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How to cope with a bad roommate

There’s nothing more terrifying about your first moments in your new dorm than meeting the person you’ll be bunking up with for the next year. It’s bad enough mommy won’t be there to wash your clothes and cook your dinner, but now you have to shack up with a stranger in a room a few steps bigger than a linen closet.

You and your new roomie may get along great and this crossroads acquaintance could turn into a life-long chum. But there is a chance you may not be so lucky. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of different souls settling into your new campus, and there’s a good chance the person picked to live with you may not be astrologically compatible.

Two key princples can help you deal with any conflict: tolerance and communication. Life will be easier, and potentially more interesting, if you tolerate one another’s annoying habits, different lifestyles, and ideologies. The whole point of college is to experience new things — this includes diverse personalities. You’re not just there to read books; you’re there to learn about the cultures of your peers as well, and more importantly, to learn about yourself. Communication is vital: If something is bothering you, speak up. Initiate conversations about small irritations early, before they become fodder for a major blowout. If you do feel like you’ve hit an impasse, approach your RA for support and input. And don’t forget to look in the mirror. Do you recognize even just a little bit of yourself in these horror-story roomates?

The Filth Element

Sloppiness can be the most annoying roomie trait, and it may be the most prevalent incompatibility symptom. With the stress of class and finals, your rooms are bound to get messy. Don’t fret if you find your roommate’s undergarnments on the floor or if a pack of ramen noodles was left on your nightstand. But if it’s hurricane season year-round, you have a problem. This happened to me my sophomore year in college. What started off as a few clothes and books on the floor turned into a narrow trail to get to my bed. Clothes, books, cups, backpacks, grocery bags, feminine products (unused), brushes, shoes … you name it, it was on the floor. You shouldn’t have to sleep with a shoe in your back, especially if it’s not yours.

The Talking Head

It’s hard enough to strike up a conversation with an introvert, but what do you do if you have a roommate that just won’t shut up? “Where are you going? Where have you been? Guess where I’ve been? Guess who I saw? Who is that? When did you do that? Where did you get that? Let me tell you what happened.” — all in the same sentence. We’re not talking about a casual chat, we’re talking about 30 minutes straight, and you not getting a word in edgewise. If you know all about your roomie’s childhood, future aspirations, sexual conquests and experimentations, dietary habits, and they can’t even tell you your last name, you have a Talking Head on your hands.

The Politico non grata

In this day in age, everything is political, and with this new era of politics comes polarization. This is America, and it’s in our blood to disagree! Living with anyone (especially a college student) might spark up a thought-provoking conversation or political debate, and things can get heated. Don’t sweat it, this is actually a good thing. But don’t let these things make a turn for the worst. Politics can be the wedge in an otherwise successful comradery.


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