Looking forward to college? Being out on your own, studying the subjects you’re actually interested in… sharing the smallest room you’ve ever seen with someone you barely know? Welcome to dorm living. Hey, it’s unavoidable. But it doesn’t have to be the aspect of college you want to block from your mind forever. Co-existing harmoniously with your dorm-mate can be achieved with a few simple tips.
Coming home to a dorm that is comfortable for both of you is vital, even if you have drastically different tastes in how you would like that room to look. Start by sitting down with your roommate—before you haul in the 150 gallon aquarium with the built-in speakers and your collection of environmental sound CDs, and try doing this:
- Find a general design that makes you both happy. Bunk beds? A little ‘fridge to share? Wall art? Remember that your computer workstations—oh yeah, you’ll need one of those—will take up the greatest percentage of space in your room. Instead of two clunky, oversized desks, two printer carts, and cables running everywhere, consider a few alternative options. We found a great option at versatables.com. Designed for maximum space efficiency, the adjustable classroom table was created for two people to use the same workstation at the same time! And it costs less than $250 (divided in half, that’s less than you’d each pay for a lesser quality individual desk). And you can decide together what color combination to choose.
- Go shopping together. Before you head out, each of you should make a list of what you like and what you especially don’t like: bold colors, abstract art, nautical themes… Exchange your lists and commit to not picking out items that would fall under your roommate’s “can’t stand” list. Then, come up with a plan of what you’re going to look for when you do shop and stick to that plan. For example, if you realize you both like neutral colors, dark woods, and lots of candles for ambience, don’t start picking out wild, colorful prints because they catch your eye as you shop. Pick the stores that sell the neutral tones and dark woods, and visit them together. You might not be getting exactly what you love, but you won’t end up with something you hate either.
- Have a meeting to discuss your living styles. Do it over lunch and really talk about it. What housekeeping task do you hate the most, which don’t you mind? Are you a neat freak or a slob? Do you like to sleep with the room freezing and lots of blankets, or crank up the heat? It’s important to be aware of the other person’s living style so you can make plans to deal with them in case they don’t match your own.
You can’t prevent every potential dorm-mate problem, but you can go into the living situation with the right attitude and a plan that will effectively minimize stress. And that will make your next four years much more enjoyable.