So you’ve found your dorm roommate. Now what?
So here is a story about finding a dorm roommate. Whether or not you chose a roommate or were assigned one, you’re now stuck living with somebody for the next few months of your life. Obviously, you want that to be as good of an experience as possible for the both of you.
It’s best to get a start on building a strong bond well before you guys start living together. No matter what, it will be awkward at first, but you can do your best to eliminate at least some of it beforehand. If you already know the person you’re going to be living with, a lot of this you won’t have to worry about, but for those of us who are starting fresh, it’s best to have something to start with.
To begin, do you have any way to contact him or her? Did your school provide you with an e-mail address, a phone number, or a physical address? How about a name at least? If you don’t have any of these, then I hate to say it but you’re screwed.
Luckily I don’t know of any schools that don’t at least give you some information on the other person, so that’s good.
If you have an e-mail address, go ahead and send them an e-mail. Say hello, introduce yourself. Ask if they have any other way to contact you — Instant messaging and/or social networks are great. If they have Facebook/etc, it’s a good way to start getting to know each other better.
If you don’t have whatever service(s) they use, go ahead and make it, even if you only use it for that one person. Be the one who takes the extra step.
If they are on a social networking website, take some time to look at his/her profile. What does he/she seem like? Friendly? Reserved? What about interests? Do you two have anything in common at all?
This might feel a bit like you’re snooping, but it’s a surprisingly great way to get a feel for what a person is like without ever meeting them. If you made an account somewhere just for the person, take some time to fill it out. If you’re finding out all about them, shouldn’t they do have the same privilege with you?
Keep in contact. Instant messaging is a great way to start conversations initially because of the lack of pressure. If you’re a shy person, there’s not nearly as much awkwardness online as there is in person, and you can use that to start being friendly right off the bat.
If you notice he or she is online, say hello. Find a common interest you two have and start talking about it. That’s a lot less weird than simply asking, “So what are you into?”
Hope that the other person uses the Internet. If not, this becomes a lot harder. Write a letter or call him/her. That’s otherwise about the best you can do.
If you two live somewhat near each other, perhaps it would be good to hang out once in person. I’m not too sure if I would recommend this, but if you two are talking a lot and seem to get along great, I don’t see why not. Meet halfway and get some food or something. Don’t plan to spend the day together, just plan to spend enough time to meet each other for the first time. If you really hit it off, then, by all means, do otherwise.
Make sure you’re willing to take the first step. Don’t expect that the other person is going to initiate anything. Don’t be afraid to say hello every now and then or show him/her a thing or two about yourself. However be careful, you don’t want to come across as being annoying just for trying to start a friendship. Give your future roommate some space as well!
Once you guys are on at least semi-decent terms, it’s time to start talking about what it will be like when you’re sharing a small cramped dorm. Talk about things you intend to bring and would like to bring.
Most schools give you a checklist of what to (and not to) bring to your dorm, but there are always other things you’ll want. Talking to your roommate might bring up items you never even thought to bring.
You two also might have been wanting to bring two of the same things — maybe both of you were bringing a TV or a microwave. In such cases, you can decide who will bring what and plan to share to save room and hassle.
Try to split such things evenly as possible — one person shouldn’t be providing way more than the other. That could lead to drama down the road that you don’t want. For a nice list of things you might want to (or not want to) share, check out my college dorm checklist.
As it gets closer to move-in time, try to keep more and more in contact to be ready for it. Living with someone is a lot less of a shock when you’ve prepared for it.
Any other tips that have helped the transition go smoothly?