So, you’ve moved yourself and all your stuff into a dorm with one or two other people. Have you seen the TikToks about living in a dorm for the first time asking, “Is it always this awkward?” The short answer is yes, it sometimes is, but here are a few tips that can help lower the awkwardness.
- Be open and real about yourself
Even though you’ve already moved in and have been trying to find your groove for a few weeks now, it’s important to keep in mind to be true and real to yourself. Don’t tell your roommate that you’re okay with having a tv in the room if you aren’t, then one roommate is stuck with a TV that’s collecting dust. If it bothers you, politely ask your roommate to not have people over, or ask that they only have people over when you’re in class. If you’re on the end saying no, remember that your space is also their space, and you’re both paying for the same 10×10 room.
- Discuss rules and norms
If you haven’t already, discuss rules and norms with your roomie. It could be awkward to start the conversation, but to make it easy on you, here’s the easiest conversation starter: “Are there any rules or expectations you have for our dorm?” This way, your roommate can say anything that they might have, but keep in mind that if they say nothing you might have to say something first to get them started. Again, remember that you share a 10×10 room and you both live there, so if your roommate says they want the lights out at 10:00, but you know you’re going to be up until 11:30 almost every night, don’t be afraid to ask for a compromise of 11:00 or ask them if they’re okay with you just having your desk lamp on after 10:00.
- Write everything down
Now that you’ve discussed your terms of engagement with your roommate, write everything down. It might feel old fashioned and stupid, but trust me, if you have any problems (and most of the time you will) a written down agreement of when you’re going to have the lights out, who takes the trash out, and when people can be over will be a lot more helpful to the R.A. then a long game of he said/she said. Sometimes problems can solve themselves. If you can politely say, “We agreed at the beginning of the semester that I take the trash out on the first and third weeks of the month and you do the opposite weeks, does this need adjustment?” If they say yes, listen to their answer, and ask for a solution if they don’t provide one. Think of writing everything down as the receipts, keep your receipts so you can look back when you need them.
- Get outta there sometimes
You have plenty of time now that you’re away from home; you can use it both in and out of your dorm. You’re most likely in a new city, or a city you’ve been to but never lived in before. Get out and explore it! If you’d prefer to stay on campus, get out and find a new study space you like, or join a club that interests you. When both roommates are in the room all the time, it can result in tension between the two. Additionally, one roomie that is always in the room might make it awkward for the other roomie to feel comfortable in their own space. It’s important to consider the comfort of your roommate when you’re spending all of your time in your dorm.
- Don’t be afraid to leave
Honestly, sometimes it just doesn’t work, and that’s okay. Understand that if your roommate isn’t working out, there are steps you can take to get yourself into a better situation. Maybe your roommate can’t keep to the agreement you made together at the start of the semester, or they never leave, and you can’t handle awkward silence. If your living situation is seriously taking a toll on you, ask your RA for advice first. Maybe they have some advice on how to make it more tolerable for you. If it still doesn’t improve, ask for information on changing rooms. It might suck to move in the middle of the semester, but if it’s going to improve your living conditions and state of mind, you might have to do it. And that’s okay.
By following the advice above, I truly hope you’ll have a great year with your roommate(s). Always remember to pause and think a second before you make any rash decisions, and remember that you both share the same 10×10. It is normal for things to get stressful, and you can handle it.