You may be expecting your first-year roommate to be your college soulmate.
You'll braid each others hair (or beards, we don't judge.) You'll enthusiastically cheer each other up the stairs to the seventh floor of Hamilton blasting 'Eye of the Tiger.' You'll enthusiastically befriend Gloria at the Hewitt Action Station. You'll be like total friends.
Or you may have a less-than-best experience and be the weirdest fart to your unappreciative roommate. Or you'll be paired with a weirdo fart whom you won't appreciate.
But hey it's fine. Everything's fine. Life goes on. There are loads of ways your roommate relationship may play out, and the best thing to be is open-minded, genuine, and prepared. So prep yourself now cuz you could end up with any of these peeps.
We present the six roommates you could potentially end up with for your first year of university, and how to get along/deal with each of them.
1. The bestie
You'll meet. You'll click. You'll end up living together sophomore year too. This can actually happen. You can actually be absolute best friends with your roommate, thus setting the foundation for a great first year: you'll have support and friendship right in the Twin XL next door.
How to deal: One risk of becoming best mates with your roomie, is that you may feel like you don't need to make any other friends. Don't fall into that trap. Keep your door open; let people wander in and hang out with the two of you. Since it's significantly less awkward to go around your corridor meeting people when you're not alone, bring your room-bud along as you chill on your floor lounge or in a floor-mate's room. Just don't stop making friends because you've found your best one five feet across from you in your Reid double.
2. The parent
This one may overlap with the first. There's always that friend who wants to nanny or nag you either because they've got their own parent shit to deal with, or because they just really want you to be okay. It's great having a college mom sometimes to make sure your group doesn't get lost navigating Soho for the first time, or to construct elaborate GroupMe plans for your first night out, but there's a risk with these kinds of roommates or friends too.
How to deal: The parent roommate is great because they'll keep you on track doing laundry, homework, not getting lost, etc. However, you need to walk the fine line between being appreciative and subtly telling them to get lost. You can't rely on Roommate Mom because your Real Mom paid big bucks to make sure you learned how to live sans any Mom.
Let your parental roommate make plans and stuff, but assert yourself. Turn tense moments where you feel bossed around into light-hearted jokes, and even call them out on being the NSOP mom. They'll simmer down when real college life kicks in and, if you're both friends, you'll feel like you always have someone reliable around in the midst of headless chickens freaking out about life.
3. The amiable acquaintance
A lot of people think this type of roommate is awful, but these guys can be a blessing. The amiable acquaintance is that roommate who you don't have a lot in common with; you don't talk until 3 a.m.; you don't do everything together, but no one is mad at each other. This may sound lonesome and antisocial, but really they're kind of perfect because you have a solid roomie who respects you, allows you your space, and gives you the opportunity to explore other friendships without being über clingy.
How to deal: Always be friendly and genuine. If you have nothing in common, there's not need to ignore them or leave them out of plans in some mean kind of way. That being said, if they decline invites, don't get offended. Leave your roommate be; make friends on your floor; and appreciate the fact that you can come back to a room where there's no beef to be had. And if you're uncomfortable with silence in the room, just plug in some earphones or something. Silence (especially here) is often golden, not awkward.
4. Le faux ami
Hate to say it, but there are often people who you wanna shake off and can't. In this case you can't because you live with them. They're the kind of people who desperately want to be your friend, but you can't seem to feel comfortable around them.
How to deal: Do not not not be an asshole, okay? You're allowed to find some people annoying, but there's no need to go turning your hapless roommate into the butt of jokes or something. Set clear boundaries if you're worried about your space and time being invaded. Invite them to certain hangouts, but also emphasize the importance that both of you make new friends on your floors. Drop kind hints like, "I'm one of those people who really needs quiet when I'm on my computer." In short, don't be a dick; assert yourself; encourage both of you to socialize.
5. The ghost
You saw their dad at move-in day, but to be honest, come October you probably still won't be able to pick your roommate out of a line-up. They're out all night for any reason ranging from hardcore partying to going home to studying in Butler. Whatever they're doing, you're often alone in a dingle (a double that's now a single).
How to deal: You could be sad and lonely, staying in your room playing Lionel Richie's 'Hello,' or you could realize that a.) there are other people on your floor, b.) you now have a room pretty much to yourself (read: dingle), and c.) that means you can invite people over to hangout without worrying about disturbing your ghost.
Venture out to your floor lounge or other people's rooms and connect with them. If your roommate ever does return, don't resent them; just get to know them like you would any other person. No need to judge them for whatever they're doing outside the room. You could really just be a mad farter and they're avoiding you. Who knows?
666. The devil incarnate
Oh sweet hell, unfortunately this is a real thing. There are some roommates out there who really just are the worst. You know how I've kept saying "don't be a dick," "don't resent people," "just be open-minded," etc. etc? Your resident devil incarnate is probably Satan because he, she, or they are being the judgemental loser I'm desperately trying to ensure you aren't.
How to deal: First off, check yourself and make sure you're not the devil incarnate to them. That's always a lovely place to start. Unfortunately, if you're sure they're the worst and you can't do anything about it you can do a series of things (most of them are painful, sadly) including, having a calm, fair-minded discussion about specific issues you're facing; going to your RA so an impartial mediator can make sure no one dies during said discussion; or—if things are so bad that it's affecting your wellbeing—you can request a room change through your advisor. I hate to put that things can be that bad, but it has happened, and there are resources both at Columbia and Barnard to help you.
Sophia Hotung a Barnard junior who has had 22 roommates in her 22 years (mainly due to six-person dorm rooms at boarding school.) Her first-year college roommate fell under archetype #1 listed above, while she sometimes accidentally wandered into archetype #2 territory. You can reach her at email@example.com.
Updated August 11, 2017 at 8:13 p.m.