One of my favorite things about Furman is the ability to live on campus all four years of college. Over my first two years of college lived in dorms with one roommate and this last year and this year I upgraded to an apartment that I am sharing with 3 roommates! While I there is good and bad with each living situation I can say with confidence that so far this year (senior year) has been my favorite. Even though we are a little less than a month in and you may be thinking this is the honeymoon phase the girls I live with all balance each other out and overall have very similar schedules and ideas of how to live together in a mutually beneficial way. Not to forget that these girls are some of my best friends, a major win in my book.
You could say I have a bit of experience when it comes to living with other people so I thought it could be helpful for any of you new college students to share the tips I have to make your living situation comfortable and cooperative! Even if you're not a freshman but want to make sure that you and your roommates are all on the same page these tips and the roommate contract included will certainly help to make sure that you can all live happily in your home together.
Although this year and last we all have our own rooms within the apartment we still have a great deal of shared space that needs to be respected so you can bet I'll be checking back on some of these tips myself to make sure that our living situation is a great one!
1. Communicate Expectations at the Beginning | By starting out by clearly stating the expectations you each have, those expectations are more likely to be a reality. This beginning communication is crucial as you begin living together. If you're really particular about certain things, let your roommate know of that! communication is key for having a great experience!
2. Lock the Door | This should go without saying. I do not understand my friends who don't lock their dorm room doors! How terrible would you feel if you left the door unlocked and your laptop and great grandmothers pearl necklace were taken. Now picture if that same thing happened to your roommate and it was your fault. Locking your door takes about 15 seconds and is an easy way to prevent conflict. A fun bonding event could be you and your roommate shopping for cute key rings to keep your key on!
3. Give Your Roommate Alone Time In The Room | This is something that I think everyone should be conscious of and I personally had to focus on during second semester of this past year. It is unlikely that your roommate and you will have identical schedules so by just going to class you are already likely providing your roommate some time alone in the room. In college you are surrounded by people nearly all the time so a little alone time in your own space is nice! Go to the library or the gym to allow them some alone time.
4. Respect Your Roommates Things | This is something you and your roommate can talk about when you communicate your expectations, as suggested in tip #1. I would recommend that you always ask before borrowing even if y'all decide that your stuff is my stuff and my stuff is your stuff.
5. Make A Roommate Agreement | Furman does this at the beginning of the year for all freshmen and that may be why so many roommate relationships are a success. This is a survey of sorts that we did with our RA that covered questions ranging from: How do you feel about room visitors? / What do you think of your roommate borrowing your things? These questions provided great insight into your roommates lifestyle.
6. Be Courteous of their Schedule | Your roommate goes to bed early and you need to stay up late and study? Turn off the overhead light and allow her to sleep and flip on your desk light so that you can still see to study! Today is your roommates sleep in day and you have class at 8:30? Try to turn your alarm off after the first couple rings and be quiet as you head out the door!
7. Be Clean and Cleanup After Yourself | Nothing is more annoying than coming back from a rough day of class to dishes in the sink and clothes strewn about because someone had a presentation today. You wouldn't want to do this to your roommate and hopefully your roommate won't do that to you! Your room doesn't have to be as immaculate as a museum but try to keep things organized and your stuff on your side of the room. Take turns taking out the trash and vacuuming the room!
8. Deal With Problems As They Arise | Don't let emotions and conflict build up between you and your roommate. If you deal with problems as they arise corrections can be made instead of you just assuming your roommate will pick up on your passive aggressive hints. Don't blow up on your roommate, everything after that will just be uncomfortable.
9. Be Intentional With Your Relationship | You're going to the dining hall to grab some coffee, ask if your roommate wants some or wants to come. Going to the grocery store, see if your roommate needs anything! Just by offering you are allowing your roommate to see that you want to get along and you are finding ways to grow closer.
10. Offer Help | See that your roommate is struggling with something? Offer assistance! It won't go unnoticed and it's likely that help will be offered to you in return.
So as I talked about in number five, a roommate agreement or roommate contract is a great way to lay some of the ground work for how you and your roommate plan to live before the school year really kicks into high gear. Furman requires us to do one our freshman year and encourages it the following years. Freshman year our RA mediated the discussion which was incredibly helpful so I know that other years it is a bit less likely to be done because no one loves talking about potential conflicts with someone they are spending the year living with. While this may initially be uncomfortable it will be so beneficial in the long run. I've created a roommate contract example for y'all to use in case your school doesn't do this so that you know the questions to ask and since having a sheet of paper to guide the discussion can ensure that you stay on track. I created this based on the one Furman gave us but added in additional questions that I think could be helpful. Also, keep in mind that this is catered to people who live on campus and doesn't encompass discussions that you and your roommates should be having about rent, electricity, wifi, moving out, etc if you live in a place where you will be responsible for those things.
I'd love to hear any other suggestions y'all may have to help make a living situation even better!