I’m living with a stranger!


“I’m really nervous about living with someone I’ve never met before.  Any advice?”

RANDOM ROOMMATE ASSIGNMENT.  I love it so much; it fills my heart with joy thinking about all of the 18-year-olds in the country who are about to be thrown into a living space (smaller than the bedroom they grew up in) with a complete stranger for nine whole months.

It’s literally one of the best things on the planet.

Why? Because it’s so counter-cultural.  In a society where we are all about “me”, having it my way, and being as comfortable as possible, living with a random college roommate challenges all of those norms.  And I think that’s amazing.

First let me say, I’m really proud of you.  Even if you didn’t have any other option but to go random, I’m still proud of you.  I think you are awesome for signing up to live with someone you’ve never met before.  Go ahead, pat yourself on the back.  You deserve it.

I have lots of thoughts on how to live successfully with a random roommate, but I’ll stick to 5 for now.

1. Don’t judge her by her facebook page.

Seriously.  Don’t do it.  I used to work in housing and I would get calls from students (or their parents) saying “I can’t live with this person!” And I would ask, “You already know them?”  And they would say, “Oh no, we’ve never communicated but I saw blah blah blah on their facebook page, and I just can’t live with someone that blah blah blah.”  I know that sounds ridiculous but it happened ALL THE TIME.  So don’t do it.  If you want to scope her out via social media, fine.  But don’t judge.  You probably don’t want someone to judge you based on everything you post, tweet, insta or vine either.

2. Communicate with her this summer but don’t OVER communicate. 

Don’t try to become best friends over email and text.  Just erase that expectation from your mind.  You’ll have all year to get to know each other.

3. DO communicate about major dorm room items. 

Do y’all want to have a TV in your room?  A coffee maker?  Think large items that you won’t want duplicates of.

4. DON’T worry about coordinating your bedspreads, wall art, etc.

It’s not worth it.  The room will look great even if your sides don’t match at all; I promise.  You can also agree on just buying things together once you both move in.  Like if you want to choose a floor rug together.  I don’t recommend splitting the cost of things just because it gets tricky when it’s time to move out.  But that’s up to you.  If you end up splitting the cost of things, assume you won’t get to keep it come May.

5. Go in with expectations of learning how to be a great roommate, not of making her your best friend.

Some of you will actually become best friends and it’s so fun to watch.  But the majority of us live with roommates we wouldn’t normally be friends with.  The goal becomes learning how to live well with someone who is so different from you.  It is one of the best character building lessons you will ever experience.

My freshman year, I lived with a girl who could not have been more opposite than me.  I learned so much about myself, how to communicate honestly and openly, how to stand up for myself, and how to let go of “my way or the highway” tendencies.  I wouldn’t trade that year for the world.  Whether you become best friends or frienemies, I promise it will be one of the most transformative experiences you encounter in the next four years.