Having been thrown into a bizarre mix of college living situations, including a double, a six-person suite, a quad (bunk beds included), and the floor of a four-person apartment, I’ve learned to embrace the idea of never having my own things entirely to myself. That said, having college roommates who constantly use your things is never fun, but the situation is always manageable.
Sophomore year, to add some ethnic flavor to my suite, I hung a large Irish flag in the common room as a symbol of my family’s heritage. Soon thereafter, my suitemate freaked out about a bloody nose he was having, and grabbed the first thing he saw that looked even remotely like a tissue – that thing was my Irish flag. He realized what he had done, I could see the gears turning in his head. He asked sheepishly if I wanted him to hang it back up. I told him he could hang the new one up once he buys it for me.
It’s best to air these grievances up front, and not to bottle up the things that bother you. Holding these things back will only end in you exploding about something insignificant later, like DUDE, THOSE ARE MY ICE CUBES, STOP USING THEM. Communicating will be the best thing you ever do, and will save you a lot of frustration.
But roommates are multidimensional people: one minute you tell them not to eat your peanut butter and the next it’s all over their fingertips while they’re passed out on your futon. College roommates operate in the most convenient way possible, that’s just how we’ve been raised. So when your roommate is out of shampoo, rather than foregoing a shower, he is obviously just going to use yours. Talking it through is always a good first step, but for some of the essentials – soap, Cookie Crisp, silverware – communication just won’t work. The next step: hide your things.
I’ve lived with some of my best friends all four years of college and I still choose to hide the things that no man could resist taking if given the opportunity. For example, where do you think I keep my Capri Suns? That’s easy, obviously in the cheese drawer at the bottom of the refrigerator with all my other good food. My toothpaste? Clearly goes in the top drawer of my dresser. And Q-Tips? This one’s tricky, but you can find those in my desk. Yes, it’s a little less convenient to have to be at my desk to use Q-Tips, but it is well worth it to not open the bathroom cabinet and find that they’re all gone.
I’ve saved myself a fair amount of money and countless roommate arguments by being strategic. If you’re afraid people will think you’re weird for hiding things from your friends, by all means keep buying new toothpaste every three days. Also, next time you go to take “just a little bit” of your roommate’s laundry detergent / shampoo / milk / etc., think about how you feel when he or she does that to you.
Do these things sound familiar? Everyone has these moments with his or her roommates. Share your experiences in the comment section below.