Cherubs declassified: Roommate survival guide

When you meet the stranger you will be living with for five weeks, you may think it will be impossible to get comfortable. But with a few simple tips, you will quickly befriend — or at least peacefully coexist with — your roommate.

If a “Cherubs’ Declassified: Roommate Survival Guide only gave one tip, it would advise finding common ground. You don’t have to be besties with your roommate, but you do need to get along. Remember: you’re both here because you love to write, so you already share something in common.

Here are some tips for roommate relations.

1) Keep an open mind. Take advantage of this opportunity to get to know somebody with a completely different lifestyle than yours. Ask about home life, friends, school and favorite foods.

Roommates Will Rende of Baltimore and JB Lim of Seoul, Korea:

He was eating squid chips one time. I tried one. It was disgusting! It just tasted like seafood. I think it was seafood-flavored chips. It was not real fish,” Rende said.

“Many people I gave the chips to liked them. It’s a Will problem!” Lim said.

Roommates Will Rende and JB Lim. Photo by Celine Macura.

2) Find music you both enjoy so you can jam out while getting ready in the morning or winding down at night. Don’t underestimate the bonding experience of rocking out to“Face Drop” by Sean Kingston while brushing your teeth.

Roommates Jenna Clark of Novato, California, and Meghan Hayfield of St. James, New York, love to dance to “Imma Be” by The Black Eyed Peas.

“It’s just a hype song. It’s easy to know the words. One time we even got a strobe light in our room. It was interesting,” Clark said.

“Sometimes we’re sitting in lectures in Fisk Hall, so it’s a great way to relax when we get back,” Hayfield said.

Roommates Meghan Hayfield and Jenna Clark. Photo by Olivia Cohen.

3) Adopt each other’s lingo. You’ll pick up phrases from your roommate and vice versa, and soon you’ll be speaking in your own exclusive lexicon. The goal is for nobody else around you to understand anything you and your roommate are saying.

Roommates Sara Siqueira of Piedmont, California, and Samantha Wanderer of Yorktown, Virginia:

“She always says stuff like ‘I’m shook’ or ‘I’m weak,’ and none of my friends at home say that, so it’s just kind of funny. It’s just become so much more normal to me. She’s just saying, ‘I’m shooketh,’ and I’m like ‘Yeah, it’s just another day,’” Siqueira said.

“Sara and I were talking at night one time, and I was telling her how I use Twitter. She said only weird people use Twitter at her school. People say ‘I’m shook’ and ‘I’m so weak’ on Twitter all the time, so I guess I started saying it,” Wanderer said.

Roommates Sara Siqueira and Samantha Wanderer. Photo by Celine Macura.

4) Trade clothes. This could be your chance to turn your urban New York style into a Southern Belle-esque wardrobe or to exchange your American garments for some Korean street wear, courtesy of your roommate.

Roommates Frankie Gaynor of Coral Springs, Florida, and Julia de Petra of Piedmont, California:

“We trade clothes sometimes, and I borrow her purse,” de Petra said.

“I’m gonna try to convince her to let me take her jean shirt home with me,” Gaynor said.

“Nope. No way,” de Petra said.

Roommates Frankie Gaynor and Julia de Petra. Photo by Tim Lan.

4) Ask each other about living habits. What time does your roommate like to go to sleep? Wake up? Are you a neat freak? Establish guidelines for the room so you will both be comfortable. Be respectful. For example, you can still stay up late if your roommate likes to go to sleep early, but hang out in the common room and be quiet getting ready for bed.

Roommates Claire Luo of Shenzhen, China, and Milly Chi of Buena Park, California:

“I go to bed around 1 or 2 a.m., and Claire goes to bed around 11:30. She has a sleeping mask and earplugs, so I don’t bother her when I come in. The lights are always off when I come into the room late at night, so usually I just leave my desk light on 24/7,” Chi said.

“She likes to turn down the AC to 60 degrees, and I prefer 70. The first week, because of the jet lag, we all went to bed at 2, but later I adjusted my time and started going to bed earlier but she still went to bed at 2, so that’s when I realized how energetic she was. She always invites friends to our dorm, and they never run out of things to talk about,” Luo said.

Roommates Milly Chi and Claire Luo. Photo by Callaway Palk.

5) Give each other space. The dorm rooms are small, but personal space is important. Stick to your side. If your roommate doesn’t want you touching his or her stuff, don’t.

Roommates Ben Davis of St. Paul, Minnesota, and AJ Shaheen of Petaluma, California:

“I care about journalism and not the organization of my room, so I don’t waste time making sure everything’s perfectly neat on my side of the room whereas he does,” Davis said.

“You can’t have a clear mind unless you have a clean room, alright? There’s no cutting corners. That’s why I hope that he cleans his room more often,” Shaheen said.

Roommates AJ Shaheen and Ben Davis. Photo by Celine Macura.

6) Avoid confrontations. Remember, you can’t slam the door in rage to get away from your roommate, so don’t get too caught up in the heat of the moment. Always leave things on good terms so your living arrangement doesn’t become hostile. If you and your roommate disagree on something, compromise!

Roommates Sam Heller of New York and Thomas Martinez of Miami:

“People say we’re like an old married couple. We fight about very petty things. Thomas doesn’t like the AC on at night. He says it makes his mouth dry. We came up with a system where we leave it on around 60-70 during the day so it gets cold, and we open up the window at night and turn off the AC,” Heller said.

Im used to warmer temperatures because Im from Miami, Martinez said.

Roommates Sam Heller and Thomas Martinez. Photo by Celine Macura.

7) Communicate. Get your roommate’s contact information so that you can make sure you’re never locked out. Staying in touch with them is essential, especially if you want to give them a heads up that you’ll be going to sleep early or staying up late.

Roommates Eli Karp of Briarcliff Manor, New York, and Brian Chang of Chino Hills, California:

“I grabbed my bag, went down into the hallway and I was halfway down, ready to go down the stairs and I realized I left my key in the room. I was like ‘I need my roommate Brian.’ I messaged Brian, and he was able to help me get back in,” Karp said.

“It’s really easy for us to get along and help each other out. One time I locked myself out. I texted him, and he came over from Norris right away,” Chang said.

Roommates Eli Karp and Brian Chang. Photo by Celine Macura


The authors are roommates.