As a transfer student coming from Ventura College to California State University, Northridge, I was going to be living in the student housing the school was offering. This was an exciting and anxious time for me. I was going to be living on my own for the first time with three other students I had never met before. Although my school does offer specific options for housing, I did not have any close friends attending the University to be able to share an apartment with. So I had to choose a popular option many students take, which is to be assigned an apartment with people who have similar hobbies and living arrangements. I did this for two years and I found it to be a great experience in which I was able to meet new people and gain independence. College roommates are people who greatly affect your time at the University, and creating a friendly and positive relationship with them is vital.
Related: Strangers or Squad? How to Live With Your College Roommate
Many universities offer different options for their student housing. Some may provide you with the opportunity to choose roommates you are friends with. This lets you share a living space with people you already know and are familiar with their lifestyles. With other schools, they may randomize who is placed in which room. Other universities center their method of selection based on similar hobbies, likes, dislikes, and lifestyles. These options give you the opportunity to meet many new people. For CSUN, my first year I did not know anyone, so I was told to search the database of people looking for roommates and find someone who had similar interests as myself. Fortunately, I was placed in an apartment with three amazing young women who were kind, helpful, and respectful. Then for my second year, although I had already made friends, I wanted to meet more new people, so I choose a room with students I had never met before again. Finding roommates is scary, but focus your search on something positive. This will help you meet new people, expand your perspectives on different lifestyles, and place you outside of your comfort zone.
So your roommates have been picked; now what? I suggest immediately communicating with all of them. I always set up a group e-mail and introduce myself. This eases the tension and lets everyone share some important information about yourself and your new space. Some other ways to communicate include meeting up somewhere if everyone is in a close proximity, setting up a Skype call, text messaging, or even giving each other a phone call. Communication is vital and helps everyone just break the ice. After this, moving in with new people will not feel like strangers but friends!
You’re sitting down in front of your computer thinking, what should I include in the e-mail? Well, stating a bit about yourself like your hobbies, dislikes, major, and hometown is always a plus. Let people get an idea of your personality and lifestyle. Maybe you don’t like to wake up early, you prefer a quiet environment during a certain time, and prefer to not share your personal belongings. Making sure your roommates know what you are comfortable with and what you are not is vital. You aren’t going to be living on your own; you will be sharing a living space, so this works two ways. Ask them about their likes and dislikes, and make sure you respect their wishes as you want them to respect yours. Another key point to bring up is what should each person bring to the dorm or apartment? Maybe someone can bring a broom for everyone to share, another might want to bring a microwave or a vacuum. Having people bring specific items that will be shared is important so you don’t bring duplicates that take up space. As long as the person who brings the item doesn’t mind letting you use their stuff, this is a great way to learn about responsibility and sharing.
It’s time to move in! I recommend setting up an in-person hangout before the move-in date. This gives everyone a chance to share all their feelings of being nervous, excited, or anxious. If a hangout isn’t possible, send out a last e-mail or text. When you all move in, let each other settle in, but set up a hangout soon! Go out to eat or grab a snack to get to know each other a bit more. You will be living with them for a whole school year, so you might as well start off on a good note. This is a good opportunity to set up house rules or chores. How will you divide up the cleaning of the kitchen/bathroom and vacuuming? It’s also a great chance to figure out each other’s school schedules, who likes to sleep in, who has to wake up early, and so on. Make sure everyone voices their opinions, likes, and dislikes. Everyone is an important person in the dorm or apartment, so everyone has to be respected and listened to.
With any roommate situation, just follow these basic rules: respect each other’s stuff and space, clean up after yourself, and speak up. If something or someone is bothering you, voice your opinion instead of building a flame that will get out of control later on. Something important to realize is you don’t need to become best friends with your college roommates. You can live with them without hangout out 24/7 or sharing every little thing. As long as everyone is respecting each other, your relationship with them will be positive. It’s great if you all do become good friends, but if you don’t, that’s fine too. You will meet new people in college every day. Focus on respecting and following the rules you all set up, and I’m sure everyone will have a great time!