Roommates: College and Beyond

Hello, World.

I did a post about roommates a while back (2 years ago!), which was ironically the last time I had roommates for a while. Once I was an RA, I lived alone. Interestingly, I feel like I learned more about myself while living alone. Anyway, I’m sure most of my tips still ring true, but I wanted to update the post, and add a bit more maturity to it. I think I’ve grown up a lot in the last few years, and I think that after two years as an RA, I now recognize common trends, behaviors, and habits that lead to either healthy or unhealthy roommate situations. This might be repetitive if you’ve been reading this blog from the beginning, or at least the last two years, but I really do think everything I’m about to share will help you have a more positive living environment.

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Living with people is hard. Living alone is hard. If you take advice seriously, though, it’ll be easier to adjust to living with people who may be different from you in important ways.

(1) Communicate any expectations right away. Communicating with someone you don’t really know very well can be tricky. Sometimes you come off differently than you intended, and sometimes you aren’t sure how to bring up issues that are important to you. Be sure to bring up any expectations you have. Do you expect guests to only come over weekends? Do you expect the temperature in the house to be warm? Cold? Medium? Things may seem trivial, but they are important.

(2) If a problem develops, tackle it head on. I know conflict can be difficult, and frankly no one loves dealing with conflict (however, if you do, I applaud you). Conflict can be awkward, uncomfortable, and force us to reflect on our own behavior. However, if you let issues bubble and fester, you’ll be worse off. If something is upsetting you, be honest. After all, even if the conversation doesn’t go perfectly, it’s still better than saying nothing and then blind sighting you roommates when you finally have enough.

(3) Be inclusive, and don’t withdraw. Everyone has different ways of living, and even existing. I think something I consider when living with people is how I’d want them to treat me. It’s good to invite the roommates, even if you think they don’t want to go to something. If you actually, fully invite them, maybe they’ll surprise you! It’s better to be inclusive than exclusive. I also feel that if there’s something wrong, you should deal with. The last thing that’s going to help something is withdrawing from the situation. If you stop spending any time interacting with your roommate(s), the situation will just get worse and worse.

(4) If a conversation let something unclear, ask them to clarify. I hate miscommunication, but I hate it even more when it could be avoided. If you have a conversation with your roommate, and walk away feeling bad about something, re-discuss the issue. You both could have walked away from the conversation with completely different perceptions of how it went or what the agreement you came to was. Clarification is key to making sure communication is actually effective.

(5) Be active in trying to build a strong relationship. From my experience, the best roommates are those who actively try to maintain a good, open relationship. When roommates don’t work, it’s typically because there is no actual relationship there other than a living arrangement. If you live in a house, make sure you’re making time a few times or at least once a week to do something as roommates without anyone else. It’s important to get to know each other. And the more you invest, the happier you’ll be and the easier it’ll be to deal with things when the arrangement is having some issues.

(6) Know each others schedules, and respect them. Everyone operates differently. I think it’s important to respect that people are different and that each roommate may do things a bit differently. Try to be respectful if you’re a night owl and your roommate is an early riser (and vice versa).

(7) Talk about guests. Guests, in my time as an RA, were the top reason roommate situations failed. You should feel comfortable in your space, and if people are constantly trekking in and out, that may not be easy. At the same time, if you’re a social butterfly who needs to be around people, you may not want to room with someone who prefers a less-filled social calendar. There is, however, compromise, and it’s essential. Talk about what’s acceptable. If one roommate really prefers to study during the week, maybe don’t have people over to your place. At the same time, the quiet roommate should be okay with having people over at least a few weekends. Talking openly about guests is key. It’s also important you ask before inviting people over. This isn’t a restriction, rather it’s a courtesy! It’s also important to be very clear in what having people over will entail. Again, in my time as an RA, I saw so many people move because of tension over guests, so don’t let this ruin what could otherwise be a great arrangement!

(8) If necessary, set household guidelines. I’ve heard people shun the prospect of actually making guidelines and setting hard rules, but I’ve also seen doing this turn a horrible roommate situation into a great situation. I think if this is really out of character for you, it can be modified so it’s not super concrete, but still communicates the expectations of all members of the living situation.

I’ve only shared 8 tips, but there are obviously a ton more. If you have specific questions, feel free to email me, and I can offer advice!

How do you live well with another person?

Truly,
Callie leigh

Making the Most of Roommates

Hello, World.

I can’t believe tomorrow marks the first day of October (my favorite month of the year). I feel like I just got to school, but then again, I feel like I’ve also been here for a really long time. This year I am living alone, and I really like living alone. I thought I would struggle with not having my best friend (she’s currently livin’ it up in London), but as much as I miss her, I’m really enjoying living alone. I like having a space that is all mine, and I like that I don’t feel guilty if I let my room get a little messy throughout the week. In the last two years, though, I learned a lot about roommates, and I have friends who are currently struggling with their roommate situations. I thought it might be helpful if I did a post about roommates. I want this post to be as positive as possible, but I also want to acknowledge that not every roommate pairing is perfect…even when you choose your own roommate.

roommatesSometimes we are completely unaware of our personal habits, and sometimes we just assume that everyone does something a certain way because that’s the way the people in our hometown or how our family does something. We enter into living with someone with a lot of unspoken expectations, and can, at times, cause a lot of tension within the room. Here’s a fact for you: dorm rooms are small. There aren’t many places to go if you need time alone, time to cool off, or just time to exist without someone around. The following tips are derived from my own experiences and experiences I’ve witnessed.

1) Communicate expectations right away. Remember the expectations I mentioned earlier? Well, bring them up within the first few days of moving in together to ensure that there are clear expectations on both sides. Do you think taking out the trash should be a rotating chore? Your roommate may think you need to take it out because the trashcan is technically on your side of the room. Make sure you communicate what you expect.

2) Make sure you each have a certain number of hours alone in the room per week. The number of hours you will need may vary, but try to consider this. I am a bit of an introvert, and I never realized that I really require a certain number of hours alone in order to be fully functioning. Make sure you’re giving your roommate space. If you are a homebody, make sure you’re making a point to let your roommate enjoy your room every once and a while. I’ve seen countless cases of people trying to go back to their room to relax, but their roommate never left their room, so it was unrealistic unless the roommate was in class.

3) Make a personalized roommate agreement. Your college may supply a roommate agreement/contract, but know that it won’t cover everything. Keep your very own in your room to have on file in case anything comes up. This way you can try to solve the conflict before having to take it to your RA or higher.

4. Keep your side of the room as tidy as possible. Messy roommates are the worst. Even if both people are a little messy, it’s better to keep your room a little tidier than usual. If a roommate conflict arises, people tend to blame little things first. In this regard, if she’s mad about your boyfriend being over, when she relays this to her friends she might also throw in, “and she NEVER cleans up her shoes. The shoes just sit in the middle of our room…” It may be an embellishment, but still, if you maintain a clean room from the beginning she is less likely to complain about the room.

5. Do not be passive aggressive. When something bugs you, tell her. I’ve always kind of struggled with this one. I’m pretty non confrontational, so I usually attempt to just ignore things and hope they go away, and then they don’t go away, and I get really irritated and it builds I start spending no time in the room. If something bugs you, tell the roommate right away and discuss it.

6. Be active in trying to build a strong relationship. You may not be a perfect match, and you may have very little in common, but maintaining some kind of relationship is important whenever you live with someone. Are you headed to the campus cafe for coffee? Ask if your roommate would like to join. Are you going to study off campus? Invite the roommate. Are you going to the grocery store with friends? Ask if she needs you to pick anything up. Be active, keep reaching out. Just because you don’t immediately click doesn’t mean you should stop interacting in a positive way.

7. Know each others schedules, and respect them. If you know your roommate has an 8 a.m. class, and you  have friends over in the evening, make sure they’re gone by 9 p.m. so she can relax and get a good night’s sleep. Are you a day studier? Let her know in advance, and maybe ask that there aren’t many guests during the middle of the day. Do you need silence to study? Make sure you both wear headphones if the other person is studying.

8. Respect Your Roommates things. Don’t let your friends hangout on your roommate’s bed, and make sure you’re not using your roommate’s stuff. You should try to be as respectful as possible, and if you need something, want something, etc. just ask ahead of time.

9. Offer comfort. If your roommate gets a little homesick, seems down, or is just having a bad day, offer an outlet for her to talk or vent about what’s up. Make sure you let her know you care, otherwise you might seem a little heartless. Also, if you reach out, she’s more likely to reach out to you when you’re having a bad day. Also, if she isn’t your best friend, sometimes it’s actually more helpful to talk because she’s not as personally invested (in theory).

10. Talk about guests. Whether the conversation focuses on overnight guests or just regular guests, you must have this conversation because guests are inevitable. Unless you or your roommate is a hermit, you’re going to make friends, and you’re going to want them to come over. Make sure you both have a clear understanding of what’s expected when this happens.

These are just ten tips of how to be a good roommate, and how to be a good roommate when you’re not best friends with your roommate! Try to make your year the best it can be by minimizing any drama.

Truly,

Callie leigh

Feeling Right at Home… Away from Home

Hello, World.

I’ve lived on campus for roughly two and a half weeks now, but since WOW was go, go, go, I’ve only just started feeling really at home again, even though I’m not actually “at home.” Since I did a “Dorm Decor” wish list a few weeks back, I thought it would be fun to share my new home with you all. I’ve recently spent a lot of time reorganizing things, making sure all my belongings have a nice, convenient spot in my room.

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ImageThe above photos are a basic overview of the layout of my room, and give you a general idea of how I’ve organize everything! My room this year feels like a hotel in comparison to the closet I lived in last year. I absolutely love my new room, and the layout is so much more open and functional.

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Next is my desk. I have quite a few of my most important belongings on my desk this year. I don’t have a bookshelf actually on my desk this time, which I found gives me much more actual desk space for photos, my iHome, and other little nick knacks. I also have things that my close friends from home gave to me, which keeps them close even when I don’t see them.

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My best is a beautiful thing for a few reasons. First, I love sleep, especially after days of endless reading, conversing, and testing. Second, under my bed is my “hideaway” zone. This means that under my bed is storage. Here I store all of my laundry stuff, food, DVDs, winter clothing, first-aid kit, etc. I also put my drawers under my bed so I have more room to move around!

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The wall next to the built-in vanity is my favorite wall. It holds my SMC pennant, my calendar (without which I would be a lost, blubbering mess), and one of my favorite photos of all time. On this wall you will also find my tea, which is also known as my life’s blood. My [dorm] neighbor, Sasha, gifted me the gorgeous green tea pot, and tea cup for my birthday, so for loose leaf tea I will be utilizing this little gem throughout the year!

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My closet is home to my clothing, mug collection, microwave, and scrapbook. A closet’s use is pretty self-explainatory, but in case you were unsure, my clothing can be found here.

Continue reading “Feeling Right at Home… Away from Home”