three friends hanging out in dorm
William Meyer/Los Angeles Times/MCT

Start off strong with your new roommate

Let’s be honest: the random roommate assignment is one of the scariest things about being a freshman at Wake Forest. How do they think they can assign roommates by only asking five questions? Not to worry: we were all there once. We remember getting the name of our roommate on WIN and immediately rushing to Facebook and Instagram to friend request/follow him or her. After the acceptance, we wasted hours stalking him or her and making snap judgments off of arbitrary “Likes” (Oh God, she likes Nickleback. This will never work out.) or pictures (too many selfies and you’re conceited, too many pictures of food and you’re catfishing AND conceited).

It’s a very easy thing to do, but an extremely dangerous one. Try not to let any pre-judgments affect your impression too much once you actually meet your roommate. It’s not really fair: social media is a platform in which you present a certain version of yourself to the world, and it’s not always the most reliable one.

Both my roommate and I laugh about it now, but we had both become anxious over discoveries in the other’s profile: she “liked” Sarah Palin (in jest), I had been a high school cheerleader (albeit a snarky one). Luckily, we overcame the Facebook-stalking phase to overcome our next hurdle: we are both extremely different people.

You know those five questions you answered at the beginning of the summer, the ones that would supposedly determine your perfect roommate? They included such insightful queries as: “Are you a morning person or night person?” Those were apparently not so essential in our pairing. In fact, it’s like the Residence Life & Housing gods completely ignored those questions and decided to have a little fun seeing what would happen if they stuck an introverted, early bird math major with an extroverted, night owl English major.

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However, if at first you don’t seem to have much in common with your roommate, try your best to keep an open mind. I’m so glad we both decided to look past our differences, because going into our senior year, we are still roommates. We not only live well together, but we are also best friends. If we had just written each other off because of our differences, my life and my Wake Forest experience would be completely different.

Your roommate might be the first person to broaden your horizons. Give those differences a chance while remaining true to yourself, and you might find that both of you are better off for it.

However, that’s not to say getting used to our different lifestyle habits didn’t take a little adjustment, on both of our ends. For instance, as I mentioned, we have opposing sleep schedules. Since she is naturally considerate, she never woke me up. But it took a little time for me to figure out how to accommodate her sleep schedule so that I did not wake her up.

Which leads me to my next tip: possibly the most important thing in any roommate situation is learning to accommodate one another. My advice? Take however thoughtful you think you should be, and quadruple that number. That’s how considerate you should be if you want to avoid roommate conflicts. Make sure to run things by your roommate (“Is it cool if I have a friend over?”), and are considerate of sleeping schedules, shower times, etc. Talk about these things in advance, and be open, honest and clear so that your roommate doesn’t feel ambushed if you confront her in October with problems you’ve had since August. Give your roommate more chances than you might another person you meet in your first few weeks of college. You have to live with him or her for nine months, so you should make an extra effort to work through issues you might have.

Furthermore, be aware that the changes that come with freshman year affect everybody differently. Any odd or mean behavior may be the result of homesickness or problems with adjusting to college life. Even if your roommate doesn’t end up being your best friend, he or she can help make your freshman year amazing. It is worth it to go the extra mile and be extremely nice. Nobody likes having a stressful living situation, and it’s surprising how little it takes to make your roommate happy, which will in turn make you happy. Make sure to be considerate, open about problems and most importantly, give each other a chance, and you’ll have a great freshman roommate experience.

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