You’ve seen the commercials about college. Your dorm is all neat, nicely decorated, and your roommate instantly becomes your best friend upon first meeting. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. Meeting your roommate for the first time can be awkward and nerve wracking. What do you say? Will you have anything in common? Will you get along? Luckily for you, you have us to turn to. We’re going to give you some do’s and don’ts that will hopefully make that first encounter a great one.
DO: Reach out in advance.
Usually, colleges and universities provide housing information about six weeks to a month in advance of you moving on campus. So, if you happen to have your future roommate’s contact info, don’t be afraid to send an email or make a phone call. Introduce yourself. Ask about their major, where they’re from, some interests etc. Find some common ground.
Don’t: Stalk their social media pages
Although it might be hard, this is an important tip. If your new roommate happens to have a social media page, it can be ok to add or request them. HOWEVER, avoid stalking their profiles. The reason is that doing so helps you formulate opinions about them before you even meet. The bad part is that some of these opinions might not even be close to who they are in real life. It’s so easy to be misrepresented on the internet nowadays. Also, keep this in mind: your new roommate is probably looking you up on social media as well. You wouldn’t want them to make judgments about who you are based on a few posts or photos. So always be fair and give the benefit of the doubt.
Do: Meet in person
If possible, meet face to face prior to move in day. It’s a good way to test the waters and see if this is someone you can get along with. Try grabbing a quick bite to eat, some coffee, or inviting them to an event. You may discover that you’ve found a new friend. If you’re not able to meet in person, there’s also FaceTime, Skype, Google hangout and others. Try to get at least one face to face interaction in prior to move in day. That way, it won’t feel like you’re meeting a complete stranger.
It’s also important to note here that, a first time, face to face meeting with your roommate should take no longer than 1-2 hours out of your day. There are plenty of things you can do within that time. Be sure to agree on arrival and departure times in advance. Don’t make the meeting too long that you run out of things to talk about and it becomes awkward. Meet up, talk for a little while, get to know each other a little bit, and then move on with the rest of your day. Unless of course you want to spend more time to get acquainted. That’s awesome if you do.
Don’t: Share too much too soon.
Your roommate is going to be the person living with you for the next nine to ten months, but that doesn’t mean they need to know everything about you right off the bat. Relax. Share information that you feel is important and relevant for roommates. For example, study habits, class schedules, etc. Save your deep secrets or obsessions for your diary or keep them to yourself.
Do: Be yourself
This is another important one. Being yourself could mean the difference between your first interaction being a hit or it completely going down the drain. As nervous as you may be, take a breath and be yourself. Show your true personality. Don’t feel the need to put up any kind of fronts or facades. If you’re going to be living with this person they’re going to figure out who you really are anyhow. It might as well be today. If you’re being yourself, and you discover that this person isn’t as compatible with you as you previously thought, that’s ok too. Give it a few more interactions. As a last resort If you must, you could always request a new roommate.
Don’t: Be afraid to ask questions
Questions are important when dealing with roommates, maybe even more so than usual. Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you first meet. For example, how do you feel about having guests over? Are you more of a morning person or a night owl? Are you a neat freak or are you a little messy? How often do you visit home? Ask these questions and be honest in your answers. Try to give this new person an accurate description of who you are. Of course you can’t cover everything in one meeting. However, this first meeting where you bring up any concerns, voice your opinions, and ultimately come to a compromise about what goes on in your space. This is also where you begin to build your communication skills. As you already know, communication is key to any successful relationship–even roommates. It’s better to put those things out in the open in the beginning, so that nobody is blinded-sided later on.
One of the beautiful things about college is that you have the opportunity to meet so many people. People who have backgrounds, cultures and even languages that may be different from yours. Think of it as a lesson in tolerance. Most times, they aren’t. That’s a good thing. Keep an open mind, communicate, and make the best of this experience.