How to Cope With Your Challenging New College Roommate

on September 4, 2013

Once, I had a college roommate I instantly disliked. To be fair, she disliked me instantly, too! For several weeks, we struggled to be nice, to co-exist, but we were just two very different people and we just couldn’t live in the same room. Eventually, seeing the futility of keeping-on, I requested a room reassignment. I was happy, she was happy, and all was forgotten.

It’s a fact that we can’t always be surrounded just by the people we love and get along with. Often the people we come in contact with, at school, work, or in a college dormitory, are people that are just very different from us. It’s a big world, and there are as many kinds of people as there are flowers in the gardens of Versailles.

If your new roommate is somehow a challenge, if you’re finding it difficult to get along, maybe these suggestions will be helpful.

Be Open to Solutions

Does your new roommate stay up too late studying? Does the light from her desk lamp keep you awake? Be open to a solution, and be creative! Is it possible a blindfold might help? Can you arrange for her to study in the common area after 10pm? Be creative, and be flexible!

Your willingness to find a solution is often the first step in overcoming an obstacle.

Accommodate Her

College dormitories are mixing-pots. Students come from all over, from far and wide. While this is a good thing in many ways, there’s always bound to be some cultural friction between people of different places and traditions. Even students from different regions of the same state might find themselves stuck in the mud of these cultural misunderstandings.

So accommodate your new roommate. Show some interest in her life and in her home. Does she cook or eat exotic foods or meals? Try them – you might like them! Is English not her mother tongue? Are you up for learning some new words in a new language? This is a great way to build a friendship and defuse tension. Take it from a former expatriate, nothing is more flattering than having someone be so interested in talking to you that they’ve gone to the trouble of speaking your mother tongue. It’s a great way to make a new friend.

When All Else Fails

When all else fails, move. Sometimes, there’s just nothing else to do. If you just can’t get along, if there’s just no way to make it work, perhaps the best thing to do is to move.

Of course, it’s not as easy as it sounds. You can’t just pick up and go. Moving out should be your very last resort. If you must go, you should start with a visit to the campus housing office.

We can’t always control the people who come into our lives, and we won’t always get along with everyone. College roommates are no exception. You may find yourself with a mismatch, and if you do? Be creative! Be open to solutions! With an open heart and mind, you might just turn that mismatched roommate into a friend for life.


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