For her first round of exams, my roommate studied in the closet because I had an aversion to fluorescent lighting and went to sleep earlier than she did. I had no idea that I was being inconsiderate, but I was. I only realized it was an inconvenience to her when she told me the following semester, and we became more comfortable with each other. Luckily, she’s not the type to burn my clothing in retaliation, although I could have been a little more considerate.
Don’t blow-dry your hair past 11 p.m. Hygiene is moderately important, but not at the expense of your suitemates’ study schedule. Initially, sharing a bathroom can be inconvenient, but you will learn to share just about every other living space in college.
Also, try not to clutter the floor with conditioners and shampoo. Our shower was dimly lit and that—accompanied by a plethora of haircare supplies—was a major tripping hazard. I’m not saying I didn’t contribute to that plethora; I just think others can learn from my mistakes.
Privacy is hard to come by. This difficulty is typical of college in general, but even more so in smaller schools. Some residence hall rooms have shared walls, and these walls are thin; it’s best not to announce your social security number while impersonating Morgan Freeman. It won’t be a secret for long.
It also helps to clear the air about your living habits. Sleeping schedules, preferred AC temperatures or use of illegal substances are all nice topics to share with your roommate. Residence halls are not zoos. Create some kind of boundary or standards system between the two of you, even if it might be tempting to let go of reason and resort to animalistic behavior before finals.
Call maintenance as soon as you discover a problem with your room. In my room last year, there was a sliver of light between the door frame and where the door was supposed to be. We noticed the faulty construction early on, but I only called months later when the summer breeze traveling through the crevice turned into an icy stream of unwelcome air. We even rearranged our beds to avoid frostbite instead of picking up the phone. It took two days for the problem to be fixed. Procrastination is never worth it.
There is no need to burn bridges with the person who sleeps a few feet away from you at night. Try to be polite if you disagree with them. It can seem difficult to compromise, but compromise is more rewarding than an argument that would leave you both on edge.
They might be just as anxious about this “coexisting” thing as you are. Plus, it never hurts to smile or be nice. Even though cynicism can be easier than friendliness, it’s easier for your roommate to be honest with you when you show that you are someone who is willing to listen.