Jasek: Living With Others for the First Time — What I’ve Learned From Having Roommates

Elizabeth Jasek (left) and two of her roomates, Jill Volponi (middle) and Abbie Lepow-Macario (right). - Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Jasek

I’ve heard stories about the nightmares of having roommates: dirty clothes left on the bathroom floor and the stack of dishes in the sink. But no one really told me about the amount of joy my roommates would bring me — not to mention the amount of growth and maturity that comes along with living with others (apart from family) for the first time. 

I live with three of my closest friends, and it is amazing. I cherish the little moments, like sitting at the kitchen table after dinner in silence because we’re all too stuffed to talk, the hellos I receive the second I walk into the apartment or making overnight oats at 9 p.m. for the next morning’s breakfast. 

After college, I won’t experience anything like this again. Let’s be real, whenever I move out of my parent’s house, I’ll need a roommate, because rent can be extremely expensive. The roommate will most likely be a stranger, thus, learning to adjust and adapt to living with others, now, is only making me a better roommate for the future.

There are a number of lessons that will follow you as you learn to be a responsible and sociable roommate. Here are a few things that I’ve learned throughout my two years living with my roommates: 


As cliquė as it is, communication is key. Roommates cannot read your mind, especially when issues arise — big or small. Let them know. Do not bottle up what you are feeling and ignore it, because, sooner or later, it’ll burst and, potentially, make the situation worse. 


Setting boundaries is quite important for a respectful living environment. Discuss comfortability levels on topics such as sharing food, having guests sleepover or borrowing each other’s belongings. Keep your things separate, and ask for permission before using something of theirs. 


Collectively and independently, being responsible in a shared space is crucial. Do not let that stack of dishes tower. Take turns loading the dishwasher, vacuuming the living room, and taking the trash out. I’d even recommend making a chore chart, although this does not work for everyone. When it comes to navigating and allocating household responsibilities, being open and communicating clearly with your roommates is essential. 

Alone Time

Living in a smaller environment with your roommates (especially in those freshmen dorms) can take away, what feels like, a large portion of your personal space. But it’s important to make time for yourself and prioritize your space. Put headphones on and listen to a playlist or enjoy an hour in your room by yourself. This allows for both of you to maintain some personal space while living in close quarters.  

Quality Time Together

Alone time is necessary, but so is quality time with your roommates — and this does not have to be in your house or apartment. Get all of your roommates together for dinner or ice cream, or stay in and have a movie night with popcorn. Building a relationship with your roommates is just as important as setting boundaries because these are the individuals that you will see every day — and maybe even spend the most time with. 

Respecting boundaries and being responsible in the place that you share with roommates will go a long way. It is something we need to learn now, before entering the real world and potentially living with a random stranger. I’m thankful for my roommates, and all the great times we have together. I wish we could be roomies forever. 

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