Roommates sitting on a bed together

Nathan Written by Nathan (he/him), student

Before starting university and moving into residence with a roommate, I was admittedly nervous (I think everyone is during this time). It can be a big culture shock and it’s scary living on your own.

Sharing a room with a someone and finding common ground between differing habits, schedules, and preferences can be a challenging experience. However, once you get along with your roommate, it’ll make your university experience much more enjoyable. Here are some tips and tricks for building a positive relationship with your roommate.

When I first applied for housing, I wasn’t sure what to expect with having a roommate. The great thing about residence is that whether you’re a bit nervous about having a roommate or not, it’s such a supportive environment.

Katie, Planning student, Claudette Millar Hall (CMH) resident

Be yourself 

If you want to build meaningful relationships, you have to be your authentic self. Many people talk about the importance of 'being yourself' that it's started to sound cliché. But people say this so often because it’s true. When meeting someone new, especially your roommate, you want to show them a genuine version of yourself. You and your roommate will spend a lot of time together and it won’t take them long to get to know you (or see through you). It’s always best to be upfront and real with your roommate so that you can build the best possible relationship during your time together.

Friends in cafeteria

You don’t have to be best friends 

Although it would be great for all roommates to be best friends, this isn’t always the case. Instead of forcing this, accept the fact that you won’t always get along and celebrate your differences with your roommate. 

Roommates hanging out together

Now, this doesn’t mean you and your roommate won’t be friends — most roommates are! Having a roommate can be a lot of fun and provides an opportunity to build a great relationship with someone in residence who shares the same interests as you. When moving into residence, the goal should obviously be to build a friendship with your roommate because this makes the residence experience much more fun. To help with this, Campus Housing emails you a preference form that helps match roommates  based on their interests, values, habits, and schedules; the preference form will help you get matched with a roommate who you can get along with best. The next two things I wish I knew before I had a roommate will cover how to build a good friendship with who you will be living with. 

I thought that I would be here alone in my room not being able to fall asleep, but instead my roommates were so friendly. I was the last one to move in and they helped me organize my stuff, showed me around that night, and we stayed up talking here all night.

Preksha, Science and Aviation student, Mackenzie King Village (MKV) resident

Set boundaries and rules 

At the beginning of the term, establish a roommate agreement for you and your roommate to agree upon. This may seem like a silly idea but it’s super important to set clear rules and boundaries early to avoid larger arguments later on. 

Having conversations about rules and boundaries with your roommate can be hard conversations to have but they can go a long way to building a healthy relationship with your roommate. Establishing this agreement and putting trust in your roommate is a big step towards a good residence experience. 

Respect and trust 

Roommate relationships (and all relationships) are built on respect and trust.

In residence, respect among roommates is a two-way street. You should treat your roommate with the same respect that you would want in return. This includes being mindful of their schedule, asking for permissions before using their belongings, and giving them any privacy they need.

Waterloo student in residence room

In my experience, you also need to be able to trust your roommate. Building this trust can be challenging because your roommate may be a complete stranger at the beginning. When I first moved into residence, my roommate and I shared stories which built trust between us. As we shared these stories, we learned more about each other and learned to trust each other, which helped us develop a strong friendship.  

Building a relationship with your roommate may seem daunting but is important to build to make the most out of the residence experience and help you enjoy your time together.  


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