College 101: How To Be A Good Roommateby Candice Cain
May 30, 2000 (Updated Apr 26, 2004)
The Bottom Line Your 5 step guide to being a good roommate.
More often than not, you hear stories of horrible roommates. There are great movies about psychotic roommates, such as Single White Female. I, unfortunately, had to deal with several lunatic roommates during my time at The George Washington University. So, I present to you:
Candice's Five Step Guide on How To Be A Good Roommate
STEP ONE: Be Tolerant.
You and your roommate may come from extremely different backgrounds. For example, my (awesome) roommate was from Turkey, and I am from Long Island. There's a little bit of a culture difference there. She taught me about Turkey and I taught her about America. She learned more English from me, and she even taught me some bad words in Turkish. However, it wasn't always easy because of these differences. She didn't know how to act in certain situations because of her culture, and I had to be very patient. Mind you, your roommate doesn't have to be from an entirely different country to require your tolerance. Different personalities, different religions, different family situations, and different class levels are just a few of the differences that require your tolerance.
STEP TWO: Be Friendly.
Now, don't go overboard here. Remember that you live with this person. If you're not great friends with them, you should at least try to include them in some of the group activities that you participate in. This will help you form a little bond and make a healthier living situation. It may be just shopping or going to a basketball game! Find something you share in common and work from there. With one awful roommate I had, our commonality was Days of Our Lives. Every night we'd chat about it.
STEP THREE: Don't Take Advantage of Them.
If your roommie says it's alright to eat their food or wear their clothes, don't take advantage of it. It's really not fair. Your roommate is trying to be nice to you, and you should be grateful for that. Don't abuse it! If you borrow something, make sure you return it in the same condition. And, don't wear things you know won't fit you. For example, I loaned my sister this gorgeous Jessica McClintock ball gown I have so she could wear it to a formal. (It was an expensive dress.) her roommate begged and pleaded to borrow it, and my sister let her. This girl is about 2 sizes bigger than me & my sister -- especially in the bosom region -- and crammed herself into the dress. Well, while she was dancing at the formal, the dress gave way and popped off of her. The straps were completely ruined. She had them "fixed" but didn't check the job they did. A first year costume student could have done better. Don't do this to your roommate. It's not nice and will cause many, many problems.
STEP FOUR: Don't Judge.
Just because your roommate has tattoos and/or piercings does not mean that they're a criminal. Just because they have glasses and/or dress conservatively does not mean that they're a geek. Don't judge. Don't stereotype. Give your roommate a chance. After all, what if they judged you?
STEP FIVE: Give Them Your Respect.
This is the biggie, folks. It encompasses everything I've talked about in this editorial on one level or another. Treat your roommates as you'd like to be treated. Give them their messages. Don't smoke in a non-smoking room. Don't air their dirty laundry. Let them have their privacy. You already know the rules of respect. Do what your family taught you. If you show them respect, they'll (hopefully) show respect to you.
I'll get off of my dorm soap box now. I do know what I'm talking about, though. While in school, I lived in five different dorm rooms and had eight different roommates. Just remember to take everything with a grain of salt, and you'll be fine.