Mar 31, 2009

Hot Tips: Dorm Life

by Amanda Sullivan

As a junior in college, I have had more than my fair share of roommates. I have had five roommates in three years. I generally acquire the roomies whose lifestyles do not coincide with my own standard of living or those whose idea of fun is slightly more adventurous than my own mild-mannered tastes. I have even been paired with the Messy Marcy who fits perfectly with my personality, which borderlines on being OCD. I like my pen drawer organized. I have also roomed with Hotshot Holly who thinks it’s cool to party all the time.

Despite my roommate faux pas, I have had some wonderful experiences that have altered my life. If you have issues communicating with your roommate, I recommend living with a roommate from China who does not speak English well. My experiences with my Chinese roommate taught me what it means to be a good roomie, if only because it was the only way we could legitimately live together.

In an effort to help you — the one with the finger pointing directly at your roommate — I am relaying some of my wisdom to you.

Consider considering others
Regardless of how different you and your roomie may be, nothing softens tattered emotions like concept of consideration. Generally, I try to avoid clichés or overused phrases, but the Golden Rule of “Do onto others as you would have them do unto you” rings true. I guess our parents did not drill that into our thick heads for nothing. In all honesty, be considerate. Ask before you turn music on, turn the lights out, invite friends over or hog the bathroom in the morning. It never hurts to ask.

A clean room is a happy room
For some people the idea of cleanliness is not an issue. However, dirty, week-old dishes, piled high in the sink only add to everyday stress for some individuals – myself included. Remember to put dirty clothes in the hamper because contrary to popular belief, the floor is not the largest shelf in the house. Another way to ensure roommate togetherness is to keep the bathroom clean as being greeted with a gob of hair on the shower wall is not a pleasant experience.

Keep communication lines open
Finally, be willing to communicate. In the almost destined event of conflict, effective communication is crucial. Remember to remain calm and not spout off in a rant, which will only cause the other party to become defensive. Try to fully listen to the other person’s side of the story before you try to tell your side. During conflict, you should be especially careful to not just listen, but hear what your roommate is saying. He or she may no be a fan of the smelly socks that permeate the room either

Contact Amanda Sullivan at


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