Settling in With a College Roommate – International Student Tips

Settling in With a College Roommate – International Student Tips

You love coffee, they like tea. You do laundry on Sundays, they do it every third day.  

College roommates are rarely soulmates. Often, they turn out to be the opposite of that in many ways. But, co-living in a dorm room or house with one or more strangers has its own pros and cons. Let’s face it; when studying abroad, having a roommate is more of a necessity than a choice. It helps you share rent and save some money for your other expenses.

So, what can you do to make the experience more peaceful?

Well, we’d suggest that you set up rules and boundaries the day you shake hands with your college roommate. Be cordial while doing so, but draw a clear set of rules and boundaries before you are all settled in.

Here are some ways to do that.

Understand your college roommate’s lifestyle and requirements

Get to know what they like to do in their free time, when they prefer to study, and if they often hang out with their friends or like to stay in. While you’re doing that, analyze your own needs and requirements. Finally, check if they match. If not, try to find a solution for that.

Divide daily chores with your college roommate

It’s not a pleasant conversation to have on the first day, but dividing chores early on is a smart way to avoid any miscommunication later. Create a chart if you want, but you have to list everything to your roommate, be it verbally or as a written word.

Here’s a suggestion: Divide each chore day-wise. This means that if you’re discussing washing utensils, you can pick Mon, Wed, Fri, and they can pick Tues, Thurs, Sat, or vice-versa. Sundays can be managed 50-50. This leaves out any chances of either of you being unfair to the other. You both manage the chores, and it doesn’t all pile up on either one of you.

Share grocery expenses with your college roommate

This is a rule that you can discuss a couple of days later. As roommates, you’ll be sharing groceries, electricity, and a lot more on a daily basis. So, it’s a good idea to decide how you plan to share the expenses of each when you are settling in.

Have an honest discussion about this with your roommate. Set up a bill date every month when you both will sit and pay bills together. With online payments becoming a new trend, it has become easier to manage bills. You both can split bills and add notifications for payments every month, too.

Who will cook?

You might prefer to eat at home. You can’t overspend and be broke when it’s time to pay the rent, right?

So, set some ground rules for who will cook when, or if you both will be cooking for yourselves. You can divide days, and if they clean the dishes on Monday, you can cook. If you cook on Wednesdays, they can clean the dishes.

Do not touch each other’s stuff

A few months down the line, you may become the best of friends, but understand that breaching each other’s privacy is never an option. That includes not touching each other’s stuff.

For this to work well, you should discuss where you will keep your items like lamps, home decor, or memoirs. Also, don’t touch that chocolate your roommate saved for later, or that pack of premium coffee they got for themselves.

Dr. Wyatt Fisher, a licensed psychologist, while talking about healthy relationships said, “Healthy boundaries revolve around respecting one another’s preferences, and being sensitive toward your impact on one another.” That’s possible with good communication.

If your roommate has been breaching your privacy or touching your stuff, then you have to respectfully discuss this with them. It’s critical to discuss issues like these without any resentment.

Be considerate towards the choices of your college roommate

It can be difficult to adjust to, but you are now sharing space with another human being that is not a family member. So, be considerate towards your roommate’s choices, especially when you plan to watch movies or shows together. Try to make choices you will both enjoy. It will be a great bonding exercise.

When it comes to music, always use earphones. Don’t blast music at home if your roommate is uncomfortable with it. If they do, try to convey your discomfort honestly.

Pets are the owner’s responsibility

It’s unlikely that you will agree to get a pet together. But realistically, if they have a pet or want to get one, make sure that you both understand that pets are the owner’s responsibility. You don’t have to share chores like walking their pet or feeding them. The same goes for them if you have a pet.

While it is your right to have a pet so long as the residence allows it, you should communicate this fact to your roommate before moving in together. They may be allergic, or prefer not to live with pets. You should ask the same of any prospective roommate if you have an aversion to living with pets.

Create a fund for miscellaneous expenses with your college roommate

There are things that you don’t notice, but they add up to the total cost of living in an apartment or home. Things like soap, paper towels, toilet paper, and cleaning supplies might not be expensive, but they are necessary. Agree to put a set amount into a fund each week or month to cover these expenses. It doesn’t have to be much, and it will prevent one person from feeling like they’re paying for all of the consumables.

Keep your expectations reasonable

Everything is great, and you are sharing a comfortable space together. That doesn’t mean you can expect your roommate to disappear when you have a date coming home, or some old friends staying for the night. Your roommate is not obligated to leave the apartment because you have guests coming over.

You don’t have to do that for your roommate, either. If you are not comfortable doing something, communicate this to your roommate clearly.

The bottom line is that you can have a peaceful stay with your roommate if your communication is clear and straightforward.

Setting up these rules and boundaries will reduce the chances of you and your roommate getting into a fight. But there will always be disagreements, and you should be accepting about them. Don’t make the “boundary” talk boring. Ask your roommate to go out for coffee, get to know them, and tell them about yourself. Have an honest conversation about what you like, what you don’t like, and how you like to spend your day. It’s certainly a serious discussion, but make the conversation relaxed to waive off any awkward situations.

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