It is likely that as you find yourself face to face with your new roommate after just having pushed your way through crowded halls, lugging boxes and suitcases up stairs, the last song you want to hear is “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins. Yet the look on your newest dorm buddy’s face seems to taunt you with ‘Gonna take you right into the danger zone.’ Well, now’s the time to grab your pit helmet, strap on your supplies and prepare to dig in deep…this siege can last for years. But don’t lose heart. You have in your possession a survival guide to make “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” look like a simpering compilation. Your bath towel may still prove necessary, but you can evaluate dcor later.
To survive any roommate, there are some key weapons you want in your arsenal.
A Happy Place. Whenever you find yourself in close confines, it becomes crucial to have a place that is your own to get away too. Whether a park, a bookstore, or coffee shop, designate a place that is yours and yours alone. Consider it your ‘regrouping point’ in case you are attacked or find yourself separated and needing to take a break. Keep this a ‘haven’. By allowing the location to remain undisclosed, you are guaranteed a repose from any frontal assault.
Ear Buds. Let’s face it. College students aren’t known for their silent study habits or peaceful lifestyle. Maybe you are unable to escape and regroup. Ear-buds and an Mp3 player will provide a mental haven where physically one cannot be found. Tuning out at times also allows your roommate the privacy that may be needed for phone conversations, not to mention the opportunity to veg out watching their favorite sitcom.
Sustenance, and a stash. Make sure your cupboards contain common food. Consider it bait or a decoy. By providing snacks that are allowed, a grazing roommate is less likely to tear into those items you truly want to keep exclusive. Remember, in war, the best offence is a good defense. Find out their favorite snacks, and every once in a while, restock and leave a friendly little note-‘hope you enjoy’. While your adversary is thus distracted, the stash of ramen you are unwilling to part with remain unobserved in the closet. When it comes to food, there is no need to search out what is already in their line of sight.
Contact with Base. Having a phone or prepaid calling card that allows you to call home can be a life saver. Rather than blowing up at your obtuse room-fellow, venting to Mom, who probably wants to hear from you any way, can prevent ugly and unnecessary altercations. Being away from home and feeling disconnected can make for an edgy existence when coupled with the pressures of class loads and roommates that rub the wrong way. If you feel so moved, it can also serve as an olive branch when a treaty must be established. Keep an eye out, maybe your live-in-foe would like to call home and is without the means. Even a hostile can be tempered with the right motivation.
Stock your trench. In battle, the worst thing is to be alone or with people you doubt will have your back. Work on developing good, strong friendships. If you need a little time away, most buddies will let you crash over, or at least provide a fun diversion for a few hours.
Lastly, remember that most foot soldiers are only doing what they have been programmed and trained to do. Seek to bridge the gap of differences that so often leads to senseless battle. Treating your roommate like a potential friend as opposed to an invading force may just turn the tides and provide you with an ally on the larger battle front.
Whether you are looking to survive college or just your roommate, a battle plan in hand will guide you where emotions and the heat of the moment can get you killed. Determine you will survive, and you will find that little skirmishes only serve to make you stronger.