How to Deal With Roommates When Studying Abroad
Not Every Roommate Is Going To Be The Watson To Your Sherlock
When you study abroad, you will probably be sharing your apartment with a roommate or two. Here are some tips for how to manage living in close quarters with people you don’t know.
Living alone is expensive in most parts of the world, especially when you are trying to get by on a student budget. That is why most people end up sharing an apartment, or even a room, with others while studying abroad. It is a good idea to prepare for this in advance by thinking about the issues you may face and how to solve them.
Different people have different standards of cleanliness. You might be a neat freak, and your roommate a carefree mess-maker. Or vice versa. It’s a good idea to ask about people’s habits before living with them to try to find someone whose cleaning standards match yours. To avoid quarrels, you can agree on a cleaning schedule: For example, on Mondays it is your job to scrub the kitchen counters, and on Wednesdays your roommate tackles the bathroom floor. The next week you change it up. This way your shared spaces always remain nice and clean.
Though you both share the rent and bills, it will be better if one of you officially takes charge of your household’s money matters. Otherwise, some bills will surely slip through the cracks, and remain unpaid. If you consider yourself to be a responsible person, go ahead and volunteer to be the financial secretary. This way you can ensure that bills are always paid on time. To prevent any confusion or financial surprises, decide on a specific time each month to remind your roommate/s of their share of the rent.
You might be a vegetarian, but your roommate loves meat and cooks it every day. Your roommate might think that everything in your fridge should be shared, while you would rather keep your yogurts to yourself. Maybe your roommate leaves half-eaten sandwiches out on the counter for hours. The list of possible food fights is endless. To avoid them, have a clear discussion about house rules. Will you share utensils or each use your own? Will you wash your own dishes right after eating, or only later at night? Discuss what you both can expect from each other and figure out ways to be respectful.
You might be an extrovert who talks loudly on Skype with your family on weekends, and enjoys listening to music at all times. Conversely, your roommate may prefer a more peaceful, and quiet environment. Maybe they require a lot of alone-time, and would rather you not host study groups at home. These are things you will want to be aware of beforehand. Try to find a roommate whose noise and activity level is similar to yours, or with whom you can agree on the start of quiet hours at a certain hour at night.
When you study abroad, you will probably have friends or family members that would like to visit you at some point. Make sure you find a roommate who is okay with this. Some people are more private, and do not like having extra overnight guests in the apartment. Try to find someone who is on the same page with you regarding visitors, so that your bestie can start booking flights to come check out your new crib.
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About the Writer: Mirva Lempiäinen is a US-educated freelance journalist from Finland. After calling New York City home for about a decade, she now resides on the French-Caribbean island of Guadeloupe.