Living with Roommates

Going away to college may be one of the most exciting periods of your life. It can also be one of the scariest. Not only are you leaving your home and your family, possibly the only roommates you've ever known, but you may be moving in with a stranger who doesn't know your habits, your pet peeves, your stories. Not to worry. We're here to help make the transition as smooth as possible.

The Department of Housing and Residence Life does its very best to help roommates thrive and provide you and your roommate with the living facilities that you selected on your housing application. If you know who you want to live with, we are happy to place new incoming students in the same room, provided that:

1) You and the other individual both request each other on your housing applications,
2) We receive both of your applications and completed housing contracts, and
3) A double room vacancy is available.

Remember, room assignments will be made according to the date that the last housing deposit was received. In other words, you have a better chance of getting your preferences met if both you and your roommate apply for housing early.

3 roommates
Of course, so much of your happiness with your roommate depends on the two of you and how well you get along. Below are some tips for maintaining a good relationship with your roommate. Utilize these tips by having these discussions as soon as possible. Not only will the resultant conversations provide the framework for the new friendship, but you will understand many of each other's key issues before there is a problem. Also, don't forget that the members of the Residence Life staff are available to help mediate and resolve roommate conflicts.
   

Ten crucial tips for getting along with your roommate:

1. Get to know each other.
You're going to be spending a lot of time with your roommate and he or she is your first opportunity to make a new friend at ETSU. Take the time to ask and answer questions -- about family, hobbies, academic interests, etc. Who is this person? Some questions you can ask:

•  My nickname is…
•  My birthday is…
•  The kinds of grades I want to earn this semester are…
•  The kinds of food I like to eat are…
•  The things I do for fun are…
•  What I like to do for exercise is…
•  Some things I spend my money on…
•  Some things about my family are…
•  Why I came to ETSU is….
•  My major is (or may be)…
•  Some things about my hometown/high school are…

2.Communicate.
Open & honest communication is key in building a positive and successful relationship . Take some time and talk to each other and let your roommate know what is important to you. Talk about how you would like for the two of you to communicate with each other and how you talk to others when there is a problem or conflict. Living together can be stressful and knowing how the other person operates means that you can resolve conflicts before they grow too large. Healthy relationships take work. Some issues you may wish to discuss include:

•  The way I feel about loaning things is…
•  The way I would like to decorate our room is…
•  If something I do upsets you, you would…
•  When I am unhappy or mad, I…

3. Be open and friendly.
Remember that both of you may be anxious and concerned about living with a person. Your roommate may be experiencing the same issues and concerns that you are and may be under the same pressures. Talk to each other about what is important to you and things that may affect your relationship as roommates.

•  The way I feel about dating is…
•  My favorite movie is…
•  My favorite food is…
•  My ideal vacation would be to go to…

4. Define "neat."
Whether you're a neat freak or a slob, you have someone else's feelings to consider. With a little give and take, you can each adjust accordingly and make your environment comfortable. You need to make sure that you both (1) agree to how you are going to keep the room, and (2) what you are going to do if one of you is not living up to your agreement.

5. Discuss visitation hours.
Talk about when it's okay and when it's not okay to have visitors in the room. Also discuss how often you both plan to have people over. Do you want your room to be a social center or a refuge from the crowds? How about opposite gender guests? When are they allowed in the room? Do you think you might have overnight guests? What are the rules for them?

•  I would like to avoid having guests over at these times…
•  If I feel that a visitor(s) overstays his/her welcome, we would handle it by…
•  The way I feel about your friends using my things is…
•  The way I feel about having people in the room when I am trying to study is…
•  The way I feel about getting dressed with members of the opposite sex in the room is…
•  The way I feel about getting dressed with members of the same sex in the room…

6. Find an activity you can share.
There's nothing like having something in common to care and talk about. Do you both plan to go to Basler Center for Physical Activity? Maybe you can be workout partners. Perhaps you both enjoy a particular type of film, music, art, or hobby? Do you plan to join any clubs or student organizations? While you will not be spending all your time with your roommate, it doesn't mean you can't do some things together.

7. What about study times and habits?
Talk about how you prepare for classes and tests. Do you study in the room or in another place like the library or a study room? With classmates and friends or alone?  If you plan on doing most of your work in your room, talk about scheduling times so that you both can fully utilize the room and not conflict with each other's activities. Let your roommate know when you have a big test or assignment coming up so that he or she can give you space and quiet time.

8. Give each other space.
Togetherness is great, but too much of a good thing, sometimes that's not so great. You and your roommate both need time alone or with other friends. If that is not happening naturally, talk about it.

9. Are you okay with sharing?
Just because you are sharing a room, doesn't mean you may want to share other things even if you suddenly have twice the wardrobe. Talk about what you want to share and what you want of your own. Can you share a TV? Refrigerator? What about clothes, CDs, appliances, food, etc.? Setting these boundaries early can avoid later conflicts. Sharing a computer?

•  Sharing a television
•  Sharing a stereo?
•  Sharing a game system (Xbox, Playstation, etc.)

10. Pet peeves & personal habits.
What is a big pet peeve for you? What is something that really bothers you? How do you deal with conflict? Do you yell, get quiet, nurse a grudge? You have the chance to talk in advance before you establish a relationship with this person – USE IT!

•  The way I feel about loaning things is…
•  The way I react when I am stressed out is…
•  When I'm depressed I…
•  Something that cheers me up when I am down is…
•  I usually let people know I am angry by…
•  I become easily annoyed by….


If all else fails...

If you have tried to communicate and sort through your problems and you still aren't happy with your living situation, just remember that we can always help by finding you a new room or roommate.