Adjusting to life with a roommate: The basics

Adjusting to life with a roommate: The basics

Today is the day! You filled out that extremely long application that you thought would never end, made endless laps around Target and awkwardly emailed your roommate hoping they shared a few of your pre move-in jitters.

Now, you’re ready to start the best four years of your life, but it is no secret that sleeping four feet away (probably three if you’re in Bostwick) from a stranger for the next 10 months can be a little nerve wracking. Although you’ve probably conducted the most elaborate Facebook stalking extravaganza on this person, here are a few tips that can ease your worries:

Make an effort.

On move in day, nerves can run high. You and your roommate are nervous. Your parents are nervous. Your roommate’s parents are nervous. If everyone understands that and makes an effort to make the day as smooth as possible, it will be great!  Have extra command strips? Offer them to your roommate. Haven’t eaten in seven hours? Ask them to grab a bite with you at Chick-fil-a. As the week goes on, talk to your roommate about their hometown and family. Even though this sounds corny, making an effort to learn something about your roommate will go along way. The first few times navigating the Pit can be tricky, so bring your roommate along so you can sit down and learn a bit about them.

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Don’t be quick to judge.

You have probably spent hours raking through your roommates Facebook page, but don’t be quick to judge if your roommate doesn’t seem to be exactly like you on social media. Part of what makes Wake Forest amazing is you will make friends from all over the country and the world. There is nothing like being in New York for a weekend and having people to grab dinner or catch a baseball game with. Who knows? You two could be best friends by the end of it. Going into move in day with no expectations sets you up to be in the mindset to make a new friend.

Be considerate.

Even though your Freshman RA will make you sign a roommate contract, actually talk about how you live with your roommate. If you like to stay up late to study but your roommate starts winding down early, talk about compromises you can make so both of you can be successful. There are hundreds of great study spots around campus, including the residence hall lounges and study rooms just steps from your door. Chances are, you’ve never shared this small of a space with someone you’ve never met, so go the extra mile to pick up your trash or put headphones in when you’re watching Netflix. You never know how much your new roommate might appreciate it.

Don’t touch their stuff.

This probably goes without saying, but don’t touch or move your roommate’s stuff without asking. This is essentially the first thing you learn in Kindergarten, but it will make everyone’s life easier if you don’t do this.

Compare schedules.

A great way to be considerate is to be mindful of your roommate›s time. For example, if every Tuesday and Thursday you have class at 8:00 a.m. and your roommate doesn’t have class until 11:00 a.m., be sensitive to your roommate who may need the couple extra hours to snooze. Most likely, it will be a mutual understanding. A great way to keep track of what may be going on in your roommate’s day is to hang both of your schedules up in the room.


There will be bumps in the road when sharing a shoebox of a space with your roommate. Knowing how to handles these bumps is the key to successfully living with another person. Is your roommate constantly inviting people over when you need to study or sleep? Do they leave trash everywhere?  If your roommate’s side is looking a little dirty or they play Netflix out loud as you’re trying to sleep, kindly make them aware of your concern. Sure, you can ignore it and handle it passive-aggressively, but the frustration will build up before you know it. Sooner or later, every word that comes out of your roommate’s mouth will annoy you. Avoid this predicament before it happens. Your roommate probably does not even know their habits are getting under your skin. 

You don’t have to be best friends.

No one ever said you had to be best friends with your freshman roommate. If it turns out you are not the best of friends, no worries. You (or your mom) filled out a random roommate questionnaire anyways, so don’t take it personally. However, just because you and your roommate are not best friends doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be friendly or inconsiderate. Get to know your freshman hall, too. Everybody needs friends when they’re first starting out, so put yourself out there and make some!

Treat it as a learning experience.

Throughout your college career and life, you will be put in unexpected situations with strangers. If you’ve never experienced anything like living with a random roommate before, this probably won’t be the last time where you will be forced to cohabitate with someone else. Freshman year can be best summed up in 14 words by the wise Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” So, keep this in mind when you’re navigating the waters of freshman life.

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