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Two months ago, you went from living with people you know to living with a complete stranger. They have different views, different habits and a different lifestyle than you. You don’t have to like your roommate, but you do have to find a way to coexist with them. Otherwise, it could be a long year.

1. Set ground rules.

At the start of the semester, students set a list of rules in a roommate agreement, but most probably disregard the agreement in the beginning. In six months, your roommate might not be your best friend anymore, so you should talk about what you want in the room. Rules make you both accountable if things go wrong.

2. Communication is key.

Talk to your roommate, because as RA Tatyana Kincherlow says, “Miscommunication is the root of all problems.” A simple conversation could help you both come to a civil decision on an issue. If you didn’t like your roommate(s) touching your stuff, then tell them.

3. Clean up regularly.

After a while you might not be able to smell the funk exiting your room, but everyone else can. Wash clothes and dishes regularly so they don’t smell. You don’t live by yourself anymore, so leaving your clothes all over the floor is a no go. Be considerate of the person across the room.

4. Respect each other’s schedules.

This space is for both of you so create a schedule to use it how you want. You have an eight am class and they want to stay up until three am then talk to them. Make it so they leave the room or have the lights off by a certain time.

5. Use a 3rd party.

Whether you like them or not, your RA is there to help you. They don’t want to fill out the paperwork that comes with your fighting with your roommate. When things get difficult, ask them if they have any advice. Your RA has experience in this;  after all, it is their job. Solve the issue sooner than later, because your RA is a direct resource for these situations. 

6. They’re not always your best friend.

Here’s a piece of advice: you don’t have to like your roommate. You didn’t choose them, so you may nothing in common with him/her. That is absolutely okay.  However, despite their shortcomings, you do have to respect them. The room is 50/50, so you have to figure out a way to coexist with one another.

Living with someone else is one of the most difficult experiences you can have, but if you learn to work through it you can discover new skills in conflict resolution. If you’re lucky you might even end the year with a friend.

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