Living With A Total Stranger: How To Break The Ice With Your New Roomie

Going away to school is intimidating enough. You’re in a place you know nothing about, and if you’re far enough away from home, you probably don’t know anyone who goes there. You’re pretty much dumped in a completely foreign surrounding and told to hit the ground running. If you’re lucky, in some places the ground is made of nice recycled tire mulch. More realistically, though, it’s dirt with a few twigs and stones. And sometimes the ground is cement.
Obscure analogies aside, the only thing more unnerving than being in a place you know nothing about is being assigned to live with a person you know nothing about. Even if your school was nice enough to give you your roommate’s contact info earlier this summer, your conversations haven’t gotten much further than who is bringing the microwave. It can be a scary experience walking into your dorm, laden with boxes, and seeing a room that probably isn’t much larger than your bedroom at home…with another person smiling at you from their bed.
But it doesn’t have to be so scary. Roommates are one of the most awesome parts of going away to college, and I found that having a roommate my first year who was actually a year above me helped a lot. But for all you incomin’ freshmen, that probably isn’t the case. Still, no worries. Here are five awesome ways for you to break the ice with your brand new bud.
1. Decorate!: Dorm rooms are b-o-r…man, they’re so boring that I don’t even feel like spelling out the word. Eggshell white walls and nothing else? Scary. Even though I’m sure you’ve got your posters and tapestries all ready, converse with your roomie about what you have. Lay out your posters over your brand spankin’ new rug. You might find you have similar interest in bands or just both think that your poster of puppies in a basket is really freakin’ adorable. If there are posters of theirs that you like, they can be more centralized in the room so you can both enjoy them, and the same goes in the other direction. If you’re lacking in the poster/tapestry section, hit up sites like or Pandora’s Box and converse together.
2. Stock up those provisions: Meal plan or not, nothing saves you during a late-night study session like a bag of popcorn and a Starbucks Doubleshot. One of the biggest issues with roomies is the sharing of food, sometimes without permission. I know I did it. (Sorry, Lauren.) Cruising down the aisles of your local supermarket together will give you a chance to not only get stuff you need, but agree on things that you’re buying together to share and put boundaries on those special treats that are just off-limits. (Bonus tip: A lot of supermarkets have those little DVD rental machines at the end of the cash registers, where you can take out a DVD for a night for a buck. Pick one with your roomie then head back to your new shared digs for movie night!)
3. Switch tunes: I’m willing to bet that you and your roomie will both have MP3 players of some sort. If you don’t, though, drag out that CD collection (or what of it you brought to school) and then pass them over. Listening to your roomie’s music tastes will give you a good hint of what you’re going to be listening to for the rest of the year, and is another opportunity to find stuff in common. And if you come across a song you both adore, there is NOTHING like belting it out together. Just don’t do this at two o’clock in the morning.
4. Time for work, and time for play: Commiserate with your roomie over the classes you’re taking. If they suck, you can comfort each other. If they’re awesome, you can share your excitement with her. And if you have the same class, voila! You can agree to meet up at a certain point on campus and walk to class together. When classes are over, though, it’s time to chill. Let them know what shows you just HAVE to watch on Monday nights at 9 (ahem), and they can tell you the die-for reality show and they just can’t live without. This way you start to form a respect for each other’s time.
5. Roomies aren’t your BFFs: Well, okay, that’s sort of a lie. Your roomie could easily become your best friend during the year you guys live together. But that usually isn’t the case. As school starts to get less frightening, you’ll form relationships with other people, and you may or may not go your separate ways. If you’re not a freshie and you already have an established network of friends, it’s probably a little less likely that you’re going to be buddy-buddy with your roomie. But that doesn’t mean to ignore them! Come to a mutual ground so that both of you can be happy.
As many horror stories as there are of horrible roommates, it doesn’t have to be that way. Those guys just didn’t bother to learn how to be chill with their roomies like I just taught you to! Of course, there are a ton of other things you can do to help ease that “Oh God, I’m living with a total stranger!” anxiety. But, like everything else that’s going to be happening to you in a few weeks’ time, it’s a start.
[Photo courtesty]

An Intern Thing: Fall Intern Season Is Here
An Intern Thing: Fall Intern Season Is Here
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