While at hostel or University hall, living with anyone, even your high school best friend, is bound to have some road bumps along the way. Whether it’s the dirty dishes in the sink, the boyfriend who always sleeps over, making you climb trees whenever one of the many ‘chanas’ shows up or the loud stumbling back in after a boozage. Disagreements will happen between you guys, whether you like it or not. Yet in many cases, the issue isn’t necessarily the problem itself, but rather the way that you and your roommate handle it. A minor disagreement can easily turn into a screaming, full-blown argument or even a social-media war. Before you know it, your roommate wants to move out as soon as sem ends and you’re left wondering how you went from roomies to avoiding eye contact whenever you pass each other on campus.
Before you get a roommate, you need to know how to effectively manage and work through conflicts, or else you’re in for one roller-coaster of a semester. It takes patience, compromise, consideration and above all else, open communication. Do not be passive aggressive. A lot of people will text their roommate and say they have an issue, but then when they see face-to-face they won’t say anything. Confrontation may scare the heck out of you, but you can’t avoid it your whole life. When you’ve gone two weeks without sleep because your roommate thinks it’s a good idea to keep on the insanely bright light in the room to study until 2 a.m. every night, you’ll know what I mean. Not everyone understands common roommate etiquette and eventually confrontation will become the only way out of misery.
People shy away from confrontation, but it doesn’t always have to be negative or doesn’t always have to be yelling back and forth. Confronting your roommate might feel extremely awkward and uncomfortable, but you need to at least try. It can simply be voicing what your thoughts are and what you would like to see.
Once you build up the courage to talk to your roommate, make sure you do it in person. Texting in itself can cause miscommunication and unintentional bad feelings. It’s best to approach them at a convenient time, when you’re both not busy in the dorm. You don’t want to bring up any issues when your roommate has “ebony” over in the room. Stay calm and be polite. Try to avoid blaming or accusing your roommate of anything, even if you know the issue is his or her fault. Use sentences starting with, “I feel like,” because that way you clarify that it’s how you feel, and you’re not assuming how your roommate feels.
Brenda, a 3rd year student at Kansanga based KIU narrates, “After the Christmas holiday, it turned out that my roommate had got a boyfriend. As happy as I was for her, it was as if I now had a third roommate. They were ALWAYS in the room and it felt as if they never left–even to get air! After a few weeks of feeling as if I had all of a sudden been moved into a triple room, I got the courage to confront my roommate and ask if it would be okay if they went to her boyfriend’s room every once in a while. I think this was a polite and calm way to handle the situation (as opposed to me locking them out forever–which is what I really wanted to do). She of course said yes and we quickly changed the subject…I realized that you really do need to set boundaries with your roommate. As uncomfortable as it might be, confronting the situation and setting out rules will really be extremely helpful in the long run.”
All in all you can’t escape the truth: Roommate life comes with struggles. Using these strategies can help you get through the rough patches and, at the very least, end the year on good terms.