Unless you’re rooming with your best friend, chances are you’ve been waiting for your roommate assignment practically since you got your acceptance letter. Now that it’s finally here, what are you going to say to them? And what do you do if they sound like your worst nightmare?
(True story: The first time I talked to my freshman roommate, she described herself as “pink zebra print and a little bit Barbie” and then asked me how comfortable I was with nakedness. I’m pretty sure I hung up with her ready to give up on going to college all together. Turns out, we got along just fine.)
I’m here to tell you to take a deep breath. Living with a complete stranger can sound scary, but it’s an important part of the college experience. And believe me, I’ve seen it all when it comes to crazy roommate and stressful dorming situations – but that’s for another post! Today, I want to tell you the questions you should ask your new roomie to make sure living together goes as smoothly as possible.
1. Are you a morning or night person?
You don’t want to be surprised when your roommate wakes you up at three in the morning when she’s getting ready for bed and you’ve already been asleep for 3 hours. Likewise, your roommate is going to be grumpy if you turn on all the lights at 7 in the morning on a Saturday. It’s about finding a balance – and it’s totally possible. My roommate and I worked out a system where we had a time when we turned the overhead lights off. Either one of us could still use our desk lamps and electronics, but we agreed that once the overheads were off, it was time to be quiet in case one of us was trying to sleep. It worked out great.
I spent a year living with a total night owl (I’m a morning person all the way!), and we worked out a similar system. It’s all about finding common ground and being willing to compromise.
2. Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?
It’s college, guys. Being sexiled happens. It’s just does. But knowing that your roommate has a significant other is important so you guys can discuss boundaries. It’s important to know what each of you is comfortable with. Maybe you’re fine with the idea of their boyfriend sleeping over. Maybe it freaks you out. You need to be upfront and honest with your roommate about this.
Want to know what happens when you aren’t honest? Fights. One of you will feel like your boundaries are being disrespected, and the other will feel that someone they love is being excluded for no reason. Better to be honest about it upfront so you can work out an agreement.
3. Are you a partier?
It’s college. Pretty much everyone parties at some point. Even if you don’t, chances are that your roommate will. The closest my roommate and I ever got to a fight was when she started coming back from parties and turning on all the lights and having loud phone conversations. Luckily, we were able to work out a solution. But if you know ahead of time that one of you is going to be going out some or most nights to party, it’s good to make sure you let the other person know what to expect.
4. How much privacy do you want?
It’s easier than ever to connect with loved ones from home – but how comfortable are you with your roommate listening in to half the conversation? And what are you going to do if they’re studying and you want to talk with your mom/sister/significant other?
Together, you and your roommate need to decide on what is private and what isn’t. You also need to figure out where you’re going to go if your roommate asks for half an hour to skype with her parents.
5. What drives you absolutely crazy?
Clear this up now, before you end up feuding over half-filled Brittas or messy closets. It’s good to know your roommate’s biggest pet peeve before you even walk into the dorm for the first time.
6. What are your study habits like?
Some people work best in the middle of the day. If you’re like me, your best ideas for papers come at midnight. (Yeah – totally not compatible with being a morning person!) Figure out when you work best, and learn when your roommate likes to study. From there, you can figure out if you can study in your room or if you need to go to the library or somewhere else.
Another thing to consider – does one of you like to listen to music while they work? Do you like to have the TV on while you do assignments? Talk about this!
7. Honestly – are you a messy or clean person?
This is where so many fights happen. Be totally upfront about your cleanliness habits! It’s okay if you’re a messy person – just promise to keep it to your side of the room and to not let it get out of hand. I’m a person who believes in organized chaos, so I totally get all you messy people out there. Just do everyone a favor and keep your mess to a minimum – and throw out old food!
8. What are you studying?
This is a great way to get to know your new roommate. Maybe you can bond over similar majors or minors. Compare class schedules and see when you’ll both be in the room and when you’ll each have time to yourself. Plus, this gives you an idea of what your roommate likes and is interested in. Go ahead and ask them what they want to do with that major. You may be surprised what you find out!
9. Who is going to bring what?
This could be a whole post on its own, but let’s talk about it quickly! It’s important that you don’t end up with multiples of some things and none of others. It’s also a good way to gauge what your roommate is like – if they don’t want a TV at all, they may be way more sensitive to noise then they let on. If it turns out you’re both bringing yoga mats, you can bond over fitness together!
10. Is there anything we missed?
Okay, this sounds like a bit of a cop-out, but I promise it isn’t. There are so many questions that you can ask your roommate, but this is an important one. Maybe your roommate smokes. Maybe you are super religious and your roommate isn’t. Maybe one of you is allergic to peanut butter. These are things to talk about!
Now that you have a great list of questions, go ahead and ask them! Get to know your new roommate. You may be surprised what you find out!