Key Notes on Roommate Etiquette

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Roommate etiquette is something the majority of us have to adjust to when moving off to college, or just moving in with someone in general. Having to adjust to living with someone other than a family member can be tough, especially during your first year of having a roommate. I am not saying that the following years become easier, but your first year is when you start to learn the basics of roommate etiquette. This brings me here to share with you all, my opinion on five basic key notes to keep in mind in regard to roommate etiquette. I personally think roommate etiquette is important to establish because it helps with becoming friends with your roommates and remaining friends. These key notes are in no particular order.

  • “What’s yours is mine, and what’s mine is yours” – A phrase that most of us throw around when first moving in to reassure that you are comfortable with your roommate and are willing to share. I am personally all about sharing, just as long as somebody doesn’t take the gesture too far.  Even though one of my roommates has clearly expressed that I am welcome to anything of hers, I still ask for permission before I use something that belongs to her. A friend of mine has had some issues with her roommate on this topic though. Not only does her roommate help herself to food that she didn’t buy, but she does it without asking. Being a student, I know how rough it can get financially and how valuable Ramen noodles become. Just be cautious when offering your belongings because some might approach it as literally speaking rather than figuratively.  And if you are the one receiving the gesture, just keep in mind to ask first. It won’t hurt!
  • Space– When sharing a room, you only have access to limited space as it is. Whether you’re living in a dorm room or sharing a room in an apartment, space becomes valued on a whole other level. So when you go to throw your coat on your roommate’s bed or plug your phone in their outlet, just think to yourself, “wait, I have my OWN bed AND my OWN outlet!” The last thing your exhausted roommate wants to see is your belongings on their side of the room when all they want to do is take a nap after their 8 am chemistry lecture.  Fortunately I have my own room, but if I were a victim of this situation, I would kindly approach my roommate and explain the situation.
  • Cleanliness– When somebody walks into your house, the bottom of their shoes should not be sticking to the ground. I cannot stress enough how important it is to keep your residence clean. I’m not saying to remain necessarily neat, but remaining clean is important. Washing dishes in a timely matter prevents grudge and grime from building up, which may lead to having difficulty when trying to get your dishes spotless for your Sunday dinner. If you are experiencing that you and your roommate are on different terms with cleanliness, maybe suggest a cleaning schedule that can be split up evenly between you and everybody in your household. For example, somebody is assigned to taking care of the trash while somebody else is responsible for wiping down the bathroom. That way, everybody takes part in cleaning up. And besides, no one likes a messy kitchen.
  • Communication– Communication plays an important role in our everyday lives. When involving roommates, communication comes in handy when trying to figure out who is bringing which items for the apartment they moved into. At the start of this semester, I had the pleasure of witnessing a very awkward argument between two female roommates at a local department store. The two roommates were arguing about why one had to pay more than the other one. It was obvious that the two roommates had not communicated with each other over who was purchasing what for their household.
  • Common Courtesy–  Even though it is not your responsibility to know your roommate’s schedule, it is much appreciated when you respect the time that they need to get ready for school, work, practice or whatever the case may be. For example, if you are aware that your roommate has class within an hour or so, and they still need to get ready, politely ask them if you can jump in the shower or use the bathroom first. If they say yes, then proceed. If not, then you will just have to wait an extra few minutes. If it turns out your schedule conflicts, try staggering your getting ready time by five to ten minutes. With having the same schedule, my roommate Laney and I work around each other every morning. While she’s washing up I eat breakfast and vice versa.

As I mentioned before, these key notes are based off of my own opinion and experiences. I am in no way telling you how to handle certain situations, just suggesting different approaches on how to handle them. Hopefully, you feel more comfortable and at ease when talking to your roommate about certain issues, if you have any, and can continue to live together happily ever after. Or just for the rest of this semester, your choice!

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