Kalamazoo College's Student Newspaper
By Dr. Danielle W. Standish
By the middle of fall quarter, I imagine that many of you have had some run-ins with your roommates. For many first year students, the novelty of being on campus is wearing off; one may be frustrated with his or her living situation. In short, the honeymoon is over.
Moving to a college campus and living with a virtual stranger is a huge transition for most students, many of whom have not had to share a room for a significant amount of time.
Suddenly you may be aware of your need for privacy, space and confidentiality — ideas you hadn’t really needed to think about before living with a roommate.
As with any relationship, it is important that you communicate effectively with your roommate. You may need to determine how you both feel about having a neat room; the room temperature; overnight guests; personal versus communal property; study and sleep habits; attitudes about drug and alcohol use; and music and noise preferences.
It is imperative that you be assertive by standing up for your rights, while simultaneously respecting the rights of your roommate.
After hammering out some differences with a roommate, try to become better acquainted. First, practice self-disclosure. Building a relationship starts with revealing some parts of yourself and honestly expressing who you are to the degree that you feel comfortable sharing.
Second, find a common frame of reference. It is easier for people to understand and appreciate each other when they have something in common or have shared a similar experience.
Third, accept conflict. Disagreements happen in even the healthiest relationships, and it is unrealistic to believe that you will not have any conflicts with a roommate. Fight fair with your roommate and compromise.