When Two Worlds Collide: Facing Your New Roommate


Narae Park

Student Writer

Getting settled into the new school year, you may start to realize that you are not meshing with your new roommate.  Roommate problems are quite common, but there are a few solutions that may help relieve tension between you and your roommate.  Here is a list of four common problems and solutions that can help.

1.    The roommate you don’t know.  So it’s your first year living in the dorms, and you didn’t know anyone else going to UCSB. Your roommate may not even be from the same country.  Solution: GET TO KNOW YOUR ROOMMATE.    Take advantage of all those fun activities thrown by the RHA, clubs, and coalitions and  take your roommate with you.  If you can get the courage to ask your roommate to go with you, you may just find that he or she is the best friend you’ll make in college.  If you don’t want to go to an activity with them, then just ask them to go to lunch or dinner with you. You guys could head to the dining commons, or check out the  restaurants in IV.  Everyone has to eat, so you might as well eat together.  This may develop into a daily or weekly habit, and you may be surprised by how deep of a bond food can bring.
2.    The roommate who has sex constantly.  You’re in your room, sleeping, when all of a sudden you awake to your roommate and another person having some “fun.” You don’t know whether to stay still, to let them know you’re awake, or to leave the room.  Solution: BE HONEST ABOUT IT.  If you’re in the dorms, you can use the surveys RHA hand out in the beginning of the year to work this problem out.  Tell your roommate you feel uncomfortable when he or she is having sex in the room and work out a system.  Maybe you can go to a friend’s, or they can find some time when you’re not around to have sex.  If you talk to them openly, honestly, and calmly about the situation, they’ll most likely understand how you feel and try to work it out.  Even if it’s hard to talk to your roommate about this awkward situation, it’s up to you to talk to them about it, or else you will sit there in agony wishing you could be anywhere else in the world at that moment.
3.    The roommate you don’t like.  Whether you were friends before you roomed together or UCSB Housing just randomly paired you up, not liking your roommate can be a huge problem.  If you can get to the bottom of the problem and figure out why you don’t like each other, it may help you get along for the year.  Solution:  WRITE A LETTER TO YOUR ROOMMATE DETAILING THE PROBLEMS YOU TWO ARE HAVING. Try to be as neutral as you can, and view the letter from your roommate’s point of view.  Imagine getting a letter from your roommate where he or she is telling you that it’s your fault that you two aren’t getting along, and you’re not doing any cleaning, etc.  Revise your letter and tell your roommate how you feel without accusing him or her of any wrongdoing.  Then at the end of the letter, suggest a  compromise.
4.    The roommate who doesn’t shower.  You walk into your room once and notice your roommate smells pretty bad.  Then it starts happening every week, then every day.    The question is, how do you tell them?  Solution:  BE HONEST, BUT DON’T BE BRUTAL. You can approach the subject of showers discreetly.  For example, you  you can start the conversation by saying, “Oh man!  I totally feel like hitting the shower right now. Don’t you love warm showers?”  Or if you’re coming back from the showers, you can say, “I love feeling fresh and clean after a shower. “ The bottom line here is that you just need to address the issue, or it won’t get solved.  If you don’t want to pussyfoot around the issues, then just be honest and say “I am sorry to tell you this, but I think that you might needto take a shower.”  If you don’t want to do any of those things, then I suggest cracking the window open and leaving the room door open if you can.
The Community Housing Office in the UCen is a great resource for anyone having roommate issues.  Whether it’s about cleaning arguments,  “sexiling”, or just flat out disliking your roommate, the Community Housing Office has people who can help work out your issues, or find another roommate if necessary.  Also, if you’re in the dorms, talk to your RA about the problems you are facing.  Your RA has probably  been in similar situations, or can help you find resources to help you solve your issues.

Illustration By: Lily Lazaro