The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Roommates

One of the greatest parts of attending boarding school is living with a roommate from another country. Each roommate pair at SMUS is specially selected based on interests, language, country of origin and temperament. In addition to those characteristics, here are seven things to remember that help make an awesome roommate.

1. Be clear from the beginning

Talk to your roommate about personal preferences. Are you an early riser? Does your roommate take a shower just before bed? Do you need it to be 40 degrees in the room all the time? Finding out how your new roomie operates will go a long way to making the first few weeks smoother.

2. Address things when they are little

So you’ve noticed that your roommate unconsciously taps their pen constantly while doing their homework. This may drive you crazy eventually, but it’s not all that serious. If you don’t think you’ll be able to live with it, talk to him or her while the problem is small. If issues are left unsaid they could grow exponentially.

3. Respect their stuff

Perhaps it doesn’t seem that important to ask your roommate if you can wear their Gap turtleneck. You know nothing will happen to it and besides, you’ll wash it or buy a new one if something does happen. What you might not know is that her Great Aunt Mabel (God rest her soul) gave it to your roommate as a parting gift and it can’t be replaced when it accidentally gets torn playing soccer. This is not a great situation and could cause a fracture in the relationship.

4. Be careful about guests

Your friends are awesome. They play Minecraft, can list the relative attributes of 1970s Russian cinema and have impeccable hygiene. However, your roommate may not want people around all the time. Perhaps they can’t stand Andrei Tarkovsky or maybe they are sensitive to perfume. A balance of time in and out of your room with your friends will offer your roommate their own space — a very important thing.

5. Friendly, but likely not best friends

We’ve all heard the Best Man wedding speech, right? “Jimmy was the first guy I met when I moved onto campus and we’ve been inseparable since. I introduced him to his bride, will deliver his children and we’ve bought burial plots next to one another…” That may well happen with your roommate but having that expectation may put some pressure on the relationship. Give it some time. Maybe your future Best Man isn’t the guy you met a week ago.

6. Be open to new things

Have you ever tried kimchi? What about birding? Have you played field hockey? If not, give it a try! This is your opportunity to learn new things and be the person you want to be. It is a chance to mold your values and decide what is and isn’t important to you. It’s difficult to learn those things if you don’t try anything new and getting involved in the activities around campus will broaden your experience and make you more open to the cultural differences you may have with your roommate.

7. Seek advice

There are people all around you with different life experiences, values and wisdom. Talk to them. For example, your houseparents are trained to listen, ask you questions and help you find the answers to issues you face. If you’re having issues with your roommate, don’t fume about them. Ask for help with the aim to solve the problem and solidify your roommate relationship.

There is no silver bullet when it comes to relationships, especially when you’re living with someone you don’t know all that well. If you follow these tips you will likely have an easier time all around and learn to negotiate the ups and downs of life and living in boarding.

Do you agree with these tips? Do you have some “rules” to being an awesome roommate? Tell us about it in the comments section below.


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