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Getting to Know Your Roommate

With rooming assignments coming out soon, it’s natural to be curious about who you’ll be sharing a room with during your first year at Cornell. Guest Blogger Ellie Burshtyn ’18, a PA, offers some insight and tips into getting to know your roommate to make you more comfortable with your roommate, res hall living, and transition to life at Cornell.

Some of you may have shared a room with someone before. However, there is probably one big difference: you most likely knew the person. Moving in with someone that you know nothing about can be stressful and result in a lot of anxiety, which is completely normal. So here are some suggestions on getting to know and getting along with your new roomie. Once you have gotten the email with the name of your roommate, open up a line of communication with them. Send an email, swap numbers and maybe shoot them a text. You will have gotten your first interaction over with when you are not stressing over setting up your room.

Once you have that line of communication open, keep it going. Ask each other ice breaker questions like: Do you know what you want to major in? Are there any clubs you want to join? These will give you some conversation ideas for when you meet.

Also don’t be afraid to ask those “elephant in the room” questions such as what their pet peeves are or if there is anything that makes them uncomfortable.  These types of questions have 3 benefits:
1) They help you get to know them.
2) They will help you know what to avoid doing and decreasing the likelihood of an argument. and
3) it shows them that you care about their wants and needs (after all it is their room too).

If you don’t want to ask those kinds of questions just yet that is totally fine–it can take some time to build up to those. Instead, you might want to try asking things along the line of: Do you plan on bringing a fridge?  These will help start building the bridge between you and will also let you know if there is something you need to or don’t need to bring. And if you are up to it, see if when things settle down if they want to go grab some coffee or eat together. It will provide an opportunity for you to talk and get to know them better. Getting to know your roommate takes a lot of communication, so when going through this try not to bombard each other with too many questions or worse too much information.

If you still want some more ideas for getting to know and getting along with your roommate there is a bunch of reading material out there that have great ideas.

The Freshman Survival Guide: Soulful Advice for Studying, Socializing, and Everything In Between by Nora Bradbury-Haehl and Bill McGarvey

The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College by Harlan Cohen

The College Dorm Survival Guide: How to Survive and Thrive in Your New Home Away from Home by Julia DeVillers

How to Survive Your Freshman Year: Fifth Editionby Hundreds of Heads

None of these are solely focused on roommates but there are chapters designated to roommates in each of these books. I found them very helpful with reducing anxiety about having a roommate and you get lots of great information and tips on a wide variety of things.

All the best and welcome to Cornell!

Roommate agreements are filled out by every pair of roommates shortly after move in which spell out agreed upon aspects of the room and guidelines for sharing space. Filling these out is a great way to get to know your roommate early on and to have individual standards both you and your roommate are accountable to. RAs are trained in mediation if any roommates necessitate a conference and revisit this roommate “contract”.

My biggest recommendation about getting to know your roommate is to not agonize over it and to remember that first impressions are not always the case. A roommate is not necessarily going to be your new best friend–they don’t need to be! and sometimes, it’s easier for them not to be. Roommates should respect each other and be conscious of sharing a living space throughout the year and establishing this relationship earlier on may relieve some stress. Keep in mind when contacting your roommate this summer that they are just as anxious as you are but may react differently: if you’re the type of person who wants to know everything about them right away, respect if they would prefer to only cover the basics–it’s good starting practice for compromise in your relationship! If you don’t have an immediate connection with your roommate, don’t despair; you’ll get to know each other throughout the year, but remember that you’ll be meeting a lot more people during NSO, on your floor, and throughout your Cornell experience. –Laura