by Kristina Grappo, guest blogger, TCK, and recent grad- (This blog was written before the age of COVID, but is still very relevant today)
It’s freshman move-in day. You’re the first person to your room. You’re finally able to get rid of your parents. Bed Bath and Beyond trip, check! Last minute trip to the grocery store to stock up on granola bars, Easy Mac, and Ramen, check! Congratulations, you are officially a college student. You feel like the coolest thing since the the Iphone, and you start to put your Ikea Dorm Room Collection together. You think about what your roommate is going to be like, the parties you’ll go to, how you will be best friends for the next four years, even your kids will play together some day!
Then boom, your roomie walks in, and you realize you don’t want your future children anywhere near this person’s future children. And then you discover the worst part—they have a boyfriend or girlfriend who is just as annoying as your roommate. And if you’re really lucky, the boyfriend or girlfriend will still be in high school, so you get to deal with this punk that your roommate has to call every morning before her significant other goes to school at 6:30am. And your roommate will insist on staying in the room to make these calls (true story).
You try to be cool and give your roomie a chance. After all, if you’ve moved around the world and made new friends everywhere you’ve been, so how hard can this be? But there’s just no moving forward with this person. She’s messy, inconsiderate, talks way too much, is all up in your biz, parties way too much, or even worse, just stays in the room all the time. It finally hits you; your roomie is just downright weird and annoying. What makes it worse is that you’re parents are assigned overseas, so you can’t even go home on the weekends to get away from it all. Chances are, it is very unlikely you’ll have a roommate like this. Sometimes you won’t be best friends with your roommates, but you’ll at least be friendly with them, and can easily inhabit the same jail cell-sized dorm room for a year. If that’s not the case though…
You know that feeling when you keep something in for so long, and you justfinally reach a breaking point and you just snap at a person? Yeaaaa, you’re gonna want to avoid that at all costs. The best way to deal with an issue of a roommate is to confront him/her before you reach that breaking point. Confrontation is uncomfortable, and always a bit scary, but it’s like cleaning: if you do it a little at a time, it’s so much easier. If you wait till it’s a huge mess, then it becomes a big task that you never get around to, and then it just stresses you out. If you confront your roommate in a respectful matter, chances are he’ll be receptive.
If not, that’s what RAs are for. Don’t be afraid to go to an RA and tell her your concerns—that’s what RAs are there for!
Example: It’s a Thursday night, and your roommate wants to have people over to your room. You have already planned to start writing your big paper that’s due on Monday.
You: Hey [weird roommate’s name], would it be possible to go to someone else’s room tonight? I was planning on starting my paper that’s due on Monday…
Best Case Scenario:
Roommate: Yea, sure! We can just go to [name of weird roommate’s friend]’s room.
Worst Case Scenario:
Roommate: Well we have been planning this for a week now, and there is not really anywhere else to go…
this brings me to my next tip.
Living with a stranger is tough, and it’s probably tough for your weird too (although clearly, she is the one with the weird habits). But, as with any relationship, be it with a significant other, a parent, a sibling, or a friend, it’s important for you to be willing to compromise so that both of you can be satisfie
You: Oh, okay… How about they come over a bit earlier, say 8:00, and I’ll go to the library until midnight. Would it be possible to have people leave at midnight?
Best Case Scenario:
Roommate: Yea, that should work fine!
Worst Case Scenario:
Roommate: Midnight?! That’s so early!
You might be surprised to find this out, but most Resident Advisers (or RAs) have been in the same situation. They are also college students themselves, and like to have fun, go out with their friends, and find a quiet place to study, just like you. Most RAs are pretty reasonable, and are there to help.
Don’t think you’re being a tattle tail—often times RAs have a sneaky way of going about things so that your roommate will never know you went to see them. They can also offer some mediation, and tips to help deal with them. Most universities offer roommate contracts that roommates create together, and I highly recommend doing this. Who knows—maybe there are things you do that annoys them. If worse come to worse, an RA can help you get a room switch, although that should be the very last option.
I can’t tell you how many times I was tempted to throw a “rager” the night before my weird roommate’s last final, just to spite her. I will admit, I have stopped cleaning, just so that she would realize how much of it I did… and let that go on for a really long time. But then, I just got super annoyed and ended up having to clean the huge mess anyway. That’s the kind of behavior that just makes things worse, and starts unnecessary gigantic fights.
When you feel the urge to call your parents overseas at 5:30 in the morning so that you can catch them on their lunch break (all while in your room, of course), that’s when you need to revert back to tip number 1. Just be honest—tell your roommate in a nice way that his behavior is not conducive to your way of living. No need to relate your dream about putting ExLax in his coffee before having to give a presentation.
This was one of my hardest lessons in college. So, if you figure out how to do it now, it will save you a lot of anguish later on. Being an adult means dealing with your problems head on, and doing it with as little conflict as possible. One of the best things anyone can learn is confrontation is NOT conflict—it actually helps to avoid it!
So, be adult about having the worst roommate ever. Always take the high road, try to be as patient as possible (even when it might be really hard), but most of all, don’t let that weird roommate disrupt your college experience, distract you from academics and other important university activities, and ultimately destroy what is going to be a truly awesome experience. Take matters into your own hands, be proactive, and do what you need to do to make sure these four years are going to be the best of your life.
Keep in mind, too, that colleges have hundreds of other places you can be besides your room. In fact, you only really need to go there to sleep. Get involved; go to the library, the gym, an athletic or theater performance, or even just a friend’s room. These are all things that will keep you out of your room, and will enrich your college experience (and your roommate’s too, by the way). The more you keep yourself busy, the more you’ll find that you don’t even have to hang out with this person.
When it comes time to put in your room request for sophomore year, make sure you find someone that you can live with easily—and that doesn’t always mean your best friend!! More about having issues living with your best friend to come…
The bottom line is that these should be some of the best years of your life, but only if you make them so!! Don’t let tickle fights between your annoying roommate and her equally annoying boyfriend, or maggot-infested Chinese food in your mini-fridge ruin your college experience. (Both are also true stories, BTW.)
Part of being an adult is taking charge of your own life, so tell the Worst Roommate Ever to turn down their trashy music, start doing their part, and to be considerate of you! If none of these suggestions work, we live in the 21st century people, so go on the Internet and you’ll find tons of other suggestions on how to deal with these types of people. And last but not least, don’t ever listen to that little voice in your head telling you to put the rat cadaver you dissected in Biology in your roomie’s bed.
Kristina Grappo, who was always the world’s perfect roommate, is a graduate of Villanova University, a Third Culture Kid, and the daughter of this blog’s owner. She has seen her share of roommates and has found that as a recent grad getting on her feet, her life with roommates is far from over.