Leaving your old digs for the university life is both exciting and, well… terrifying! Not only will you be tasked with intense academic pursuits, you’ll also have to adjust to a new living arrangement. And for most students, that means getting to know new roommates or flatmates. Whether or not you were fortunate enough to have chosen your own roommates (often not the case with university-assigned housing situations), you will still want to get to know your new roomies and establish a positive relationship right off the bat.
The best place to begin is usually at the beginning. So let’s start there, with this list of tips for getting to know your new roommates!
- Break the ice in advance.
Reaching out before you are in the same room or flat together will make for a much more pleasant experience. With modern communication outlets, it’s easier than ever to get in touch. Use social media or email to your advantage and drop your new roomies a line to share a bit about yourself and show an interest in getting to know them. If you are in the same area, you may even be able to get together for a coffee date ahead of time. This will make things less awkward for everyone further down the line.
- Be yourself!
This is the surest way for getting your relationship off to a good start. If you begin by trying to sound like someone you’re not – be it because you want to appear more interesting, more exciting or affluent or any other number of traits, you will end up making both yourself and your roommates miserable. No one can keep up a dishonest front forever and you are going to find yourself exhausted. Give your roommates the chance to know the real you.
- Ask Questions!
Yes, you’ll want to tell your roommate all about yourself. Slow down and make sure you are also showing a genuine interest in the other person. It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of the moment and talk nonstop. Before you know it, your roommate will have moved on to unpacking boxes and tuning you out. Ask your new roommate questions about his or her life and show a genuine interest in the answers. Try to find common interests that you share. You might notice something like a movie or music poster and strike up a conversation about that topic, for example. Even if you have very different hobbies and views, you are almost certain to share at least one interest – which gives you common ground to base a friendship on.
- Take it easy.
While there is certainly no need to “keep up appearances” it’s also a good idea to take your roommate introduction slowly. Overloading your new roommate with your life story and your deepest, darkest secrets, desires or fears within the first five minutes of meeting will make for a very awkward time for all involved. There will be plenty of time to talk more about deep subjects later, if that type of friendship develops. In the beginning, it’s good to keep things light and friendly.
- Talk about expectations.
This can be a tough one but it’s very important if everyone in your living situation is going to feel heard and valued. Ask your roommate if you can find time to sit down and talk about both of your expectations for being flatmates. Each person comes to a new environment with certain expectations about what it will be like to live with another person. Establishing basic ground rules will decrease the number of uncomfortable conversations that you will have further down the line.
- Last, but not least, relax!
You and your new flatmates will inevitably see each other at both your best and worst. Whether or not you end up with a BFF out of the deal, you’ll benefit from the experience of meeting and living with someone with a different point of view from yours.
Remember that everyone feels a bit nervous in new situations. A little kindness and the desire to get along is really all that is needed to get you off on the right foot with your new flatmates.