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The International Student Blog

Tips for Getting Along with a Roommate

Posted on March 22nd, 2019 by Jacqueline Schultz

Arriving in the U.S. as an international student is an exciting experience! Not only will you have the opportunity to improve your language skills and receive an excellent education, you will make long-lasting friendships. Additionally, you will get to experience a whole new culture. As exciting as this is, it may also be nerve-wracking to be in a different environment. The good news is, you do not have to figure everything out alone! Even if your college roommate is not an international student, chances are they are away from home for the first time too. It is important to make every effort to get along with your roommate. This may be difficult when you consider the stress of being in a different culture, getting used to your studies and making friends. To help with your transition, be sure to consider our top tips for getting along with a roommate.

Get to Know Each Other Before Move-In Day

Connecting on FaceBook or via email before move-in day is a key tip for getting along with a roommate. Social media gives you both the opportunity to chat and get a sense of what you both like and dislike. You can start the conversation by talking about practical things, like how you would like to decorate your dorm room. It may also be useful to talk about what you plan on purchasing before move-in day. There may not be much space in your dorm room and it may be counterproductive to have two tvs and mini fridges.

In addition to practical tasks you need to work out, getting to know each other before move-in day allows you to see how you both get along with each other. You can talk about what you like and dislike, living habits, what you plan on studying and what extracurricular activities you both want to be involved in. If your roommate is not an international student, they may provide key insight! For instance, they might already know a little bit about the area surrounding your campus or also have friends attending the same school!

Create a Roommate Agreement and Stick to It

Your school’s RA (Resident Assistant) may require you to create a roommate agreement during your first week in the dorm. A roommate agreement is a contract that both you and your roommate sign that provides an outline of certain room rules. Even if you and your roommate becomes instant friends, living with each other over the course of the academic year may still be challenging. You should take your roommate agreement seriously and really think about what is important to you.

Some basic questions to discuss on your roommate agreement should be:

  • Who will do which dorm room chores?
  • Can significant others or friends stay overnight?
  • Are you ok with borrowing each other’s personal items?
  • What should you do if your roommate is sick or hurt?

Even if your school does not require you to write a, you should consider writing one anyway. This will allow you to work out any pet peeves and provide a foundation for how you both get along. Keep in mind that once your roommate agreement is written, it is considered a contract. Try to maintain the agreement to the best of your ability in order to continue getting along with your roommate.

You and your roommate may become the best of friends, or you may never speak to each other again after a year of living together. Regardless, while you are in the same dorm room, it is important to respect each other’s boundaries. Everyone needs a little personal space now and then. Try to consider what you would appreciate from your roommate. For instance, if your roommate is pulling an all-nighter and needs a nap during the day, you can probably study in the library. 

Have Fun Together

College is way more than just going to class and studying. There are many different experiences and ways to get involved on campus. If you want to get involved in a campus organization, you can always ask your roommate to go with you to check it out. You can also get involved in something that they care about as well. It is important to be open and your roommate may even introduce you to your new passion.

You and your roommate can and should take some time to get to know the area surrounding your campus. Take an afternoon and go find that perfect coffee shop where you can get away from campus! You can also go see a movie or attend a concert! Odds are that your school has a lot of different ways for you to get involved in your campus community, especially if you are a new student. By exploring these different opportunities and having fun together, you will be building long-lasting bonds for the rest of your time in school.

These tips for getting along with a roommate are a great way to start. However, you have been paired together for a reason! You and your roommate will have many great experiences and can really be there to support each other during a period of transition. College should be the place where you make friends and try new things. Having someone to explore with can make all the difference.

What are your tips for getting along with a roommate? Feel free to post your top tip in the comments section!

Written by Jacqueline Schultz

Jacqueline joined the EIC team in 2017. She has a BA in International Relations from Rollins College. Prior to joining EIC, she has worked in sales and the nonprofit sector. Her passion for international education led her to Envisage.

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