No doubt moving into a room with a stranger is tough under any circumstances, but when it is also your first experience of being away from home for an extended period, it can be downright traumatic. Some teenagers take to dorm life like a duck to water, either because they are accustomed to sharing a room with their siblings or because they can compare the experience to sharing a room at a summer camp. Others have a more difficult time because they have no frame of reference and simply do not know how to handle sharing a room, not to mention sharing with a complete stranger.
The following etiquette tips will help you to keep the peace with your roommate and ensure your college experience is one that you can look back on with fond memories.
1. Respect the code of silence.
You and your roommate are likely to be on different schedules, and you may also have different study preferences. You may prefer studying early in the morning while he or she might prefer studying at night. Whatever the situation you should be as accommodating as you possibly can if you expect the same in return. This means giving them the space to have a productive study session, whether that means doing your entertaining elsewhere, or simply being quiet while they work. This show of consideration will go a long way in building a respectful relationship.
2. Do not use your roommate’s things without permission.
It is easier to cross the line than you may think, especially when you have to share such a small space. To be sure you are on the safe side you should assume that it is not alright to interfere unless you have asked or you were told outright. This means that you should not take or use anything that does not belong to you unless you have permission to do so. Squabbling over petty issues with your siblings is one thing, but taking this attitude with a stranger’s belongings is entirely different.
3. Try to be clean.
When two people share a small space things can easily get cluttered. Do your part by keeping your area neat, and your roommate may be inclined to follow in your stead.
4. Be considerate about the significant other issues.
Sure you want to spend time with your special friend, but your roommate should not have to be subjected to your public displays of affection. Introduce your roommate to your partner and only invite them to stay over after you have cleared it with your roommate first. It is unfair to monopolize the room for your private affairs when the space has been assigned to the two of you. The best you can do is devise a system that works for both parties and then always abide by the agreed terms.
5. Protect your personal items.
You should keep your treasured items locked away to protect yourself and your roommate. This can prevent an uncomfortable situation if something were to go missing.
6. Remember that the bathroom is shared.
You should always ensure that you pick up after yourself before you leave the bathroom. Think of it as the guest bathroom at home, and picture your parents checking to make sure that everything was pristine before guests arrived. The same courtesy should apply here. You should also try not to monopolize the bath. It will do you well to remember that while you may be in the mood for a long bath someone else may be in a hurry to get to class. The best thing to do is ask if they would like to go first if you think you will be longer than usual.
Sharing a dorm room can be a fun experience if you abide by some basic rules of etiquette. Discussing some key areas beforehand can lay the foundation for a workable relationship, and other minor issues can be addressed as they arise. Probably the most vital factor is keeping the lines of communication open as this means that problems can be thrashed out and a better arrangement can be put in place.