Having a roommate can be either the best or worst part of your college experience. A good roommate is a friend for life, but a bad one can make you dread coming home every day. Either way, nobody’s ideal living situation is a 200-square-foot cement box with another person sleeping two feet away from them. As a student with extensive experience in the field of roommates, I can attest to the fact that no roommate situation is perfect. So if you’re expecting it to be like the movies, it’s best to shatter that illusion as soon as possible. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still appreciate your roommate for who they are and get to know them the best you can. College sucks at times, and having a partner in crime can make the situation better. So, I have compiled a comprehensive guide to the various types of roommates you may encounter in the wilds of North Dakota State, their common characteristics and how to approach each one.
The common sticky note enthusiast
This is one of the most predictable roommates, instantly recognizable for its colorful display of red ink on pink sticky notes. The sticky note enthusiast tends to avoid direct displays of aggression, instead opting for covert, anxiety-inducing written reminders such as, “Dishes belong in the sink, not on the floor” or “Strange smell coming from your side of the room,” both of course with accompanying smiley faces. This roommate will prefer to communicate mostly in pleasantries and say that everything is fine, but it is evident from the number of Post-its in the bathroom that everything is not fine.
This variety of roommate must be approached with caution, as they carry a terrifying amount of repressed chaotic energy and are likely on the verge of implosion from holding in so much bottled emotion. However, the great eruption of 2019 can be avoided by learning to understand your roommate’s language. It is likely they view notes, however frustrating, as a gentler way to address a larger problem. If you notice this display in the wild, it is best to avoid future passive aggressive interactions by laying down a set of boundaries for both your roommate and yourself early on. It’s good to learn to respect your roommate’s preferences, but don’t let them control you.
The creature of the night
This variety of roommate is nocturnal. You will recognize them by the sound of them pecking on their keyboard at 3 a.m. when you are trying to sleep, as well as the tendency to turn off all the lights and take a five-hour nap on afternoons when you would really like to be doing homework. Some nights, you may even notice loud stomping as this roommate returns from their nightly gym migration at midnight, followed by all of the lights suddenly flickering to life.
This roommate variety is generally good-natured, but it can be a mistake to go the whole year without acknowledging their behavior. If you find yourself waking up to the sound of keys clacking at 2 a.m. when you have class in the morning, it is generally okay to suggest that your roommate changes their study habitat to a lounge room when you go to sleep. You may also want to invest in protective gear such as a sleep mask or earplugs if the situation is absolutely dire.
This roommate struggles to survive in the wild. They have never done their own laundry, have no idea how to work an oven and literally have never seen a vacuum cleaner before. Never particularly skilled at hunting or gathering, this type of roommate mostly subsists on Hot Pockets, ramen noodles and pizzas they have delivered to the residence hall lobby. They will typically inhabit a den or burrow composed of Monster energy drink cans, Little Caesars boxes and a sleeping bag they use as their only bedding so they don’t need to wash sheets.
If you can stand the clutter and the piles of clothes, this roommate is generally low maintenance and not prone to aggressive displays. Unfortunately, you can’t just teach people life skills unsolicited. If you need a tidy living space, it’s best to just grin and bear it and ask your roommate to do some tidying up.
The invisible man
This elusive roommate is either incredibly involved on campus or part of some sort of illegal activity because you have literally only seen them for five minutes all semester. Occasionally, you may glimpse them in the wild between classes and feel vaguely disappointed because you always imagined they were doing something more exciting than studying in the Union. They may frequently disappear at night, or say they are going home for the weekend and not return until Wednesday. Their side of the room is immaculate because it has been mostly untouched all semester.
Really, this roommate is a blessing unless you are the type who has always dreamed of being best friends with your roomie. Dorm life has a way of making you value your personal space, however, and you will probably come to appreciate the solitude after a few weeks of hearing other people’s roommate conflicts.
The mother hen
This one is a benevolent creature through and through. A mother hen roommate has strong parental instincts. They will be sure to ask you how your day was, check on you if you look down, invite you grocery shopping and probably make you cookies completely unsolicited. If you go out at night, you can be sure they will ask you where you are going and expect a text if it gets too late.
This roommate also tends to be a blessing, but don’t be afraid to set boundaries if you feel stifled.
This roommate exhibits extraordinary confidence, or at least does a good job of pretending to. Judging by their willingness to walk through the halls in their underwear or sprawl across the bed in a bathrobe when you have company, the exhibitionist has never been embarrassed of anything, like ever. In some cases, a particularly bold specimen may feel zero shame about bringing home potential mates and conducting an elaborate mating dance in the same room while you are trying to sleep. Just put a sock on the door, dude.
Realistically, no roommate you have is going to fit solidly into one category. Roommates are a complex species with rich variations and a variety of phenotypes, and your roommate will likely have a combination of traits mentioned above as well as traits that are completely unique. Adjusting to life with another person in the same room as you at all times takes a bit of trial and error even if you like each other a lot. It is best for both of you to get to know each other early on so you can establish boundaries and figure out the best way to survive the school year together.