Editor’s note: the Dalhousie Gazette has honoured the request to withhold the last name of one source to protect her privacy and well-being.
For many students entering university this year, having a roommate will mean living with a complete stranger. The results can be great, or as some students have discovered the hard way, absolutely terrible.
Kiera, a student in her second year at the University of King’s College, had a roommate with some strange habits that were difficult to get used to.
“Honestly, I tried my absolute hardest to spend the least amount of time possible in my room or near her,” says Keira. “The weirdest thing was just waking up to her in the dark staring at me.”
Keira describes how one day after class, she walked into her room hoping to take a nap.
“I see all these people in my room,” says Keira. “Then I heard this screech. I look down, and there’s this person with a bird. Like, a bird that they kept in residence somehow.”
Olivia Malito, a Dalhousie University alumna, also had a difficult time with one of her former roommates in Halifax.
“[We] shared very different ideals about how a living space should be,” says Malito in a Facebook message to the Dalhousie Gazette. “I’m very neat, whereas she was quite the opposite.”
Malito says her roommate would leave toenail clippings all over her futon and “pyramids of used tissues everywhere.”
“She didn’t understand why dish soap was necessary [and] missed the toilet when she’d use it,” Malito says. “She would never wash her hands or buy hand soap for the bathroom [and] left opened food everywhere despite us having mice issues.”
Roommates to best friends
Not all roommate experiences are terrible, of course. Sabina Wilmot, a second-year King’s student, had a great time with her roommate in first year.
“When you have a roommate, sometimes you’re living with someone and sometimes you’re living around someone,” says Wilmot. “I liked that I was living with her.”
Wilmot says her roommate became one of her best friends. She even spent Thanksgiving that year with her roommate’s family.
“She always asks me at parties or late at night, ‘Do you think we’d still be friends if we weren’t roommates?’ and that [Thanksgiving] trip really solidified for me that we would be.”
James Ersil, another King’s student, also had a great experience with their roommate in first year. Ersil says they and their roommate “acted as support systems for each other,” as both moved to Halifax from faraway provinces.
Ersil says at one point in the year, when they and their roommate were both “at a low,” the two decided to start watching the TV show Avatar together.
“It was really cool to experience something together for the first time. I have really fond memories of us bonding over it together,” says Ersil. “As the characters became closer friends, we became closer friends, as cheesy as that sounds.”
What’s the secret?
As well as it worked for Ersil, watching TV together isn’t always the key to a good roommate relationship. So, what is the secret to getting along with a new roommate?
Malito recommends roommates sit down together and ask “telling questions” to each other to get a better sense of who the other person is.
Kiera advises students to talk to someone if a roommate situation is not working out.
“You’d be surprised how much your living situation impacts your school, your social life, your general mood,” says Kiera. “If it’s a problem, talk to your [resident assistant].”
Wilmot says that living with another person simply requires some effort.
“When you move out of your family home and you’re used to a certain way you go about things, it can feel weird to accommodate someone else’s practices that feel just as normal to them,” says Wilmot. “There are things that make someone feel at home [and] making sure it feels like a home for both of you is the most important thing.”