How to make the best out of living with roommates

We are a month into the school year, and by now, everyone should be settled into their housing accommodations. Returning students are trying to gain their footing in their new living spaces, but for many freshmen, this is probably their first time sharing a space with another student.

University life normalizes living with a roommate, offering an opportunity for us to enrich our life by broadening our perspectives through the eyes of someone else. And while this is true for the most part, the university left out one important part: It is not easy. We have grossly underestimated the struggle of living with someone who is basically a stranger. Students come with their different schedules and ways of surviving, and to think that it will magically mesh with another student’s is unrealistic. Add the reality of our tight-spaced, cramped, sometimes outdated dorms, and the situation escalates.

That is probably why if you walk into the housing office in Eaton, you are guaranteed to see a student or two waiting to switch rooms or roommates. We here at The Miami Hurricane are strong believers in the process of switching roommates. There is no use in staying in a room with someone you hate or a space that doesn’t suit you. It is a privilege to attend UM. But, as students, we must feel secure. Our academic and personal lives will undoubtedly suffer if our home lives are unhealthy. It doesn’t matter if you’re 5 or 500 miles from home; everyone deserves to be comfortable.

If you are living with a roommate, you have to work on creating a good relationship. We know you may not want to hear it, but filling out the roommate agreements our RAs are emailing us about right now is probably a good idea. What is better than writing out all your boundaries on a tangible document and having it legitimized? Roommate agreements offer the space for discussion on everything, from what temperature you prefer to whether or not you’re okay with having guests sleep over.

Even though most of UM’s student population comes from out of state, many students evade random assignment and end up pairing with someone they know or at least like. In this case, work still needs to be done to maintain a good relationship. A big misconception is that living with your friend will be void of disagreements and struggles. This is almost never the case. We’ve seen best friends move out because trying to coexist in the same space is just too much. Communication is key in all relationships, especially when you’re sharing a living space.

We can’t do much to change the state of the dorms— the new university housing project is still under construction— but we must do what we can to enrich our roommate experience. Who we live with has a big impact on our lives; a 2013 study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology followed nearly 1,000 former college roommates over 10 years and found that women who had an eating disorder in their early 30s were more likely to have had college roommates who frequently dieted.

Roommates aren’t forever, but they are what we have to deal with right now. Put in some effort and make sure everything works out for the best.

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.

Featured photo source: UM Housing & Residential Life