If you’re an only child, life for you has been easy sailing. You always were assured that the Capri Suns you like in your lunch everyday were in stock and that your Zebra Cakes were always there for a late night snack. You never had to worry about toothpaste running out on you because you were the only one using it and your parents had extras in the closet for when yours was spent. Your video game console was always exactly as you left it, with your memory card and accounts linked just how you like them. You never had to worry about sharing your ice-cream with your siblings or sharing really anything at all.
If you have grown up with other siblings, then you are more aware of how it can be to share space and toys. Those Capri Suns you love so much rarely were packed in your lunch, surprising you out of your seat every time you’d open that brown lunch bag and see the silver wrapping glaring back at you. You almost never had Zebra Cakes, or got to taste them, because your younger siblings would eat them while you were at school, leaving only the empty hollow box left in the cabinet to tempt your taste buds. You may have gotten lucky with the toothpaste since most kids hate brushing their teeth but even then it goes fast. Your video game consoles were almost always moved, broken or overheating due to so many people endlessly playing on them. And your ice-cream? Forgetaaabout it, you’d be lucky to see it melted in the bowl!
Living with your roommate in college can either be one of the best, or worst, experiences of your young adult life. You’re learning to share your immediate space with another person you’ve never met before. This means that you’re not only sharing those small four walls, but also everything in between. Food, makeup, clothes and whatever else you can think of is now shared between both of you. Problems with inconsiderate roommates have forced many students to start labeling their belongings. If you’re moving into a dorm room and are worried that your roommate might take your item-labeling as rude, go over a shared budget with them to discuss how things will be paid for.
Food- If you’re both going to be sharing food, make sure that you each are putting in a set amount every week or two weeks (depending on how much munching you do) to go grocery shopping. Pick a day out of that time to go to the store together and get things you both want. This way, when you come home from class and are looking for your favorite package of Ramen Noodles you can be assured that it’s there. If you are paying for your own food, set up designated shelves or areas where you store your food and your roommate stores theirs. Any food taken from your “stash” after this will be warrant for trouble. Labeling all of your food in the fridge may look a little “hungry”, but if you roommate isn’t respecting your food or money, than it’s an effective way to get your point across.
Clothing- I’m almost always in a rush. In fact, I’m never on time for anything in my life. I’m even late for being on time to being early to getting ready for being on time for a daily activity. If you’re scatterbrained like me, you like to know where all of your things are to grab at any second. Running to your closet to put on your go-to outfit and not being able to find your shirt or blouse is by far the most frustrating thing. Not only are you then uber-late because you have to come up with a new ensemble, but you also worry about where your favorite item went missing to. Walking out of your 3 hour lecture that you were late to and seeing your roommate laughing it up as they stroll down the hallway in your blouse is infuriating. If you and your roommate are sharing clothing, it would be wise to have one section in your closet for “sharing” and one section in your closet that’s off limit. That way, you can put the clothing you don’t wear as often in the “sharing” section, and leave your favorite fashion staples roped off to borrowers. I once had a friend in college whose roommate would let her friends borrow her roomie’s clothes. Imagine my annoyance when a shirt I had lent my friend was lost in a different state and never returned. Set boundaries for each other’s belongings and replace something if you rip, stretch, stain or lose something that you borrowed.
Cleaning Supplies/Trash Bags- You both may not want to spend money on these things, but you’re really going to see how much you need them. Dust and grime collects quickly in a small space shared by two people. This happens even quicker if the space your sharing is being cooked, slept and lived in almost every second of the day. Sit down and invest in some serious Mr.Clean or Clorox wipes and air freshener. A little wipe on top of the microwave here and a little spritz of some floral air freshener will go a long way. Splitting the cost for these things and things such as plastic plates/utensils and trash bags will keep your room stocked with the essentials so you can clean up messes and filth. Set up a schedule to take turns cleaning the room, or set a time that both of you are available to clean up together. Don’t forget to do some frequent “spring cleanings” throughout the semester to get rid of accumulated stuff neither of you need nor have been using.
Bathroom Essentials- Regardless if you are using a community bathroom or a private bathroom between four rooms, you’re going to need to buy things like Shampoo, Conditioner, Face Wash, toothpaste and more. If both of you are carrying the same shower tote, make sure that BOTH of you are splitting the costs to buy your essentials. If you’re sharing a bathroom with another room, make sure all four of you are splitting the costs for toilet paper, toothpaste, soap, etc. That way you can always make sure that no one runs out and gets mad that they bought all of the supplies. If at any point a question is raised about who bought what, you could go to class without a shower, shampoo or toothpaste. Be prepared.
If all else fails and labeling your items is what you have to do, then do it. There’s no reason why you should be footing the bill for your essentials AND your roommates if they aren’t willing to help out or respect your things. If you have to get a safe and lock some of your stuff up or get a lock for your closet/trunk, definitely do that. Sharing space is all about being courteous and respectful. If your roommate can’t do either of those things, don’t feel rude about labeling or locking up your things.