Hey there! Ellie here!
Yeah, the holidays are over. I don’t feel so great about it either. Nevertheless, one’s got to go with the timing of everything in life. Now it’s back to school time, with most schools already in full swing while some are yet to resume.
It’s time to pack things up and return to school/college.
Whether you’re just starting college or an old pro at college life, it’s important to know that learning at college goes well beyond coursework. New students(freshers) especially have to deal with greater responsibilities, more independence, managing a demanding course load and of course the social scene.
And then in the midst of it all, a complete stranger in the name of a roommate is thrown at you so you have to deal with not only the school and its system but also with the troubles and headaches that come from living with a roommate.
(But when I signed up for college, I didn’t sign a death warrant.)
Yes, it is okay to think this way.
Roommate trouble isn’t uncommon. It’s a pretty popular topic of conversation among students at college. Everybody has them.
I personally know some bad roommates. I had to deal with some really messy roommates for a couple of years. I’m not saying I was a perfect roommate either, and I know we can all be messy at times. But I don’t think any normal person can live in a room that hasn’t been cleaned for days, with dirty dishes, pots and pans already growing moulds, you’d think someone was deliberately culturing them for some scientific research. Do not feel insulted but if you say you can, then Mr. Pig must be your first cousin.
I have spent a short part of my life living with roommates and over the years, I’ve learnt that roommates problems are easy to understand and approach if done in the right way. You see, while having a roommate will definitely come with its challenges, it can serve as a great part of your college experience. Not only that, but the experience gained would be a form of exercise in human relationships which if carried out correctly could lead to lifelong friendships or relationships or at the very least lifelong skills and techniques in getting along with new persons you’ll meet in the future. It also helps you to get to know more about about yourself and will show you areas where you need to adjust in order to be a better person.
When you first meet your roommate, the probability is that you would want to be on your best behaviour. You want to make sure you get along with each other, so you try hard to make sure you’re not the awful roommate everyone’s talking about. This works at first and you can get carried away with the pleasantness of things that you forget to think ahead to potential problem scenarios until they finally hit.
Eventually things begin to get really frustrating for you and your roommate(s). And after numerous conflicts, there’s a lasting feud among members of the room.
Roommates take sides, usually out of sentiments and then it’s like a war zone with everybody setting boundaries and having territories. But this approach doesn’t solve any problem, it only makes matters worse for all.
There’s this all time favourite quote my mum doesn’t fail to share when the time calls for it, “No man is an Island”. This is true, it explains why we as human beings will always need people to rely on. We can’t do everything by ourselves. The same applies to living with roommates. Let’s say a roommate has an emergency case that needs urgent medical attention, who is to see to the roommate first? The next roommate of course. It is he or she that’ll be able to call for help or give the necessary assistance needed. So you see, as roommates, we have now been made a small family, and what do you need family for if not for help and support when needed. Knowing this, I think it’ll be of great interest if we try to live harmoniously with roommates. Of course, you’ll definitely meet really stubborn and annoying ones, but if done right, living with roommates can be the easiest thing to do while at college.
By following these tips, you can make sure you and your roommate(s) keep things pleasant throughout the year.
Start by getting to know each other. Try to engage in worthwhile discussions. Ask questions about likes, dislikes, habits and living conditions in general. You don’t have to be best friends, but getting to know each other ahead of time can help you prepare yourself for a positive roommate relationship.
Be open and friendly in your communication. Ask open questions and give honest answers. Talk about family, hobbies, academic matters etc. Now be careful when doing this, you wouldn’t want to come off as nosy or make it seem like you’re prying into people’s affairs. Your roommate(s) may not want to come out straight at first, some people deem their privacy very important. Try to understand this and be patient with them. As the friendship develops with time, they’ll start to open up and share things with you. In the process you might even discover you’re alike in certain ways.
Define “Neat”. You might be a neat freak or a slob, whichever way, you always have to put the other person’s feelings into consideration. With a little give and take, you and your roommate(s) can adjust accordingly and make your room and environment as comfortable as possible. There should be an agreement as to how you want the room to be arranged and how you’ll manage a roommate who refuses to live up to the standards you have set.
Talk about visitation hours. Decide when it’s convenient for a roommate to have his or her visitors, especially for the opposite gender guest. You wouldn’t want members of the opposite sex bumping into each other especially when they aren’t fully dressed. To avoid this, it’s important to set designated times as to when they’re allowed in the room as well as to what their dos and don’ts should be.
Find a common interest you share with your roommate(s). Perhaps you both enjoy going to the movies or listening to a particular genre of music or like to go shopping, while you obviously won’t be spending all your time with roommates, doing these things together when you have the time can serve as a lot of fun plus it helps you to get to know each other and understand your roommate(s) better.
Get to know each other’s schedule and study pattern. While some roommates make the library seem like a place where anyone can make a living off, others prefer to remain in the room to study. When you understand this, you and your roommate(s) can make out times that’ll govern the utilization of the room in a way that’ll avoid conflicts.
What about sharing your stuff? Just because you’re sharing a room doesn’t mean you may want to share certain things. This one applies to girls especially as we are known to be very petty beings. For instance, you wouldn’t mind sharing your pots and pans with roommates, but having them use your fancy shampoo is a big NO-NO. In order to save yourself of the trouble or confusion that might come later, let your roommate(s) know ahead of time what it is you don’t mind sharing and what it is you want of your own.
Pet peeves and personal habits, we all have them. People react to different situations in different manners,sometimes helping to resolve the case but most times worsening the situation. How do you deal with conflicts? Are you the type to yell, get quiet or nurse a grudge? What’s a big pet peeve for you? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should go telling your roommate(s) negative things about yourself. But knowing and understanding your strengths and weaknesses, it helps if you are able to address it/them with your roommate(s). Who knows, you might be lucky to meet a roommate(s) that’ll help you through your habits.
Having dealt with all of these, we now know that living with roommates isn’t all that bad. And when it tries to prove difficult, there are smart and subtle ways to handle it.
In all of that, there are certain factors to bear in mind when staying with roommate(s) and when you understand this, you are sure to get through the year without any form of roommate problem.
-People study differently, some study and talk, others prefer quiet study.
-Some prefer the windows open at night(for proper cross-ventilation) others want it closed(for fear that they might catch a cold).
-Some roommates fart really loud and at the most inappropriate times.
-Some will use a verbal expression consistently, you’d find yourself wishing such term was never brought to existence. Take for instance, a friend of mine talking, “You know, I was like, I’m not ready for a relationship and then he was like but when will I be, so I was like, I’ll let him know when I’m ready and then he was like, will when you’re ready be the end of the world, and then I was like he should just give me some time to think about it and then he was like… ” (And to myself I’m thinking,” You both are like so annoying”).
These and many more are some of the things you’re most likely to encounter when living with roommates.
But I think we can live past all of these if we just learn respect each other ; respect each other’s privacy, respect each other’s standards etc.
Learn not to take or borrow the other person’s belongings without seeking permission.
Understand that the wish to study or sleep is more important than wanting to play loud music. Roommates should try as much as possible not to disturb others. If you are the type that relies on alarm clocks to wake you up, then wake up at the time you’ve set, ditch the snooze button this year please as it could be so disturbing and annoying.
Do chores without having to be reminded, follow the routine the room has set.
Don’t expect all favours to be returned. Learn to help others because you want to, not because you hope they’ll return the favour some day. You’ll end up hurting yourself if you operate this way.
As per sleeping patterns and arrangements,while most sleep with the lights off, others are night owls and would want the lights to stay on to enable them carry out their work effectively. If there are to be sleep over guests, necessary arrangements should be made prior to the hour so the other isn’t left feeling displaced. ( Remember most hostel rooms are really small and tight).
Most importantly, never be rude or insulting for no reason. Be kind and thoughtful.
Most schools in Nigeria have Hall Mistresses or Masters that govern and direct the activities of the halls/hostels . If you’ve tried to communicate with your roommate(s) and are still having issues or aren’t happy about your living condition, talk to your hall mistress or master.
I wish you goodluck and a successful academic year.
Feel free to leave comments or add more tips or suggestions on how to live peacefully with roommates.
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