Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Dirt on Roommates

So, I have been pretty lucky when it comes to roommates. Other than an awkward few months in Charter Oaks, I've had some pretty awesome roommates. Mindu and Tanisha were awesome people to live with. We all worked together, worked everything out as it went and just had 2 very awesome years living together.

As an RA, I learned that not all roommate relationships are like this. In general, as we head a floor, we learn which rooms are the ones that have those harmonic relationships. At the beginning of this year, we all had to sit in with the rooms on our floors and do roommate agreements. For us, it was a way to get to know each residents and we created a space for each roommate to talk about what they would need for this upcoming school year and for each other to get to know the others' schedules.

This was the moment that we as RAs could kind of pick out which rooms were going to be difficult throughout the year. By the end of the year, we all had a mental note of those rooms that would need some extra attention and possibly conflict resolution later in the year. So, here is a list of roommate issues that may happen in college:

1. The messy roommate

One of the worst things, if you are a clean person, is the messy roommate. This is the person that has the clothes all over the floor, doesn't do their dishes as they use them and basically leaves a trail everywhere. This is the person who works better in a mess. I admit, I am one of these people. I am not the most organized when it comes to my personal items, but I always know where they are at.

But for someone who is the opposite, I understand how being in a dirty environment can actually not help your concentration whatsoever. So, the dirty roommate can actually become an annoyance. This can lead to disagreements.

Solution: The only thing I can say to try for this type of roommate is talk to them. Sit down with them and explain how you need a cleaner environment to be able to focus. Ask them to try to keep the mess in the common areas to a minimum and pick up after themselves for a bit. You can't fix it all at once, but they may not be aware that it makes you uncomfortable. If they don't listen, or get offended, it may be worth bringing in someone else (like an RA if you live in a dorm). Sometimes, just speaking up can make a difference.

2. The Naked Roommate

So, maybe they won't be Hugh Laurie, but this is ACTUALLY something that happens. This is the roommate that loves to walk around in the nude. In some cases, this person may just like to sleep without clothes. But, in some severe cases, they will walk around at night...and even the day...without covering themselves up. And don't get me wrong, this happens with both sexes!

Solution: Set some boundaries with them. If it makes you uncomfortable, remember that it is your rights they are invading because you live there too. If the person likes to sleep in the nude and they share a bedroom with you, state that they need to either get a private room or put some clothes on while asleep. You share that room with them and it is your right to not have to see that.

If they walk around in the nude, that brings another problem. You can't have people over because you are afraid that your roommate may come out without clothes. Ask them to at least wear a bathrobe when they are walking in the common areas.

3. The Loud Roommate

We all know them. As an RA, we come to resent those people who like to be loud well into the night. These are the rooms we go knocking on to tell them to quiet down. In some cases, they get written up due to their excessive noise. Sometimes, people talk loud. We all know that person who just never learned to use their 6 inch voice.

Solution: Ask them to quiet down. In many cases, when the RA comes by and asks people to quiet down, they do! Some people don't know that the music they are listening to is loud, or that they are being loud. If it is bothering you in your bedroom, then it is probably being heard out in the hall and infringing on the rights of others in different rooms.

Make a noise complaint! So, it may seem bad to make a complaint about your roommate...but in a dorm experience, the RA doesn't mention who made the noise complaint. I know, in our building, we will say "someone made a complaint." When they ask who, we just say we don't know who it is. So it is safe for you call and make that complaint.

4. The Party-er

This is the roommate who is drinking, smoking, having people over and just partying their way through college. I won't say that I don't go to parties, I have attended my fair share in the past 4 years. But this is different. This is the roommate who spends a lot of time on the "party" experience and less on their school work.

Solution: In general, if this person goes out at night and comes back, there is not much you can do. Ignore that situation. If they are loud when they come back, make a complaint. But, if they are drinking in your room, having people over all the time, etc. You CAN do something. For one thing, if your dorm is it. You can also do this secretly. The rules are in place for your and everyone else's safety. If your dorm is not dry, well try your best to ignore it. The next day, it may be worth talking to your roommate about their habits.

5. The Gamer

This is the roommate that stays up all times of the night playing games. In many cases, they keep to themselves. But, in other cases, these games can really ruin your concentration.

Solution: If this roommate's games has you awake all hours of the night, ask them to turn down the volume. If they are sharing your room with you and the flashing bothers you, ask them to move out into the common areas of the dorm (and to shut the bedroom door). Talk to them about the sound. Sometimes when you get into a game, you don't realize how loud things are, or how bright the screen can be and how it can bug others.

6. The Quiet One

Normally, this isn't an issue. But as someone who likes to get to know everyone, this can get frustrating. This is the roommate that never leaves the room. This is the person that the RA's begin to worry about as the semester goes on. This person never comes to events and we never see them walking in the sometimes we can think that things are no okay. In general, as RAs, we don't hear much about this roommate. But, if you like to know who you living with and form friendships, these introverts may make it harder.

Solution: Many of the "quiet" people express that they don't get invited places. Just because they seem happy to sit in their room on their computer or with their nose in a book, doesn't mean that they don't want to spend time with you. Invite them, and keep inviting them. They may decline, many times, because their likes are different than yours. But, there may be one time that they will join you. Don't forget about them! 

Or, ask them what they want to do. Many introverts want to get to know you, but may be too shy to instigate. Ask them if they want to do something, and what they want to do. You may find something fun that you never even thought of!

7. The Klepto

There are many varying degrees of this roommate. This may be the person who borrows a shirt and never gives it back, or eats your food without replacing it; to the one who packs away many things that are yours at the end of the year and leaves with them when you are not around. Sometimes this goes unnoticed for months before you begin to see things missing from different spots.

Solution: Make a roommate agreement. If you are not comfortable with sharing clothing, food, personal care items, etc. sit down with you roommate(s) and say so. If you make it in writing, you can use it later when you start finding those "missing" items. If you do this at the beginning of your stay together, ground rules are set. If you are okay with sharing, specify how you want to be asked (if at all) and if there is any way you want the borrowed thing to be returned. If damages were to happen, if the borrower would need to replace or repair. Anything that goes along with this.

Of course, these aren't the only roommates that you will come in contact, but theses are a few of them that may come up in your college life. If you have any roommate experiences that I haven't shared, and maybe some solutions too, feel free to comment. As always, thanks for reading!

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