Every year, a number of students who have started their collegiate journey at another institution transfer to complete their studies at Illinois Wesleyan University. As upper division students, these transfer students are housed with peers who have a similar level of academic progress. Transfer students may have mastered some of the skills that first-year students are developing, but may still have questions about IWU and our campus culture. A strong roommate connection can provide support and assistance that eases stresses associated with Turning Titan as a sophomore or junior.
As a transfer student you can feel late to the party. It may seem as if everyone already knows each other by the time you arrive, and has made their bonds. It's easy to feel like just a random student thrown into the mix. You can feel an awkwardness when you're a transfer student. Having a person or a few people to provide social support and connections, to answer questions about IWU that might have been asked and answered more commonly in the first year, and generally be another pair of eyes looking at for you can be great. And as a returning student, helping to provide this support can be rewarded with a chance to meet and mentor a really fantastic peer. Some tips for being a good roommate follow:
A simple “Hi, I’m Samantha. Nice to meet you” will not do. Put some enthusiasm in your voice, and let them know you’re looking forward to getting to know them during your first year! Some easy conversation starters topics for your first few days living together are: what your high school was like, what you’re studying and why you’re interested in it, what you’re looking forward to/nervous about in college, or why you chose to attend the particular school. If you can get conversation started and flowing in the beginning, you’ll be much more comfortable to approach them for whatever may arise as the semester progresses.
For some, it’s extremely easy to leave home but for others, it’s one of the hardest things they’ll do in college. If you have a roommate who comes in and seems a little distant or quiet, don’t assume they don’t like you or are a loner. They may just be in a little post-goodbye funk. Be friendly and give them some time to adjust…see number 1!
Unless you are unfortunately placed with a roommate who doesn’t care about cleanliness, the best way to show your roommate you have a general respect for them is by doing your part to keep your dorm room clean. Dorms are typically pretty small, and it can be really easy for a mess to pile up. During my freshman year, cleanliness was one of the main things roommates fought about. Just pick up after yourself and avoid the arguments!
It’s really that simple. If you know you’re going to be out wayyyy late, just drop your roommate a line or a sticky note! You don’t have to give them details, but at least tell them if you’ll be crashing into the room around 3am. That way, when you do tumble in, they won’t be able to use the “well you could have at least let me know” line on you, and you can feel guilt free from a night well spent.
Being intentional with people is what creates real relationships. By this I mean making a solid effort in getting to know someone deep down. After you’ve established a certain level of comfort with your new roommate, slowly start asking more than just “surface level” questions. People want to feel like they’re important as an individual, and if you take a few minutes every week to sit down and just talk about life with them, chances are you’ll walk away from the experience with a great friend you would have otherwise never had.
If you come into college thinking that your half hour bed time routine from home will work exactly the same way in community bathrooms, think again. Don’t move in with the idea that you will be able to transfer all the habits and norms you had back home into your dorm room. Be flexible and work through any conflicting “ways of life” with your roommate as they arise.
As you get farther into the semester and get plugged into college, sometimes it’s easy to forget that you have a roommate. You have your sphere of friends and influences; they have theirs. Even though that typically happens, don’t blow them off. Keep up with them and encourage them along the way; you both will undoubtedly have ups and downs. This kinda goes back to the “being intentional” commandment. Especially if you’re a freshman, you only have one real freshman year, and living in a dorm and having a roommate can be one of the funnest experiences of your college career. Unless you unfortunately get stuck with an awful roommate, do everything in your power to create awesome memories and form a tight bond with your roommate. Don’t let this opportunity pass.