Living with Other Students

Life in the residence halls will probably be very different from your home life in various ways. This guide is intended to assist you in thinking through some of these changes and making the transition as smoothly as possible. As always, if you are experiencing a difficulty please do not hesitate to ask someone for assistance. Start with your Community Adviser and/ or your Resident Director, and feel free to contact the ISA as any time as well.

Simply sharing a room with someone you do not know can be a challenging experience. Sharing a room with someone who is culturally very different from you will most definitely be a challenging and sometimes difficult experience.

At the beginning of the year you will be asked to complete a contract with your roommate/s, agreeing on things such as when lights will be turned off, who will do the cleaning, how often guests may come into the room, whether you will share clothes, etc. Below is some advice that may assist in the process of living with a stranger:

Learn to talk about things as soon as they are an issue:

If you are offended by your roommates behavior, you must be able to talk with him/her about it. Numerous students from Asian cultures have talked about how offensive it is for them when their roommate walks around the room in shoe, but in U.S. families shoes are always worn; it is highly unlikely that a U.S. roommate his or her behavior is offensive, and why, it is likely that you will be able to reach an agreement that is suitable to you both.

Be open to hearing suggestions/comments from your roommate:

Just as it is likely that your roommate may do things that offend you, it is equally likely that you will do things that offend him/her. Be open to hearing suggestions and comments from your roommate about those things that s/he finds offensive, just as you would like them to be open to you.


If there are issues about which you and your roommate disagree, be open to compromising. Living with someone else means that you will not be able to have everything exactly as you would prefer; similarly, your roommate will not be able to have everything exactly as s/he prefers. If you are willing to compromise with each other, you will find that many issues can be worked through to you mutual satisfaction.

Be willing to laugh:

We have a saying in the U.S.: “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” That means, if you can laugh about the things that won't matter 10 years from now, you will be much happier and you and your roommate will be able to work through most anything.

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