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Learning to get along

There have always been variations of the “roommate” story. “My roommate and her boyfriend were making a lot of noise while I was trying to sleep last night,” and/or variations of “One of my roommate’s friends threw up in the bathroom last night.”

I remember spending boring class periods in high school worrying over who my roommate would be and if I would get along with her. Teachers would tell us their stories from college, striking fear in the hearts of future college freshmen and on-campus residents. I was terrified.

According to the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International (ACUHO-I), about 2.5 million students call their college campus home every year. Here at USF, an estimated 4,100 students live on campus, 64 percent of those students being freshmen.

Once I found out my roommate’s information, I gave her a phone call one summer day. She was not home, however. I figured, “OK, I gave it a shot; I guess I will meet her in August.” A few weeks later, instead of calling her, I wrote her a letter (old fashioned, I know). In the letter, I included my screen name and we ended up talking online all summer.

On move-in day, I met my roommate and suitemates for the very first time. For the first few weeks of residence hall life, we all had our guards up. We would always ask to do something to make sure we did not make anyone mad or do anything wrong. After almost three months of living together, we have all adapted pretty well to the habits of others.

I am happy to say that nothing too bad has happened so far. No one has walked in on anyone changing, getting out of the shower or anything else that may or may not go on in a residence hall. I went from being scared of my roommates to confiding in them when I have a problem.

Making the adjustment, though, has not been easy. At home, I had my own bedroom, bathroom and closet. In Cypress Hall, I have my own bed and desk, but share everything else with my roommate. She and my suitemates are all only daughters in their families, so none of us have ever had to share our personal spaces before.

The first few weeks, we tolerated the bad habits we all brought with us. After about a month, those bad habits were no longer overlooked. The smallest things were brought to our attention, at times even causing disagreements. Fortunately, we have not had a problem that we cannot solve on our own.

Sleeping in the same room with someone night after night was something new to all of us at the beginning of the semester. I came to find out that I snore on occasion, while I told two of my roommates that they talk in their sleep. As long as no one is a sleepwalker or has the urge to murder in the night, I think we are safe.

The roommate contract that is filled out at the beginning of the semester is a joke in my room. For example, we made a rule of not having visitors after 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday nights. Do we follow that? Not for the most part. Do we care? Not really. As long as everyone is at least quiet after 11, everyone is happy.

Getting to know everyone on your floor is a great idea as well. Even being friendly with your Resident Assistant (RA) is something to consider. More likely than not, you will be living in your room all year, so why not get to know your neighbors?

The best thing roommates can do is to communicate with one another. If one roommate is bothered about something, that roommate should go to the other and talk about it. Not resolving it is just going to cause more problems, and the resentment will build. It’s better to get the conversation over with than to blow up one day and say something you will regret. Getting a room change after a small argument will not help things either.

Communication is key.

Olivia Hattan is a freshman majoring in mass communications.