Tips for Living with a Roommate

December 11, 2020
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Jacob Peterson (‘23) 

When coming into college, one of the biggest things on your mind will be the topic of a roommate. Once I had decided on coming to Gonzaga, one of the things I had to do was fill out a survey, which was like a roommate wish list. The point of filling this out was to put down your likes and dislikes and what you would want your roommate to do and not do. This is an extremely important step in your journey and you really need to tell the truth on this step because it will allow you to find other people who have similar expectations for their roommate.

Depending on your schedule during the year and who you decide to spend your time with, you may see your roommate a lot, or may only see them at night when you go to sleep. Even after finding a roommate, it is still up to you how much time you want to spend with them. So far, I have had great experiences with my roommates.

Freshman year my roommate and I were in different friend groups. Now, in my sophomore year, I live with people from my friend group from freshman year, and my old roommate now lives with people from his freshman friend group as well. The point is, it is not a requirement to be best friends with your roommate, but it would be awesome for you if that is how it turns out.

I think that a key to living with someone new is communication. Most likely you will be living with a complete stranger, and it will be a lot easier to get to know them if you can communicate with them. Your likes and dislikes and your hobbies and interests are all crucial points in getting to know someone. You need to communicate what you expect out of your roommate while you are living in the same room together. My roommate and I had only a few issues throughout the year because we got ahead of any controversy by communicating well earlier rather than later.

Allison Salvador (‘23) 

One of the best pieces of advice I could give about living with a roommate is to be open with communication. Open communication is necessary because it’ll help you set boundaries between you and your roommate. It will also help prevent future conflicts and may even help you and your roommate become closer as friends. A lot of the disputes I have seen between roommates are usually due to a lack of communication. Either they will talk it out and resolve the issue, or they will become passive-aggressive and create a hostile living situation. The latter will create an unhealthy living situation and will eventually end up affecting your mental health and your college experience. Everyone deserves to live in a healthy and safe space and creating a healthy and open environment will allow you to do so.

I am very lucky to say that I have had wonderful roommates during my past two years at Gonzaga. They have definitely impacted my college experience in a positive way. For example, during the first few weeks of my freshman year, my roommate and I would stay up late and talk! Our conversations didn’t only consist of how we wanted to live with each other, however. We didn’t just discuss how often we should clean the room or how many people we should have in the room at once. We learned about each other’s families, our life experiences, what we were passionate about, and so much more. Our conversation allowed me to get a better understanding of who I was living with and what I could do to make myself a better roommate for her.

However, I understand that this can be a rare case. Sometimes, roommates can have very different personalities and do not click as smoothly as we did. When this is the case, it is important to remind yourself to treat others the way you want to be treated. You would not want someone to be disrespectful towards you or your belongings, so treat others with respect. Also, remember to be kind. You may not know everything that is going on with your roommate. If they are having a rough time, try to make your room as safe of a space as possible.

Lucian Cosson (‘23)

To provide some context for my tips, I first want to acknowledge that my freshman year roommate experience was definitely an anomaly. As you may already know, most students at Gonzaga connect with their roommate online either through Gonzaga’s ZagLiving, social media, or maybe another service like ZeeMee. However, I ended up experiencing a last-minute room change and as a result met my roommate when I moved in. While this was not necessarily a bad thing, I think that you are much more likely to have a positive roommate experience if you talk to different people and look for roommates that would be a good match. 

Unfortunately, my freshman roommate and I didn’t end up having much in common and just lived different lifestyles. However, looking back, we didn’t make much of an effort to really get to know each other well, and getting to know your roommate will make things a lot more fun. You don’t have to be best friends with your roommate, but it will lead to a better college experience if you make an effort to become friends with your roommate.

That being said, there are also times when two people completely don’t align, and it is important to be recognize that and be okay with requesting a room change. Two of my friends last year went through that process and there were no bad feelings between the two as they simply recognized that they didn’t work well as roommates. My roommate and I were certainly different personalities, but we still lived together well as we had agreed on specific boundaries and always took each other’s needs and wants into consideration. 

Another thing that helped was that we established a somewhat shared routine that worked for both of us. For example, we set aside the nights and afternoons for homework to ensure that we could both focus and study in the room and then go to bed at a similar time. However, I also found it important to take time for myself and also allow my roommate some space so that we didn’t get tired of each other. 

Lastly, I think it’s important to check up on each other as freshman year can be a difficult time. Many students can feel homesick or overwhelmed with so many big changes and it’s important to recognize that this can be mentally taxing. I remember at a certain point in the semester my roommate started skipping more classes and taking frequent naps during the day, and he wasn’t hanging out with his friends as much as he used to. I was hesitant to get personal with him, but did ask him how he was doing. Once he got to a point where it was concerning, I let my RA know about it and he connected my roommate with some helpful resources. My roommate didn’t end up returning to Gonzaga the next semester, but I was glad that I was able to stay in touch with him and learn valuable lessons.

Maisha Cole (‘23) 

Meeting my roommate was one of the most daunting experiences coming into my freshman year at Gonzaga. I ended up getting lucky and meeting someone who is now one of my best friends, but that didn’t prevent any of the awkward moments that come with learning to live with someone you’ve never met before. At Gonzaga you have the option to choose your roommate, so if you know someone that you already get along with and want to live with your freshman year, that option is available. I would recommend finding someone you haven’t met before because it is such a convenient way to make new friends. When you are choosing first-year housing, you fill out a questionnaire about yourself, your interests, and how you like your living space to be. From this you can find other incoming freshmen with similar living styles and pick someone you think you will get along with. This also gives you the option to communicate with them over the summer, get to know each other, and plan for when you finally meet! 

Once you are moved in with your new roommate, there will be a lot of firsts you share together. You will most likely spend orientation together, explore campus together, and start your college career together. The best way to have an enjoyable living experience with someone you are just meeting is communication. If something they do bothers you or you want to get to know them more, don’t be afraid to start a conversation because you already share a shoebox-sized room. You want to make your shared space enjoyable for both of you, so also be receptive to things they want from you as well. I grew up always having my own room with plenty of space for myself, so it took me a couple months to adjust to the dynamic of living with another person and learning to be a good roommate. By communicating, you can set ground rules that make both of you comfortable. Maybe you enjoy sharing everything and they don’t, or they like sleeping with the TV on and you hate it. These issues may seem frustrating, but the easiest way to solve them is talking it out and finding compromises.  

Learning to live with a roommate has been one of my biggest growing points at my time at Gonzaga. It is an important experience that can create a lot of lifelong memories and friendships. It may seem uncomfortable at first, but if you keep an open mind and grow through the newness of it all, it will be worth it!