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Roommate Survival 101: Helpful Tips For Getting Along

Everyone has heard the horror stories of a bad roommate.  Conflicts, arguments, disagreements.. or my personal pet peeve: eating my favorite foods without asking for permission, and then leaving a giant mess all over the room!  Getting along with roommates can be tricky.  Fortunately, there’s hope.  Follow these four roommate survival guide tips below to avoid your own horror story:

Roommate Survival Tip #1: Talk to your roommate! Get to know your roommate — what they like and don’t like, what they are interested in, what hobbies they enjoy.  As you start to see different sides to your roommate, the added contextualization you’ll gain will help you work out differences in perspectives or any disagreements that may arise.  Even if you don’t ever become great friends, having an understanding of each other will help you get along better. Discuss expectations and any pet peeves that might not be obvious. Don’t be hesitate to speak up if his/her actions bother you.  Honesty, with tact, can go a long way.  Communicate often — for example, tell your roommate when big, important events (tests, papers, competitions, etc.) are coming up soon.  That way, you can help each other be more considerate.

Roommate Survival Tip #2: Sometimes, know when it’s smarter just to keep quiet.  Don’t be afraid to discuss things with your roommate, but know which battles to pick and which small things to keep quiet about.  Don’t tell your roommate about all of the little annoying actions or habits.  Take on a long-term perspective: because you’ll have to live with the same person for an entire semester or more, it’s not helpful to nit-pick every little thing.  It takes people a while to adjust to college life and living with a stranger, so cut your roommate a little slack for the less important things.

Roommate Survival Tip #3: Try to understand where your roommate is coming from.  People are different!  Some people have quirky preferences and need privacy in certain areas that don’t really make sense to you.  Try to respect these things about people and realize that what is obvious for one person isn’t always so clear for another.  People have different upbringings and may be used to situations that are likely different than yours.  Subtle cultural differences can be even trickier to recognize and account for.  Try your best to see through your roommate’s eyes.  At the same time, always tell him or her your perspective and where you’re coming from so that he or she also understands you.

Roommate Survival Tip #4: Work out agreements and compromise if necessary.  If you and your roommate must agree to disagree, then the best you can do is negotiate a written agreement, in which both sides may need to make concessions.  This can be especially useful for household chores like cleaning, splitting costs of utilities, how food should be shared, working out repairs, etc. Come up with a cleaning schedule or decide in advance which conditions to be met.  For especially controversial disagreements, bring in a third-party mediator if necessary.

Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to a much more tolerable — or even enjoyable — living situation.

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