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College 101: The basics of sharing a dorm room

Good headphones are a must when you want to study in peace. Credit: Photodisc Good headphones are a must when you want to study in peace.
Credit: Photodisc

Freshman year is full of major adjustments for most students, and one of the biggest ones is sharing a dorm room with a virtual stranger for an entire school year.
While it may seem like everyone becomes best friends with their roommates, the reality is much more complicated than that. We reached out to three 20-something authors for their advice for incoming freshmen.

Respect each other’s time and space


Priya Krishna is a recent Dartmouth College grad and the author of the book “Ultimate Dining Hall Hacks: Create Extraordinary Dishes from the Ordinary Ingredients in Your College Meal Plan.” She encourages all roommates to do the following:

1 Invest in earplugs — you never know if your roommate snores until they snore.

2 Outline clear rules as they pertain to sharing food/clothes.

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3 Establish a schedule for lights out/turning off music at night.

4 Don’t be messy — unless you both want to be, in which case, good luck.

5 Let your roommate know when you want to have people over, and make sure it’s OK with them.

Everyone has their quirks


Never gossip about your roommate, even if you aren’t getting along. Mary Traina (whose book “The 20 Something Guide to Getting it Together” is now on shelves) says roommates should respect each other’s differences.

1 “You may immediately love your roommate, which will make cohabiting easy,” Traina says. “But there is a chance you just won’t have that much in common, and that is totally fine. Not immediately becoming joined at the hip with your roommate can have some advantages as the semester goes on. You’ll have the freedom to do your own thing — study, socialize, watch TV, etc. — without having to take their schedule into account.”

2 “Don’t talk about your roommate behind his or her back, even if he or she insists on wallpapering their side of the room with Avril Lavigne posters. No matter how ridiculous, always say you have no comment on your roommate’s quirks and instead focus on his or her good qualities. You have to have your roommate’s back. Whether you like it or not, you share a bond — that you sleep 5 feet from each other every night,” Traina says.

This is all part of the college experience


“Learning to live with somebody who is basically a complete stranger inevitably teaches you so much about yourself,” writes Julie Zeilinger in her book “College 101: A Girl’s Guide to Freshman Year.” “You learn your limits and the boundaries of your patience, sure, but also self-awareness and the ability to compromise (ideally). At the very least, you get a few interesting stories out of it.”

Follow Lakshmi Gandhi on Twitter @LakshmiGandhi.

 
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