Oh my God, they were roommates!

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For most first years, moving away from home means moving into a new place with new people. Depending on the type of residence you’re placed in, you might have a no roommates. You might have four. Regardless of how many strangers you’ll be sharing your space with, how you get along with people can be the biggest driving force behind your year. It definitely was for me, anyway.

In the July leading up to move-in day, I was absolutely ecstatic to find out where I would be living – but more importantly, who with. When I got in touch with my soon-to-be roommates, we started a group chat instantly. Within days we had made a Google doc to decide who was bringing what, constantly talking about how excited we were to meet each other.

Before I knew it, move-in day had arrived, and as soon as I got into my apartment, it was hugs all around. I was under the impression that my roommates and I were going to be great friends. Regrettably, O-week was a rude awakening to residence life for me.

Despite me trying my hardest to be friendly, neat, polite and fun, I was getting cropped out of group photos before they got posted, and given dirty looks when I left my bedroom to join their socials with floormates. As a people-pleaser, the situation had my inner monologue running non-stop. Why don’t they like me? Did I say something offensive? Am I messy? Am I loud?

Nobody is a perfect roommate, and as an 18-year-old, I was far from that; but it took me a good few months to realize that I was not the source of every problem. Even if you’re the most easy-going person in the world, living with other people is going to be hard at some point.

But by the time winter exams had rolled around, I had already felt like I wasn’t welcome to spend my time in the common areas of our apartment. Being barricaded in my room overnight with the living room for my roommates’ humour furniture was infuriating. Getting laughed at when asking them to take their Tuesday night karaoke somewhere other than outside my bedroom door at 3 a.m. wasn’t fun either.

Thankfully, when it got bad, I had the sense to stay out of the apartment as much as possible. Laurier has a lot of great spaces that are great to utilize in these kinds of situations,

For months, I had tried to voice my concerns to my roommates directly, and in person. It didn’t work. So I listened to exactly what the residence department instilled in all of us during O-week: talk to your don. When I was told all that could be done was a sit-down meeting and the writing of a roommate agreement, I knew I was S.O.L. Sitting in a circle and promising to take the garbage out more frequently could never clear the pettiness from the air.

Thankfully, when it got bad, I had the sense to stay out of the apartment as much as possible. Laurier has a lot of great spaces that are great to utilize in these kinds of situations, which I took full advantage of. I was still able to see my friends, get my course work done, and live my life as best as I could.

I have a lot of people to thank for helping me overcome the stresses of my living situation: my loyal friends, for sure, and definitely my mom. Having people to call and stay overnight with when things got unbearable really got me through.

Looking back on it now, the best part about living in residence was learning how to deal with these kinds of cliquey conflicts. After all, University is supposed to teach you these things; so albeit hard, I’m glad I learned them early rather than late.

That being said, here are some words of advice to you, as new Golden Hawks, as you navigate your way through residence:

  1. There is a difference between being civil and being friends. If you don’t want to be friends, the least you can do is be civil.
  2. If you don’t want to share, don’t. Keeping your own dishes and cleaning supplies in a separate cupboard is an easy way to minimize conflict.
  3. Be courteous about noise and mess. Courteous doesn’t mean perfect, but basic manners are standard. No exceptions.
  4. Keep busy. Joining clubs and associations is a great way to meet new people in case your roommates don’t end up being your best friends. Friends in different residences are also great (and fun) escape routes from conflict.
  5. Learn to take the high road – and do it on your own. Standing up for yourself and going with your gut is a lot easier in the long run than reporting it to a don.

Now, I know that not everyone’s experiences were like this. Chances are yours won’t be either. If it is, you’ll definitely overcome it. I did, and I grew from it! First year flies by so fast, and if it doesn’t go as planned, you have three more years to make it up. There are opportunities to make friends at every corner, and there are plenty more of those outside residence walls.

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