Roommates

Last night was the first time my roommate has ever looked at Cows2College. I asked her to look at my blog because (as some of you may have seen) I put up a new tab for my journalism class and I wanted to make sure all of the links were working. As she scrolled around Cows2College’s pages, she asked if I had ever written about her before.

That stumped me. “You know,” I told her, “I don’t think I have. Perhaps I’ve mentioned you once or twice in passing, but never extensively.”

So, I guess I’m remedying that today, per her request.

When I was in high school, one of my biggest fears about coming to college was living in a room the size of a shoebox with a complete stranger. Suffice it to say, it freaked me out. I was entirely convinced that I was going to end up with somebody crazy, somebody I would not mesh well with – a party girl who didn’t care about school and stayed up all hours of the night.

A few weeks before move-in freshman year, I got an email from MSU saying I had been assigned a roommate. Excited yet terrified, I logged onto my MSU account and saw her name: Molly Signs-Rehmann.

Feeling absurd, I sent out an email to her introducing myself and telling her a little bit about me: that I grew up on a dairy farm, was an RCAH and journalism student, and that I took my grades very, very seriously.

We laugh about it now, but our first few weeks of getting to know each other were quite… interesting. She tells stories of how I practically killed her with my willingness to communicate – I don’t even remember how many times I told her I just wanted to get along with her, we didn’t even have to be friends (which is even funnier when you consider that today she’s my best friend).

I’m sorry to say that next year, we are parting ways in terms of housing. I’m getting an apartment with a friend I know from back home and she’s living in another friend’s house. I’ve already told her that I’ll be visiting her at least once a week, if not once a day. We need to have our Kelsey-and-Molly chats; I swear, they’re the only thing that keeps us sane.

So in honor of my wonderful roommate, who shares my love for literature, RCAH, quiet-time, cartoons/movies, and, most importantly, One Direction, I’ve decided to pass along a few tips for high school students thinking about college housing situations. Enjoy, and good luck 😉

  1. Communicate. Really, it’s that simple. In order to live with somebody, you are going to have to talk to them. You will not survive living in a dorm, apartment, house, etc. without setting a few ground rules. If there’s a problem, bring it up, because if you don’t, it will escalate.
  2. Be flexible. You don’t have to be a pushover, but always try to take your roommate’s feelings into consideration. If I’m not happy, Molly’s not happy, and vice versa. Because you’re living in such close quarters, somebody else’s bad mood is bound to affect you in some way, so just be sensitive to their feelings and try to help in any way you can. Don’t be an instigator on purpose – truly respect their requests and feelings. If they need quiet, don’t decide to call your boyfriend (or at the very least, take your conversation elsewhere). You do not want to create a hostile living environment – there’s enough other stuff going on in college to keep you busy, you don’t want roommate problems, too. Other times, you might be the accidental instigator, like when your alarm clock goes off multiple times at 6 a.m. (sorry, love!) or when you decide to disassemble the bunk bed when your roommate has a ton of stuff to do (that one was all on you, Molly 😛 ). Let your roommate know what you need, and if they’re a reasonable person, they’ll do their best to comply. If she likes the window open, instead of shutting it, try putting on a sweater or some fuzzy socks rather than cranking up the heat.
  3. Accept that you and your roommate might be just that – roommates. You might not become best friends. Believe me, I know how lucky I am to get along with Molly so well. We’re the exception, not the rule. We’re the only people I can think who stayed together in a dorm for two years in a row. Similarly, it might not be wise to bunk with the best friend you’ve had since 2nd grade. Living with people is hard, and if you truly appreciate your friendship, save yourself a little pain and think long and hard about whether you would really be a good pair. While it can be terrifying to move in with a stranger, it is also a great way to meet new people. (I actually owe almost all of my friendships to Molly – she brought people into our room last year, while I mostly sat at my desk and studied. Thanks again, hun 🙂 )
  4. Be courteous. This one goes along with numbers 1 and 2. It seems obvious, but I’ve seen other situations where roommates are blatantly rude to one another. Don’t leave your side of the room a mess. Sure, your room is bound to be a little untidy, but when you’re in such a small space, you need every inch. Therefore, every inch cannot be covered in laundry (clean or dirty).  Don’t leave food in the fridge after it’s gone bad. Take out the trash. Dust every now and again. Make these a part of the ground rules you set up at the beginning (if you’re lucky, you’ll be like Molly and I; we kind of automatically take turns doing chores).
  5. Know that there will be bad days. You will not like each other every day of the week, and that is okay. Get out of the room, go for a walk or see a movie. If she just tore the bed apart and you really don’t want to deal with the situation just yet, don’t. Go cool off. I promise it will be better later. You don’t want to say something that might permanently damage your relationship just because you’re angry.

Feel free to email me or comment below if you’ve got any more roommate questions – or if you just want to hear more stories.

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