Moving to a college is overwhelming, isn’t it? You have to figure out which classes and extracurriculars to choose, whether to use a college essay help or not, how to manage your finances… And, you guessed it, it also means moving out from your parents’ house. That’s stressful enough on its own, right?
If you’re reading this, you opted for living in a dorm. It’s no wonder why: dorms are cheaper, and they immerse you into the college experience. But living in a dorm also means sharing your room with someone else, probably for the first time ever.
So, how do you make things go smoothly with a roommate? Making a good first impression is a great place to start. Here are 6 ways to avoid getting off on the wrong foot.
1. Reach Out Online First
Before you start sharing the living quarters for the first time, it’s better to get to know the person you’ll be sharing it with. But doing it during the moving-in hassles isn’t the best idea. Both of you will be preoccupied with moving boxes and organizing your stuff.
Fortunately, everyone is googlable these days. That’s not to say you should stalk your future roommate, no. Just look them up on social media and shoot them a message, something like, “Hi, I’m [Name], we’ll be roommates, what’s up?”.
Bonus tip: Sending them a college-related meme is also a good idea. You’ll probably make them laugh, which will break the ice.
2. Hang Out in Person Before Moving In
If you have an opportunity to meet up with your future roommate in person, go for it. Chatting online is great, but it doesn’t compare to hanging out face-to-face.
So, get out there for a cup of coffee, lunch, or just a walk. You’ll probably find something to talk about fast enough. Both of you are moving away from your homes and into a dorm, after all.
3. Offer Help
It’s a small gesture that will go a long way. After all, it means you’re thoughtful and friendly enough to think of helping another. Apart from contributing to making a good first impression, it’s also useful in establishing rapport.
Besides, what goes around comes around. Your roommate is likely to return the favor when you might need help.
4. Bring a Small Housewarming Gift
Who doesn’t like gifts, right? If you’re moving in from another town or state, bring your future roommate a souvenir. If not, you can still treat them to something.
Make sure the gift itself isn’t grand or expensive. Otherwise, receiving it might be awkward if the other person hasn’t thought of doing the same.
If you’re not savvy in choosing gifts, remember: it’s the attention that matters, not the item itself. Plus, chatting beforehand should give you an idea of what kind of gifts they might like.
5. Discuss Habits & Rules
“What does this have to do with a good first impression?”, you might think. Well, first of all, it’ll mean you’re mindful of the other person’s preferences and needs. That, in turn, means you’re empathetic and ready to respect boundaries.
Besides, talking about your lifestyles early on will save both of you from misunderstandings, conflicts, or passive aggression. Here’s what you should discuss -
Alarms. If you’re a night owl but your roommate has to wake up at 7 am, you’re in a tough spot. Figure out a solution early on. That solution may be adapting your own sleeping habits or figuring out what kind of alarm wouldn’t wake you.
Bathroom. You might not have thought of that before, but the definition of “gross” is subjective. So, discuss your bathroom routines and clean-up rules.
Studying. Getting distracted while studying undermines your productivity. To avoid it, agree on some basic rules like no chatting and no noise during certain hours.
Making noise. This includes listening to music, watching something on the laptop, and phone calls. If you prefer to keep the living quarters silent, you could suggest using headphones and going out to chat on the phone.
6. Be Transparent
When you discuss living together, you may be tempted to bend the truth about how neat you are, for instance. Don’t. The truth will come out one way or another. Then, that first impression will be a lot worse in retrospect – because you weren’t 100% honest.
That said, it doesn’t mean you have to bombard the person with a ton of personal information in the first five minutes of texting them. Wait until you meet in person.
And even then, there’s no need to describe every detail of your lifestyle unless you’re prompted to. The takeaway is, don’t lie.
First impressions are important, but they can only go so far. They won’t be able to trump how you behave three, six, nine months into the dorm life. Your roommate might get easily disillusioned about living with you if you keep disrespecting their personal space or throwing dirty clothes all over the place.
So, here are four tips for making your co-living work in the long run:
Talk about pet peeves. You may unintentionally push someone else’s buttons, all because you don’t know their limits or needs. So, be straightforward and ask about their boundaries and what annoys them.
Spend time together. Your roommate won’t automatically become your BFF; you will have to earn it. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day – and relationships aren’t either.
Or just leave each other alone. Sometimes, two people aren’t meant to be friends. You may be too different or simply not interested in each other. And that’s fine, it happens: getting a roommate is a lottery. In this case, just give each other space.
Bring up issues early on. If something bugs or irritates you in the person’s behavior, don’t wait too long to have a conversation about it. Passive-aggressive behavior won’t get you anywhere.