By Rachel Comish
Every bright eyed freshman has had that dream. You go to college, you meet all your new best friends, and have enormous adventures living together. Sometimes, that dream actually comes true. It usually takes a couple semesters of sorting people in and out of your life, but hopefully you find yourself living among friends.
Unfortunately, despite all our efforts, we’ve all had that one roommate that we just can’t stand.
They may be too noisy or messy. They may hate your friends and hobbies, or get offended by everything that you do. Hopefully they never go to the lengths of trying to sabotage your peace of mind. But hey, living with strangers is a big risk.
I’ve had my fair share of living with best friends and not so best friends. Here are some tips for making your home a peaceful place, even when eight strangers get shoved together in one apartment.
1. Space things out
Make sure everyone has enough space. Get the kitchen cupboards assigned, the fridge organized, the closet space sorted, and the bathroom/laundry schedules done. It doesn’t need to be detailed, but at least know where you can keep your laptop, flip flops, and leftovers.
2. Pay attention to schedules
Whether you’re in college or working, schedules can get crazy. Be mindful of the people around you. There are those who work the graveyard shift and those who pop up at the gym at 5 am. Some may need to chat every night and others might depend on showering at exactly 7:45 am in order to get to class on time. Everyone is different. It helps to know what time everyone has to get up, when they usually shower, and when the TV is available for movie nights.
3. Bonding activities
It’s fun to do things as an apartment. Invite everyone to something small, like getting ice cream. Don’t force it. Make sure everyone feels welcome, but not obligated. It’s a good way to at least know a little about the people you share four walls with and motivate everyone to care enough to try.
4. Know your limits
Sitting everyone down and having a discussion is a good way to start off a semester. See what everyone’s expectations are and how they can be accommodated. Know what people are ok with (taking over the kitchen for a baking spree but sharing the goodies) and what some might struggle with (one roommate having all her friends over every single night). You can’t compromise everything (the dishes must be done), but this allows everyone a chance to communicate honestly instead of letting the passive aggressive competition escalate for four months.
5. Be honest
If you have a problem, talk about it. This does not mean telling everyone and their mother what so and so did while your oblivious roommate continues to believe you’re friends. Pull that person aside and have a private conversation. It doesn’t need to be a big deal. If the problem has to do with everyone in the apartment, meet with everyone. Don’t be aggressive. Don’t be confrontational. The goal is to solve a problem, not prove that there is one.
I’ve had semesters where I lived with my best friends and it was amazing. I’ve also gone through semesters living with people I never want to see again. There’s also the in between, people you lived with but hardly spoke to and it was fine. Cramming half a dozen people into a small apartment can be tricky and there needs to be balance. But that balance takes work. Sometimes, you just have to be nice and hope for the best.
Hopefully, you can find that person you want to chat with at 3 am and keep them around.