 in college is normal, as is alcohol. I would also try to be quiet (aka not take out the trash) if my roomate was sleeping, even if it was 2pm.
krissy August 7, 2012, 3:31 pm
haha, I would definitely have not been your ideal roommate! I slept until noon often, and stayed up until 2 or 3am. All my classes were in the evening and I was a total night owl. I also enjoyed the occasional drink in the dorms. Just goes to show that it’s a total crapshoot whether you will get a compatible roommate or not!
6napkinburger August 7, 2012, 1:33 pm
For people who need to tune out their roommates, along with the headphones, I HIGHLY recommend the SimplyNoise App. It’s been a life saver at work. It has 4 different types of “white noise” (pink, brown and yellow noise) that are more soothing than white noise. Seriously, try it.
Also, I totally agree about both the rituals and the other friends things. Something else to keep in mind is that for most people, the people they are friends with for the first 3 months of college are not who they stay super close with. That usually happens out of desperation to make friends, rather than actual compatibility, so allow your friend group to grow and change naturally and don’t be too hurt if your friends start branching out too.
Lindsay August 7, 2012, 1:34 pm
Good advice. Unfortunately, at my school, the dining hall wasn’t really a place to make new friends. I’m not sure if it was because it was such a big school or the fact that most of the tables were four-person tables, but someone approaching you at your table was just as likely as a stranger in a restaurant sitting down at your table. But if you’ve got long tables and maybe a smaller student body, it definitely seems like branching out and eating without your roommate could be helpful.
theattack August 7, 2012, 1:35 pm
This is an extremely good list. Probably one of your best, Wendy! Lots of stuff that freshmen don’t think about because they’ve never dealt with it, and once they screw it up, it’s too late to turn back.
I never had an actual roommate in college (only apartment-mates), but I had one in high school during a dorky academic summer program for nerds, and it was one of the most dramatic experiences I’ve ever had. She found my journal, read it, and then wrote about its contents on her Myspace blog where everyone else in the program could read it too. It was humiliating. I recommend a small lock box for things that you absolutely do not want anyone else to get a hold of: journals, dildos, expensive jewelry, etc.
MsMisery August 7, 2012, 1:54 pm
Re: the lockbox. And any Rx meds you are on. Keep them in there or on your person.
Wendy August 7, 2012, 1:39 pm
That almost made the list, actually, so I’m glad you mentioned it here. Keep journals and other sacred stuff locked up!
sobriquet August 7, 2012, 4:02 pm
I would say to keep valuables in general locked up. Or at least keep a good track on them. Even if your roommate is trustworthy, she may have friends who are not. A friend of mine got his iPod stolen by one of his roomie’s friends. Luckily, he had the box and the serial code and was able to get it back, but not without a lot of hassle.
theattack August 7, 2012, 1:37 pm
Oh, and I just got home from taking my very last exam in undergrad! That is, assuming I passed it. It’s been five and a half years, but it’s (hopefully) over!
bethany August 7, 2012, 1:45 pm
Freshman year was 13 years ago for me… It feels like yesterday though!
My freshman year they overbooked the dorms and I got stuck with a triple in a room that was meant to be a double. Yes, 3 people in a room that was, at max 200 square feet. I have no idea how we did it, but we made it work, and when a room opened up so one of us could move out, we opted to stay in the triple because we liked it so much.
I think the key to having a successful roommate relationship is respect. Mutual respect. Think of how your actions will affect your roommate, and you should be ok!
*HmC* August 7, 2012, 3:19 pm
Wow, 13 years for me too! I didn’t even realize that until I read your comment. Ah, now I’m getting all nostalgic… my first taste of super high speed internet, no television at all, lots of constant IMing on aol (with people right down the hall), tons of stolen music (I know I know, I don’t do that anymore, but Napster was on fire then!), and built in drama and friends all around you at all times. I had my high school boyfriend all through college, so sometimes I feel like I missed out of a certain angle of really enjoying college life. But, every choice involves giving something else up, I suppose. Anyway…
My college was WAY overbooked as well, and I was also with two other girls in a room meant for two people total. The nice thing about our dorms was that each dormroom had their own private bathroom, so no shower shoes required. It’s amazing though, how adaptable people are. I could NEVER live with three people in a tiny bedroom again (my desk was UNDER my bed, and that was basically my only space). But, it was pretty fantastic at the time.
bethany August 7, 2012, 3:23 pm
Omg, AIM and Napster! Those were the days!!
I can’t lie. I miss it so much 🙂 My college experience was amazing.
6napkinburger August 7, 2012, 4:41 pm
Putting funny convos/poignant thoughts/ music lyrics as your away message was pre-twitter twitter.
bethany August 7, 2012, 4:46 pm
Did any of you guys have “skins” for your mp3 player on your computer??
jlyfsh August 7, 2012, 5:11 pm
Daisy August 8, 2012, 3:35 am
Hahaha wow — flood of memories here! I spent a ridiculous amount of time updating my AIM profile and writing the perfect away messages. Such great times 🙂
MaterialsGirl August 7, 2012, 4:43 pm
AOL! and hearing that “ping” sound when your message reached the person down the hall. Hilarious
brendapie August 7, 2012, 2:25 pm
Something I would recommend for move-in day is, if you arrive first, to wait for your roommate to arrive so you can negotiate furniture and space before settling in. My first roommate arrived before I did and picked the best bed, desk, closet, furniture and what not. When I showed up with my parents her bed was already made, decorations up and clothes hung. I wasn’t angry with it at the time but it really set the tone for the rest of our time together (I moved out halfway through the year so needless to say we didn’t get along).
brendapie August 7, 2012, 2:28 pm
12 years ago for me… wow I feel old!
Fabelle August 7, 2012, 2:33 pm
Oh man, #7– my roommate walked in on me having sex the second night after we moved in. It was awkward, but we laughed about it together the next day & became super-close after that. So I got lucky!
The one issue we did have was messiness, though– BOTH of us were so messy that we never had any incentive to clean. Make sure you hold a high standard of cleanliness so shit doesn’t get out of hand.
anonymous August 7, 2012, 3:04 pm
I’d say you got lucky in more than one way!
SpaceySteph August 7, 2012, 2:59 pm
Excellent point on cleaning. My friend and I lived together for 2 years and while we were both tidy, that’s not the same as being clean. As in, there weren’t heaps of clothes anywhere but the place basically never saw a vacuum or bleach. Pretty gross to think we ate out of that kitchen.
mandalee August 7, 2012, 2:46 pm
Oh my god, I can’t believe I was a college freshman 8 years ago! I think I’m stuck in that time frame where I *think* I’m still “just out of college”, when in reality I’m pretty far removed from it.
That said, great advice Wendy. I lived in a suite my freshman year, which was great because we had two private bathrooms, but I also had 8 suitemates. So, that definitely complicated the transition even more, given that it was so many personalities and preferences clashing at once. I wish one of my roommates would have read this list prior to moving in, because she enjoyed having sex with random guys all throughout the day, and I wouldn’t find out until I realized I was locked out of my bedroom.
qm August 7, 2012, 3:06 pm
I actually disagree with number 2, but that might be because my school made you fill out a worksheet with basic “rules” the first week of school. I think it’s really helpful to have basics like “are you cool if I stay up ’til 3am? No? Okay, so how are we going to compromise?” out of the way before it festers. You do have to go at it the right way, however. Laying down rules the minute they walk in the door? No. Eating some of that Chinese take-out you kept mentioning (and that I now crave) while getting to know what is and is not a deal-breaker for your roommate? Yes.
Also, the biggest thing I think incoming freshman need to know about living with a roommate is to have a sense of humor about things. And don’t judge by the first few nights you live with them. My roommate, who moved back in with her mom after the first semester to save money, gave me one of my favorite stories to tell the first night we roomed together. But that ridiculous drunk girl from the first night never emerged again because she learned her lesson. So don’t judge too quickly and laugh about it when you can.
Emma August 7, 2012, 3:09 pm
Woo! SMSU! Went there my freshman year, too (live in Springfield most my life). It was MSU by then, though. Now in Philly, at Temple, though.
I think some of these are good for moving in with people outside a dorm situation, too.
Sue Jones August 7, 2012, 3:11 pm
My freshman roommate fell madly in love with a guy in our dorm on the same floor. They were both nerdish and also had never been in a relationship before. They were all google eyes with each other and constantly together and making out in our shared room so it was very awkward! I couldn’t believe it when she wanted to be my roommate again sophmore year. I declined. I wonder if they are together still? One of those gross googly couples… ugh!
GatorGirl August 7, 2012, 3:15 pm
Don’t steel your roommates things. Specifically their car. When they have to go to their part time job and have no other way to get there.
Also I second the no sexy time when the roommate is in. And leave like an hour window or at least air out the room after.
And do not cut your toenails or use a pumice stone straight onto the carpet and leave it there!!!!
Don’t eat all of your roommates food without asking first.
My freshman roommate was a freaking TERROR.
GatorGirl August 7, 2012, 3:18 pm
Oh- make clear rules on the tv. I can not sleep with the TV on and my frosh roommate always forgot to turn it off. Drove me flipping nuts. I also hate cartoons and she LOVED them- so much it was weird.
And be honest on the roommate match form. If you’re a partier say it. If you rise early say it. I have had a pretty good feeling for YEARS that my frosh roommate lied like crazy on hers because we were the worst match in the history of time.
Kristen August 7, 2012, 4:17 pm
I think we need a thread about our worst roommates ever.
My sophomore roommate put a half-eaten grilled cheese in the top of my closet and I didn’t find it until the end of the year when I was moving out.
And that was just the tip of the iceberg.
6napkinburger August 7, 2012, 5:04 pm
Mine left scallops in the refrigerator we had pretended was a freezer over winter break. (we kept the thing as cold as it could be… ice cream kept as long as we were going to have it without eating it aka 2 days max). When we got back, the entire suite reeked of defrosted gross scallops, which NEVER WENT AWAY, for the entire next semester.
MaterialsGirl August 7, 2012, 4:45 pm
My freshman roommate (first semester only) would come back to our room and REEK of sex. lounge around in a bathrobe reek. it was awful
Kristen August 7, 2012, 8:53 pm
I might regret asking this, but what does that smell like?? I can’t picture it.
theattack August 7, 2012, 9:23 pm
Yeah, I’m with Kristen. Now I’m paranoid that I smell like sex afterwards. I’ve heard other people describe the smell as sweaty latex, but I guess that only applies if you’re using condoms.
Kristen August 7, 2012, 9:30 pm
I know! I’ve never once stopped to wonder if I smell like sex. Especially if I’m dressed and stuff. What would that smell like??
Rachel August 7, 2012, 9:45 pm
I think it’s one of those things that you would know it if you smelled it.
mandalee August 7, 2012, 10:38 pm
Yes, I’m with Rachel on this one that you can definitely smell like sex sometimes. If I had to describe it, a mixture of sweat and body fluids with an overpowering musky scent.
My roommate frequently slept around. I know that smell way too well.
Kristen August 7, 2012, 10:52 pm
Thanks! That helps 🙂 I just never knew people could smell like that for an extended period of time, haha.
For all the insanity my roommate brought, at least she never had sex while I was in the room or made it obvious they had just finished. She did, however, have sex on my futon while I was gone for the weekend, which really freaked me out.
Rachel August 7, 2012, 11:36 pm
I had a friend in college who always smelled kind of like sex…but I don’t think he actually had sex. I always wondered what that was about.
MaterialsGirl August 8, 2012, 9:25 am
Oh you know it. that’s for sure. It is some musky combo of sweat and vagina and all sorts of other body fluids. Imagine you just get back from a hot sweaty run… it smells like your shorts
Kristina August 7, 2012, 3:27 pm
One time, I lived with 2 other girls in a dorm–one was my best friend for years, and the other was a girl I met through a college group on Facebook. Well, that best friend became a nightmare, where she made a death threat towards the other roommate and I. And I’m still extremely close with the other roommate now. But seriously, putting 3 people together is a nightmare. Especially 3 girls.
I never did this with any of my roommates, but I feel really bad now about having sex in my ex’s tiny dorm, while his roommate was awake. The roommate was so socially awkward and practically asexual and he never said anything until one day he asked me to never come back, haha.
krissy August 7, 2012, 3:39 pm
It’s been 8 years since I moved into the dorms freshman year and I still remember it all so clearly. I totally lucked out with my roommate. She was (and still is) one of the nicest people I have ever encountered. She was a year older than me and had lived in the dorms already, so she showed me the ropes and walked me around campus to help me find my classes. The key to our great relationship was that we were both always considerate of each others schedules and willing to compromise. She would happily go sleep in the study room if she was planning to be up all night preparing for a test so that she didn’t keep me awake. I would happily oblige by putting on my headphones or taking visiting friends to the common areas if she needed some down time. We didn’t become the worlds best friends, but we shared a lot of great memories and never once had a fight the entire year we lived together. We also never had to deal with the awkward sexual encounters issue, neither of us had a boyfriend that year. I would also second whoever said not to live with friends. I moved in with 3 girls that I was friends with my senior year of college and it took a heavy toll. I’m only friends with 2 of them now, and we required a nice long break to get our friendship back on track.
Addie Pray August 7, 2012, 3:51 pm
11. Don’t use your neighbor’s nice hair straightener to fry bananas. Like my roommate did. God, it’s been 15 years since she did that, and I still haven’t forgotten. I still remember the next day warming up my straightener and wondering where the all-of-a-sudden banana smell was coming from… Bitch.
Addie Pray August 7, 2012, 4:18 pm
Actually, despite the banana incident, we were good roommates. And we’re still good friends. Except: we have *never* mentioned the banana incident since I yelled at her “don’t fucking use my hair straightener to make banana foster which is gross anyway.” Except I didn’t say “fucking” because the truth is I’m not that tough or ballsy. And I guess how it really went down was I ‘said’ it, not really ‘yell’ it, but she knew I was mad because I don’t think I talked to her at all that day. She apologized. And really we’ve never brought it up since. I’m going to call her later and tell her I haven’t forgotten. Haha.
Kristen August 7, 2012, 4:19 pm
What??? How would someone even think to do that?
Addie Pray August 7, 2012, 5:06 pm
Actually, upon further though, I remember now what happened: I was gone; my roommate had some guys over; one dude saw my straightener and was like “whaaat is that?!” and then probably saw a banana on the dresser and thought it would be funny to fry it. There probably wasn’t anymore thinking involved than that. I remember I was pissed b/c my roommate didn’t speak up to stop the guy from messing with my stuff, didn’t tell me, and didn’t even do a very good job cleaning up – I remember there were chunks of banana still on the straightener.
There, now that’s the full story. I should probably get over it.
SpaceySteph August 7, 2012, 2:56 pm
Facebook makes is so easy. I was super shy and hated to talk to people on the phone (being an adult has forced me to mostly get over it) and all we got was our roommate’s phone number and name. No email… it was before facebook… so I had to call her. Eek!
Also we hated each other due to mutual violation of #s 2, 8, and 9. The next year I lived with my best friend since kindergarten (we thought it best not to live together freshman year, which I still think is a good choice) but my freshman year roommate and I had the same major so we ended up in classes together. As engineers, there were only like 4 girls in our class and we had no choice but to bond. We ended up being really good friends and she’s standing up in my wedding in a few months. Sometimes you can end up loving a person that you just can’t live with, so try not to let your disagreements on what constitutes a clean sink ruin what could be a great non-roommate friendship!
Lynn August 7, 2012, 4:04 pm
I went potluck in college, and my roommate and I connected via Facebook the summer before we moved into our dorm. The girl ended up becoming my best friend, and we lived together our sophomore, junior and senior years of college. We split grocery costs, she let me use her car when I didn’t have mine our first year, we had codewords and everything.
We also lived with a couple other girls our later college years, but everything was great then too. I have never had any roommate issues, so I guess I’m pretty lucky… but we all made sure we were open and honest with one another and didn’t let things build up. The girl I live with now is also someone who lived with my best friend and I during our last two years.
But when you go into college, I recommend not living with someone you know already. Yeah, maybe they’re your best friend, but you need to make sure you have some of the same habits. See how that person treats their home, their stuff, etc. because that’s exactly how they’ll treat your small dorm room.
Lilybell August 7, 2012, 4:27 pm
My freshman roommate: 1. Called my parents (she had never met them) to tell them I was anorexic because I wasn’t interested in binging on Nutella every night with her (I have never even come close to having an eating disorder; my mother ripped her a new one). 2. Tattled to our RA that I spent too many nights sleeping over my boyfriend’s (he had a single room). We were allowed! There were no rules against it and my RA told her to keep out of my business. 3. Was in love with my gay best friend (male) and hounded/stalked him to the point where she was spoken to by the administration and warned to stay away. She got a lot better over the years. She ended up marrying a European Count!
Addie Pray August 7, 2012, 4:48 pm
Geez, not fair. I want to marry a European Count.
MaterialsGirl August 7, 2012, 4:51 pm
If you’re an athlete, live with another athlete (at least from a different sport). My first semester was tough even though I had met my roommate back at scholarship weekend and had talked with her all summer. She wanted to party a lot (as did I, but then reality hit me), and I had 5:30am basketball practice every day. Didn’t really work out THAT well. Not that I was a joy to live with either. I was pretty messy until I lived with my second semester roommate. It was a lot better then 🙂
kerrycontrary August 8, 2012, 9:01 am
I think my college had all athletes automatically live together, and most band members lived together too(they had a pretty rigorous schedule).
bagge72 August 7, 2012, 3:53 pm
When I was a freshman, I was put in a very small room with two other guys, well one guy showed up, and the other didn’t so to keep them from giving us another roommate, we forged the no-shows name when they sent the list around to sign that says you have showed up for your room. It worked out great, because we never got a new roommate. I do miss college though, that is where I met my best friend, it’s crazy that we have been such close friends for so long, and still hangout, and now are families are really good friends. I actually met everyone in my wedding party from him, and my fiancee I feel like I stole all of my friends haha.
Addie Pray August 7, 2012, 4:13 pm
i hope the no-show guy didn’t get charged living expenses… that would’ve sucked (for him)!
katie August 7, 2012, 7:54 pm
Ha- so I was “cursed” my freshman year of college because I was on my third roommate by the time I left for externship.. haha. I had two crazy roommates who both very abruptly quit school and left.. its a funny story. we should totally have a crazy roommate open thread!
Kristen August 7, 2012, 8:54 pm
Seconded! I have so many great stories (miserable at the time, hilarious now).
MMcG August 7, 2012, 8:05 pm
Two words: CHORE CHART.
Sounds like a hassle, but saves so much time, effort and heartache in a group living situation with more than 2 people… just figure out what common chores/spaces/foods you may have in common (dishes, living room, milk) and then go around in alphabetical order. If you don’t want to wash a bunch of dishes, take your turn the very next morning when there are 2 bowls and a spoon in there and check it off… or be lazy and watch your house go through every dish you own so you have to spend a weekend washing them. Either way – clear lines of agreement and there’s never a throwdown when one of your roomies has the munchies and despite claiming she rarely uses milk – goes to town using it all up to make Kraft Mac&Cheese 😉
Emily August 7, 2012, 10:21 pm
If I had to do it all over again, I would communicate more about the small issues. I would also be firmer in setting boundaries. I had Japanese roommate who would not communicate when I had done something that bothered her (culturally it was hard for her and then she became resentful of me for not being able to read her mind). My second roommate was nice…until she went off of anti-depressants cold turkey. Let’s just say she became the roommate from hell with highly unstable. If I told her she could have some of my food, she would take almost all of it. The kicker was when she told me through grunts with the silence treatment that she was moving out because I “was always sleeping when she was awake and vice versa” a week after I came back from getting my appendices out. After serious surgery I needed way more sleep to say the least. She was also so generous as to leave me with the parting gift of mono. After those two horrible experiences, getting my own dorm room was peace of mind.
Anna August 8, 2012, 4:48 am
It’s been 10 years this month since I started college. I’m so glad I never lived in a dorm with a stranger. If at all possible, get an apartment with someone you’re very close to or an apartment alone. Dorm rooms usually require you to wear pants and stay sober. Lame!
BecBoo84 August 9, 2012, 11:29 am
I have to disagree about not living in the dorms. I think that’s one of the best ways for freshmen to meet people!
evanscr05 August 8, 2012, 8:38 am
It’s been 11 years since I first stepped into my freshman dorm and met my new roommate. We became best friends so fast that people were convinced within the first week of school that we were either sisters or had known each other whole lives. We’ve been roommates ever since. I know we’re quite unusual, but really, it could happen to anyone. You never know if that person you meet randomly is going to become a lifelong friend.
One thing our dorm did was to give each room a rommate agreement form and the first week you sat down together, filled it out, and taped it to the back of your door as a constant reminder of the things you agreed upon. It was a great way to get you talking to each other about the way you live in a safe way, and I think it helped prevent many arguments.
I sometimes really miss those days. I’m so jealous of incoming freshman and the newness of college. It’s an incredible time in your life, but it’s made so much sweeter by the bonds you form while you are there.
evanscr05 August 8, 2012, 8:39 am
Also, I’m 100% sure I had the exact bedspread that’s in the picture!
Billy August 9, 2012, 8:48 pm
All I got from this was cashew chicken. I’m from Springfield and it’s the only reason I go back.
Tom August 9, 2012, 8:58 pm
Ah, the memories! I was a freshman at CU Boulder 35 years ago. I had the greatest roommate, he would jump over to my bed or pillow every time he had to fart. We lived across the hall from the community bathroom so I would sometimes go to shower without the key, if he came home he would lock the door and leave. And when I was in the shower he would sneak in and flush a toilet so I would be scalded.
Overall a great guy who was just a little harsh with practical jokes. He now defends our country with a very senior post in the Pentagon.