Unless you plan on living your university years alone, you will have to live with a roommate in university. That could be an enjoyable and satisfying experience or simply a source of anxiety and it all comes down to how you interact with your roommate. Getting along with your university roommate can be tricky; you’ll be sharing your personal space and maybe a TV, bathroom or closet, so you will need to have some rules in place. Here are some tips and tricks to help you get along with your roommate.
You don’t have to become best friends; however, you will need to communicate and it will be useful to learn about each other’s backgrounds, family, hometown, customs and traditions. As the saying goes, sharing is caring; that will help you start off living together on the right foot. Treat your roommate the same way you would like to be treated. Show respect, appreciation and try to listen to what the other person is saying.
Whether it is cleaning or washing the dishes, you both need to agree on dividing the chores as you live together. Put up a chores sheet on your refrigerator and mark it daily. That’s one way to avoid arguments before they even start.
It is not just the chores that need a schedule. As two people living together for the first time, you need to sit together and set a few guidelines for your daily lives. If you do not like visitors after a specific time, tell your flatmate. If you share a refrigerator, organise your stuff inside and set rules on what is shared and what is not. For TV, create a calendar of when you need it, and maybe set a time to watch something together, if you are both interested in it.
Whenever something is bothering you, don’t keep it to yourself. Casually mentioning something to your roommate could sometimes solve even big problems. If you just get the problem out in the open, you and your roommate could work on a solution together, and you won’t have to tiptoe around each other.
No one wants to be around people all the time, and that is totally fine! Agree on an alone-time sign between you and your roommate. So maybe ask them to come back later whenever there is a “ Don’t Disturb” sign on the door, or just simply send them a WhatsApp message whenever you need some privacy.
Whether you’re living in a university dorm or a PBSA, a great step to solve a problem you cannot handle alone is to talk to your resident assistant (RA) or accommodation manager. They are trained professionals, and they have the resources to help you most of the time. They can even help facilitate a discussion between you and your roommate, if you feel you cannot work a problem out between the two of you.
90% of conflicts occur because of a lack of communication between tenants. Consider different conflict resolution techniques to avoid arguments and if possible try to speak in person. Make sure that you express yourself clearly, giving specific examples and avoiding generalisations such as ‘you always’ or ‘you never. Ensure that you give your roommate the opportunity to express their opinion as well. Read about multiple conflict resolution techniques and start applying them. Read Maxwell's conflict resolution paper to learn more.
This might sound unrelated; however, sleep reduces irritation which could reduce conflict as a result. Discuss your sleep pattern with your roommate to avoid any disturbance at night.
There are a lot of strategies you can use to resolve conflict with your roommate and establish a positive living environment for both of you. You never know, you might just end up living with your new best friend!