If you plan to live in an on-campus dorm, chances are you’ll have a roommate. Living with a roommate can be very beneficial and enrich your college experience, but at times it can also be difficult to share a living space. As someone who has spent the last two years living with roommates from different cultures in college dorms, I know firsthand the challenges and lifestyle changes that come with rooming with someone else. But don’t worry; with a few tips in mind, you can have a great experience together. Here are some of the golden rules of roommates:

Start communicating early with your roommate

It’s better to try to get to know your roommate well before you move into your dorm so you get a feel for his or her living habits. Does your roommate like to wake up early or does she like to push the snooze button a few times? Is your roommate fine with a lot of noise or does she prefer a quiet atmosphere? Knowing your roommate’s lifestyle early on will make it easier to live with her.

Compromising is key

If you share a room equally, then it is only fair that you compromise equally as well. For example, if you are a social person and like inviting your friends over to your room, but your roommate doesn’t, you should limit how often and when your friends are over. With the habit of compromising, your roommate will be like the yin to your yang.

Talk about any problem as soon as it arises

The last thing you want is for a small problem at home to keep building and manifesting until it’s a major problem and creates a lot of tension. It may seem unnecessary at first to bring up a minor discomfort or issue with your roommate (like how she always leaves her wet bath towel on floor), but trust me; it is a lot better to address it now than later. It will also make your roommate relationship stronger and more transparent.

Create a roommate contract

You don’t have to make a super structured contract with penalties for every time a rule is broken, but a simple set of guidelines can go a long way. In your roommate contract, you could add a cleanliness expectation or even a chores schedule. Setting a roommate contract commits you and your roommate to certain expectations, and having that foundation will make the rest of the year more enjoyable.

These things may be hard to do at first, especially if you’ve never lived with another person outside your family before– let alone someone from another culture. However, having a great roommate is one of the best college experiences you can have, and practicing these tips will create a stronger bond between the two of you, allowing you both the chance to learn from each other!

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