Dealing with inevitably imperfect roommates

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Another school year is upon us which means that a lot of changes are happening. With first-years moving into dorms and upper-years finding off-campus housing, anticipation is flowing.

Moving into a new house or apartment can be a really exciting thing; you can finally get some freedom from your siblings taking over the bathroom, and your parents won’t make you do the dishes. It sounds like the perfect college party movie and its bound to be a great adventure—that is, until you move in.

All of a sudden you’re living with fellow students who you know will be the best roomies and who you’re sure will do their part to keep the place clean, but frankly this idea is close to a Disney fairytale.

The dishes will pile up, the garbage will stink and muddy winter boots will eventually coat the floors.

It’s easy for ordinary people to make excuses as to why their lack of time prevents them from cleaning, but for students, the excuses are like clockwork.

Chances are, we have all experienced roommate issues, but if by some magical gamble you’ve never had a problem, then we envy you. It’ll happen soon enough.

At some point, arguments will be had and friendships will be jeopardized, but there are endless ways to get through it.

Setting a foundation right from the get-go will make sure everyone knows that they each have an important role as a roommate.

Deciding who gets the biggest room may seem like the hardest issue you’ll have, but rock paper scissors is binding. Making a chore calendar can go a long way and when the lazy roommate insists its not their turn to take out the garbage, just point to the sheet on the fridge.

Schoolwork and tests can be a huge issue when it comes to roommates because noise is often an issue. If you happen to have a Monday morning test and your roommate decides to have a pre-Phil’s Sunday extravaganza, conflict can surely rise. To avoid this issue, it’s best to either let your roommates know about your upcoming test so they can relocate the party, or plan ahead to study at the library and avoid any possible conflict.

Food can be a sensitive topic when it comes to students; it’s a scarce commodity at times and it shouldn’t be taken for granted — or, well, taken. Sometimes roommates will have issues with taking each other’s food, or borrowing a little bit of something without asking. Sure, a little bit of milk can go unnoticed, but if you run out before you can have any, its time to speak up.

Labeling your personal food items and pitching in on shareable items is a great way to keep all the roomies satisfied.

Roommate life can be a challenging chapter in anyone’s journey, but its completely manageable to work through. I mean, you can’t really yell at your roommate to wash their dishes like you may do with siblings, but a simple reminder to clean up after oneself is harmless.

If you think you’re alone when it comes to roommate troubles, ask the person beside you in your next lecture and you’ll instantly be proven wrong.     

It is unaviodable that even the smallest conflicts will come up when living with other people, but as long as you play it cool and strategize to work through it, your university years will be that much better.


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Serving the Waterloo campus, The Cord seeks to provide students with relevant, up to date stories. We’re always interested in having more volunteer writers, photographers and graphic designers.