When you step into your college dorm room for the first time, there’s no saying what kind of roommate you’ll get. Hopefully, you’ll get lucky and find an immediate connection and, before you know it, become instant friends. More often, though, that isn’t the case. It can be hard to live with a complete stranger, let alone become friends. You may feel like you are two completely different people, and it may seem impossible to imagine that the two of you could become friends. There are some ways to overcome roommate differences. Having completely opposite personalities doesn’t mean that you can’t become good friends or, at the very least, live together in harmony. Here are three ways to try to build a friendship with your roommate, even if you are very, very different people.
Making the most of common interests
Chances are you’re getting a degree in visual merchandising while your roommate is studying to be a nurse, or maybe you’re getting an engineering degree and your roommate is getting a degree in history. At first glance, you may feel like you have absolutely nothing in common. However, don’t be afraid to get creative when trying to find something unique to you both. Odds are you’ll discover a shared Netflix show, or you’ll find out that you both love hiking. Just because your majors are different doesn’t mean that every aspect of your life is also going to be different.
As you begin your college semester, try to find something to do together, even if it’s just lunch. Everyone needs to eat, so bonding over a shared meal can help jump-start a conversation so that you can find those moments of, “oh, you like that, too?” You could also look into joining an intramural sports team together or finding a club that you’ll both like. A friendship that’s built on shared experiences will always be stronger than one that relies on polite conversation, so go out of your way to build some memories as roommates.
Dealing with different personality types
When I was in college, my roommate and I took a personality test almost immediately. This gave us an opportunity to address possible issues before they actually became a problem. Many roommate fights tend to revolve around the problem of one introverted friend and one extroverted friend. Introverts can easily become overwhelmed and overstimulated from the extra stress of college, and the added pressure of living with someone else can push them over the edge.
It’s important to talk about personal space and make sure you each have some time to be alone. It’s also important to compare schedules and discuss wake up times and quiet hour expectations. You don’t need to share the same schedule, but you do need to be aware of each other’s needs and wants. A strong friendship involves a little bit of give and take, so you need to be willing to consider your roommate’s desires when you’re coming home at 2 am or getting ready for class before sunrise.
Making mutual friends
Finally, in order to maintain a lasting friendship with your roommate, you should try to find mutual friends. If you and your roommate can become part of a group, you’ll have access to more activities and events. You’ll also find yourself with a diverse group of friends to offer unique perspectives to your friendship. Plus, in case of a problem, it’s helpful to have an unbiased third party who can help diffuse the tension.
College can be an incredibly tough experience, but it’s also a great time of growth and learning. Having a good roommate can make a big difference, and you’ll be able to experience college more fully if you aren’t worrying about how to live with a stranger. Though the thought of initiating a friendship with your roommate can be daunting, you need to take that first step toward getting to know the person you’ll be living with. You may find that this person becomes one of your best friends, despite having opposite personalities and interests.
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