One of the first people you come in contact with at college is your roommate. typically a stranger who filled out a brief questionnaire that only somewhat lined up with your own version of the same vague form. And likely, you know precious little about him or her. Hopefully, you want to change that and get to know your roommate a little better. Note: This is a good idea if you want the relationship in the room to be comfortable and to avoid conflicts! Here are a few suggestions on how to get to know him or her better to kick off a positive relationship:
Facebook (or other social media).
Many people are taking advantage of Facebook and other social media sites to connect. This is particularly helpful before you both move into your residence hall or college apartment. You can begin communicating before you even have the chance to meet face to face, which can be helpful in determining who’s bringing the microwave or television. It’s also helpful in getting a snapshot of the other person and sending some simple communications back and forth. Just keep in mind, they’re profile is not the full picture and you shouldn’t consider a Facebook communication to be entirely representative of them as people. First impressions are important, but being open to a second impression is even more so.
Use Ice Breakers
Sure, they’re infamously used in Orientation and by the Resident Assistants. But they’re used for a reason! They really do break the ice. So join your floor when the RA proposes ice breakers and community builders. Or do similar activities in the room. There’s nothing wrong with listing favorites or having true confessions of what you have never done but always wanted to try. The more surprising, the better conversation that stems from it.
Talk to each other!
This should be obvious. But sometimes it isn’t. So, make sure you’re opening the door for communication. Discuss the layout of your shared living space. Talk about little things like favorite colors or patterns in their linens. Share jokes, concerns about starting new courses, or recent anecdotes to your life. The more you share, the more likely that your roommate will share in return.
If simply striking up conversation is difficult for you, use another venue and activity to help fill in the awkward pauses. Check out the activities happening on campus- movies, programs, dances, workouts, or simply eating a meal together can really help bridge the awkward moments.
Many universities use a roommate agreement to help students talk to each other about their living preferences. You can learn a lot about a person in discussing simple things like sleeping patterns. Furthermore, you can avoid difficult conversations or arguments later on by working out some of these potentially problematic points of discussion early.
Communication really is the key to all of these suggestions. Without openly engaging in communication with your roommate, it’s not very likely that you’ll get to know each other particularly well. Take advantage of the fact that you live in close proximity and strike up some simple conversations. Building up that rapport will certainly improve your experience throughout the semester, which is the goal, after all.