With the new and exciting experiences of college, one of the most intimidating is moving out of your home to a place near or on campus, and more dauntingly, living with strangers.
On-campus dorms and apartments and off-campus houses, apartments and townhomes are the most popular living accommodations for Texas A&M students. With this, one is almost guaranteed to be sharing their space with another person. 87% of first-year college students have one or more roommates, according to a study by Skyfactor Benchworks. With each new living accommodation, appropriate boundaries are beneficial to maintain civility in a household with new roommates.
Psychology senior Isabela McGough lived in an apartment and then in a townhouse at The Barracks, and said she enjoyed the roommate experience of an apartment more.
“Freshman year, I lived with one other person and it was great. We got along super well and we both had similar living habits, so we meshed really well,” McGough said. “My sophomore year, I lived with three other girls and three dogs. It was a bit overwhelming at times. My junior year, I also lived with three other girls and a boy and four dogs … it was very hectic. I think living with that amount of people became overwhelming and very difficult, especially in terms of keeping things clean and trying to study for exams.”
McGough said the most important aspect of living with roommates is maintaining communication, since everyone is raised differently and comes from different home lives.
“Making compromises is very important,” McGough said. “Some pros of living with roommates is you can get social interaction whenever you want. Another pro is sometimes you can borrow things from them, like living with three girls … if someone’s got a tampon or you need oat milk creamer, someone always has it. If you have a roommate that can cook, they usually cook for you, and that’s really nice.”
The biggest cons are having to compromise living with pets, but it’s important to work your way through miscommunications, McGough said. “Sometimes it would be hard when you have to take a test remotely or when you have to study for something because everyone is running on different schedules,” McGough said. “I think talking in the beginning and setting
ground rules is very important, and it’s an easy way to figure out everyone’s habits.”
McGough said having roommate meetings is essential to avoid fights or hostility.
“[Ask questions] like, ‘Do they party? Do they go out? Do they have a lot of people over?’” McGough said. “The one that comes
up a lot is people who have significant others, so it’s always smart to talk about that and set boundaries.”
University studies junior Courtney Loehr said there are challenges to living in an apartment and townhouse with roommates.
“Living in an apartment was nice, but also it was my freshman year, and I think it would have been cool to live with more girls because I think it’d be easier to make more friends,” Loehr said. “Living at a townhouse at The Retreat was almost too big. We had an awful experience because we had one random roommate, and so we felt like it was such a big place, but we felt isolated in our rooms all the time.”
Living in a house with people she is close to has been her favorite living experience so far, Loehr said.
“The house we got is the perfect size. It’s with roommates that I like, and we make it work,” Loehr said. “I definitely like living in a house because there’s more privacy, and we have a backyard and you don’t have to worry about towing.”
One of the best things about living with roommates is spending time with them despite busy schedules, and creating household traditions with the people you live with, Loehr said.
“It’s always sweet because you can just crawl into bed with them and hang out. It’s so great to live with some of your best friends,” Loehr said. “They become family. You get a deeper, more personal relationship with them, and you can lean on each other and just care for each other as well. It’s the spontaneous things, too, like doing a PowerPoint night or decorating
for the holidays.”
Having vastly different personalities or personal values is what Loehr said makes living with roommates who you’re not friends with much more difficult. However, she said setting boundaries and communicating often is what can help make a better living environment.
“Each person kind of has more of a set responsibility, and we have a group chat and things are good now between my roommates,” Loehr said. “We have one roommate that’s a little bit different than us, but you just have to accept that. You have to make the most of every situation.”
Originally published in The Battalion Maroon Life
By Kathryn Miller
Photo by Carlie Russell