Pilot Guest Opinion

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Attention college freshmen - don't sleep away night 1

Every incoming college freshman has had nightmares about it - you arrive at your dorm room on move-in day, open the door, and come face-to-face with a person you wouldn't want to be within fifty feet of, much less share a room with.

Luckily, most roommate meetings conclude in far less tragedy, but are just as nerve-wracking. There is something about meeting the person that is supposed to be your new best friend that gives everyone butterflies. But there are ways to make the whole process go smoothly.

First, try to do the extremely important first meet-and-greet with your roommate outside of your new home, a.k.a. dorm room. Meeting at a restaurant, park, or mall halfway between both of your homes gives the two of you something to talk about, and a more enjoyable situation. Meeting before the first day of school also takes a lot of stress away from an already crazy day.

Bringing friends or parents along with you when you meet a new roommate can also help. They give you someone to fall back on if the conversation dies out, as well as a level of comfort. But remember - parents tend to tell embarrassing stories.

Before you move in, you should also agree on who is bringing what when school starts. Things like refrigerators, microwaves, stereos, TV's, VCR and DVD players, carpet, and couches or futons can be split between the two of you. Not only do they take a lot of room on the moving truck, but can be expensive (This conversation also gives you something to talk about when you first meet!).

So after you get to your room, get all moved in, and your parents are on their way back home, then what? It's time to meet even more people!

My advice is that, no matter how early you had to get up to drive to college or how sore your legs are from carrying boxes up stairs, don't go to sleep! There is only one first night at college, so make the most of it. I have heard many students say that the people they met that first night were their best friends all four years of school.

After a few weeks of going to class, reading 200 pages of text every night (I don't mean to scare you, but it happens), and forming new friendships, what if you and your roommate still aren't clicking? Perhaps the best advice I ever received was this: your roommate doesn't have to be your best friend, just someone you can live with.

Actually, it is probably better that a roommate not be your best friend. Living with a person can eventually get on your nerves (a key reason why high school friends don't always make the best roommates), so why ruin a great friendship over little things like someone eating ALL of your Easy Mac, or watching television until 3:00 a.m.

The best advice for roommates who are trying not to let the little things get to them is to be involved and don't make a habit out of being in your room constantly. Make new friends, join a club, go to the gym - just get out of your room for a couple hours every day. Not being with your roommate constantly will make you appreciate more the time that you do spend with them.

In the worst situation - if your roommate is really horrible, there are always other options for campus housing. Go see the residence hall director and apply for a new room/roommate. Most colleges make you stick it out for awhile (Buena Vista University requires you to live with someone for two weeks before moving), but are flexible about moving you to a different room. If the students aren't happy where they are at, they may transfer to another school, and that equals less money and fewer students for your college.

Most importantly, roommate situations are a give-and-take relationship. Talking things over with your roommate is key, so don't be shy when something is rubbing you the wrong way. College is the most fun and exciting part of life, so don't go through your four years unhappy.

* Amy Best is a BVU student journalist and a summer 2004 intern with the Pilot-Tribune.