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2 Easy Steps to Sharing a Room with a Stranger

Now that you have arrived in an exciting new country with a bunch of bright-eyed college students like yourself, it is time to get settled in. Depending on the number of students enrolled in the program and what housing type you signed up for, you may or may not have a roommate. If you don’t, that’s fine—you can set up your room however you want!

If you do, here are 2 steps that will lead to creating a friendly, comfortable environment with any stranger whom you will be sharing a room with for the next three months.

 A pano shot of my room in Sevilla!

1. Talk about how you want to split the room up and any specific wants or needs you have in terms of living habits.

Does your roommate have a preference? Do you have a preference? Voice these thoughts before you end up half-heartedly agreeing to take the bed closest to the large window that doesn’t have dark curtains, get woken up by the bright light every morning, and secretly resent your roommate (even though you never told him/her that you would rather be further from the door because it’s darker and you would be able to sleep more). In my opinion, this is the most crucial first step to having a positive roommate experience. Neither you nor your roommate are mind readers; if you wake up easily, tell her! If you like to wake up early and go on runs, let him know. Maybe he does the same, who knows? Either way, if you approach the subject in an open and friendly way about what you guys both want, I guarantee your semester will be much smoother than if you didn’t.

2. Be considerate about your space.

I cannot stress this enough! You are not living by yourself; there is a whole other person—with feelings, thoughts, dreams, problems, and goals like you—who you will be sharing a room with.  For example, if you are closest to the door, keep your bags out of the walkway so that your roommate can go to and fro the room easily. And whether you are close to the door or not, keep your room generally clean and your stuff organized. Not only will it keep you from misplacing or losing things, but it may do one of two things: 1) keep your roommate sane if he or she is very organized and neat, or 2) inspire your roommate to also keep his or her side of the room clean as well.

 Keeping your closet clean is a small but VERY
beneficial to keeping track of your things.

On another note, if you choose any housing other than an apartment, you will have some type of cleaning available for your place—I am in a Casa de Sevilla and have an amazing house mom who also cleans our rooms every month—and keeping a tidy room is a sign of respect to her. As my dad loves to remind me, “You are not the center of the universe.”

These are 2 steps you can take to enhancing your study abroad experience, so I hope they work for you! I just absolutely adore my roommate, Emma, who I met the first day that the program started, and we both did (and still do) these two things to get to know each other better and set the ground rules for how we want the rest of the semester to go. Best of luck to you!

Cynthia Hara is the Fall 2015 CEA MOJO in Seville, Spain. She is currently a junior at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.


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