Camri Martin-Bowen said she is glad she got to experience having a roommate early in her college career.
“It’s brought me out of my shell,” said Martin-Bowen, a nursing major from Wetumpka who was a freshman in the spring. “I was tired of being an introvert all my life.”
A roommate can end up being friend or enemy. Here is some advice from past roommates, resident assistants and housing staff.
n Contacting the roommate:
“It did take a long time to contact my roommate because she didn’t check her email, but once she did, we were able to Facebook each other and talk about things we have done in the past and what we want for the future,” Martin-Bowen said.
Getting in touch with your roommate will allow you to find out each other’s wants and habits.
n When a problem arises:
“You still have to see your roommate every day, especially in traditional and suite-style dorms,” Martin-Bowen said.
Your roommate is the person who will know how you truly are. Your roommate will know that you throw your clothes on the floor and that you clean dishes only once a week.
Establishing boundaries with your roommate within the first couple of weeks of classes.
Start by making a list of things that you do and don’t like. With your roommate, come to an agreement that benefits both of you. This way, you both aren’t butting heads toward the middle of the semester.
n Flexibility is necessary:
“I was actually going to make a list, but when I got here everything changed because I didn’t want to be too forward,” Martin-Bowen said. “It’s not only my room; it’s their room, too.”
Hanging out with your roommate can give you clues to how your roommate acts and will keep his or her room in the future.
n Communication is key:
“I didn’t like conflict, and I don’t think she liked conflict, either,” said Holly Ammons, a graphic design major from Geneva who was a junior in the spring. She was also a resident assistant in Cowart Hall.
“It was hard to work through our problems in a healthy way because we wouldn’t communicate about our problems,” she said.
Sometimes you will come back from a hard day and decide you don’t care about anything. This doesn’t mean you can take it out on your roommate, who has problems to deal with.
“We were best friends from high school, and I don’t think we would still be best friends now if we didn’t talk about our roommate issues,” Ammons said. “You don’t want to sound like a jerk and set out a list of rules. Let them know that you will respect what they need, and they will thus respect what you need. It will clear up a lot of problems before they happen.”
Erica Rousseau, who is the area coordinator for east campus, said: “Healthy communication is something that we have to teach more of (to) our incoming students. I think it’s important to hear both sides and create a space where (the roommates can mediate).”
Your roommate is in the same boat as you. You don’t have to try to one-up him in any way. So put
your best foot forward, and get to know your roommate.
“I would say that conflict between roommates has increased in the past few years,” Rousseau said. “Having that conversation upfront helps tremendously because once you know what lines you can’t cross, you usually don’t cross those lines.”
Rousseau said that within the first semester most freshmen have their major arguments.
“This is an educational environment, and I’m trying to teach you just as much as your professor in physics is trying to teach you,” she said.