The warm breeze, the ocean views, the scent of salt water as it mixes with the morning fog… Ahhh yes, summer in Santa Barbara.
Don’t let moving in with your new roommates become a cold, unwelcome splash in the face!
Whether you are moving into a university residence hall, a university apartment, or a private rental in Isla Vista, we at Community Housing Office (CHO) would like to offer some great tips about how to get along with roommates to allow for good, working relations for the rest of the school year:
Get things started off on the right foot! Be open, friendly, warm and courteous to new people, even if you have your differences or get a bad first impression.
Discuss rules and expectations with each other before you need them (during what we call the “Honeymoon Phase”). Topics may include: cleanliness, noise, guests, sharing food and other household items, or alcohol and drug use. Talk about the tough stuff when you are on good terms, rather than when you are heated, upset and frustrated.
Periodically check in with your roommates (monthly? quarterly?) to see how things are going. Let this be a time when you revisit your rules and expectations, as well as a time when you are able to share some of the good times you’ve had! Having a good laugh over a “remember when …” moment can help lighten the mood and ease some of the awkwardness of talking about how your roommate-ship is going.
Make time for each other — say hello, and generally be cordial and respectful — but realize that you don’t necessarily have to be BFFs with your roommate. Planning to live with your best friend? First recognize that living with someone is VERY different than hanging out 24/7. Don’t let things slide that you would typically discuss with a roommate or otherwise become complacent because you don’t want to hurt your friend’s feelings.
CHO often sees friendships suffer because of poor roommate-ships due to a lack of communication about small household things.
Avoid the temptation to communicate with your roommate(s) by any means other than talking face-to-face (text messages, Facebook posts, sticky notes, whiteboard scribbles). The benefits of sharing your feelings face-to-face far outweigh the ease of texting a message that could be taken the wrong way.
Seek help if your roommate communication is really suffering and the earlier the better, before irreparable damage to your roommate-ship transpires. I don’t mean finding the nearest friend with whom to gossip about all the terrible things your roommate has done (while carefully leaving out your mistakes!), reeling in silence or posting Facebook status updates to rant and rave in a not-so-anonymous fashion. Rather than share your woes with anyone who will listen and take your side, suffer in silence or take the passive aggressive social media approach, come to CHO to discuss conflict resolution methods, including our free mediation program. Don’t hate; mediate! You can email us at email@example.com.
Poor roommate relations can cause GPAs to drop and have been listed as one of the top five reasons that students drop out of college. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. Conflict can be scary, awkward, uncomfortable and hurtful, but learning to deal with conflict in college is just another part of a well-rounded education. Conflict with others will show up later in your workplace, your neighborhood and your family, so learning some skills now is great preparation for your future.
CHO — located on the third floor of the UCen — is your one-stop-shop for all off-campus housing needs, including roommate mediation and landlord/tenant advice. Stop by for some fresh popcorn and advice about getting along with your ‘mates (and landlord)!
Okay, now back to that salty air and sand between my toes …
Maya Salmon is a Program Coordinator for UCSB’s Community Housing Office.