Roommates 101

By Mariah Castillo

Welcome Class of 2019 and amazing transfers! I hope you’re enjoying NSOP so far and getting enough sleep during this long but exciting orientation week!

Mixed race college students relaxing in dorm

I’ve been lucky enough to have lived with amazing people each year I’m at Barnard, and even when given the opportunity to have my own room, I still preferred to have a roommate. On the other hand, I’ve heard of roommate nightmare stories; just two rooms away from me during my first year, a pair of roommates couldn’t settle differences to the point that one of them actually withdrew from Barnard. Hopefully it doesn’t get that bad for any of you. Here are some tips on how to live with one roommate (or three).

  • Communication is key. You will be living with your roommate(s) until (at least) May of next year. While you may pick up on some of their habits, it will be MUCH easier to ask them about their routine, tell them about your routine, and if there is anything that they have done that bothers you, do not keep it to yourself. As stated before, what you’ve taken for granted before might not work when having roomies.
  • Learn to compromise. With the first point being said, you have to accommodate to your roomies’ needs at least as much as you do for them. The survey Barnard had you fill out during your housing lottery is not perfect, so learning about each other’s routines and actively finding ways to compromise is a must.
  • You don’t have to be best friends. While being besties with your roomies sound great, it’s not a requirement. In fact, you don’t have to have anything you like in common, but it’s always a plus.
  • Respect each other’s property and time. You probably had to fill out a “roommate contract” with your roomies already, and if you haven’t you probably will do this or something similar in the next few weeks. One thing you would have to figure out is whether you and your roommate can use each other’s beauty products, eat each other’s food, and let other people into the room. It’s all decided between you two (or four), so talk amongst yourselves about this, write it down, and, if anyone breaks these pre-determined rules, speak up! Also, Barnard dorms aren’t exactly spacious, so be conscious of where your belongings are. The room doesn’t belong to just one person, so give your roommates some space to express themselves.drama
  • Do not be passive aggressive. One small complaint you keep to yourself can easily turn into thousands. Not communicating enough with your roommate can cause unnecessary tension and drama. No one wants to feel unwelcome in their own home, so replace your shady comments with constructive statements. As part of this, PLEASE do your best to not share all your nitpicky complaints with others, unless you need advice on how to talk to your roommate, because that can stress them out more than they already are.
  • How you feel can affect your roommates’ mood. Yes, we’re only human, and it can be hard sometimes to always be happy. Just keep in mind that having you stress out over something can make your roommate stress out over you. Stress culture is a toxic reality in MoHi, but it doesn’t have to affect your dorm life. If you think you’re roommate is at a low point, feel free to ask her what’s bothering her.

All of these tips apply to living in a suite. While you may or may not have a roommate when living in a suite, you now have the added responsibility of applying these tips with even more people. There are times when, if any one of us didn’t follow these rules, the whole suite got tense.

There are many things you have to figure out as you go through the year. Hopefully, with these tips in mind, you will navigate through dorm life much more easily.

Mariah Castillo is a Senior at Barnard College and the New York, Arts Editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

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