Sharing your personal space with a roommate or housemate,
especially someone from a different country or culture, can be a wonderful part
of your college experience – if you get along.
Communication is the key! Here
are some important issues you may want to consider discussing with your
potential roommate(s) before you sign any kind of agreement or decide to room
Who else has keys to your apartment or room? Who will be coming and going on a regular
basis? If you or your potential
roommate(s) have a girlfriend or boyfriend are they allowed to stay
overnight? If friends or relatives come
to visit will they be welcome to share your communal area? Always make sure that you are comfortable
with everyone who has access to your private space. If you have a party at
home, make sure that you have all your roommates’ permission in advance and
that you or your roommates know all the guests that are allowed to enter.
Do you and your potential roommate(s) have compatible
schedules? If you plan on studying at
home, make sure that you work out in advance a schedule that incorporates study
time, sleep time, or when it is permissible to listen to music, watch TV, be on
the telephone, or have guests.
Are you a slob, or do you prefer to keep your home tidy and
clean? Do you like to cook but hate
cleaning up after? Discuss in advance
how you are going to keep your communal areas (bathroom, kitchen, living room)
clean. You may want to make one person responsible for clean up on a weekly
basis, or make each roommate responsible for their own mess on a daily basis.
Work out in advance if you will be sharing food items stored
in the kitchen, dividing the cost of groceries and utilities, or borrowing or
lending clothes, DVDs, CDs, etc. It can be frustrating to go to the
refrigerator only to find that your favorite snack has disappeared – again!
You may want to put together a “House Rules List” that deals
with the issues above, as well as any other concerns you might have. Make sure
all roommates are aware of the house rules and are committed to following them
in the interest of peace and harmony in your home.
If Problems Arise
Remember that learning to get along with different
personalities is part of growing as a person; your goal is not to fight, but to
resolve issues before they get out of hand.
Communicate and be willing to compromise with the little
Actively listen to your roommates’ complaints, and be clear
and calm regarding any complaints you may have.
Don't try to resolve a conflict when you or your roommates
are angry. Work it out once you have all
Be sure you completely understand what is being said and
that what you are saying is also fully understood.
If you find yourself in the middle of an escalating
conflict, use a friend or other roommate as a witness.
Keep a written record of your communications and the steps
you have taken to try and resolve conflicts.
Share this with all your roommates, including the person with whom you
have been having problems.