When most of us go to a dance weekend, we end up in a shared hotel room. It’s hard enough to share close quarters (or even a bed) with people you know and like. It can be worse to try to deal with the annoyances brought on by a stranger.
But, there are some things you can do to make sure you (and your roommates) don’t want to strangle each other by the end of the weekend.
Make your own life easier
Understand their expectations
One of the biggest lessons I learned about roommates was to manage expectations before the event.
For example, determine if they want their own bed, or are willing to share. How many people can they tolerate maximum? Do they want a quiet room, or to be in the middle of the action?
Sometimes, a casual inquiry isn’t enough. For example, one girl I roomed with asked me if I wanted a party room. I said no, since I don’t like playing loud music or drinking with random people in my room.
But, to her, a party room was any room that invited two friends over to share a slice of pizza at 2 a.m. on New Years Eve. We tried to compromise by eating it on the far side of the room with a single small light on. But, any light (or noise) was too much for her.
None of us were happy. I felt inconsiderate and anxious, my friends were irritated, and she was furious.
Make your expectations known
Almost all of the best roommates I’ve had made their expectations known at the beginning of the event. Almost all of the worst ones didn’t.
If you’re the type of person who is legitimately fine with 3 people sharing a bed, that’s fine. But, don’t say you are ‘OK with it’ if you’re not.
If you want your own bed, say so. If you want to be in a room that is quiet after midnight with no friends over, say so. That way, you have set the expectation for the experience before the event begins.
There’s no shame in knowing what you want, but it’s incredibly frustrating if you don’t tell people. You’ll be frustrated and irritated because people are getting on your nerves, and they’ll be frustrated since you said it was OK. It’s a lose-lose situation.
If you are particular, get your own room
If you are someone who really needs specific conditions to be happy, consider getting your own room. It may be more expensive, but particular people need their own space. It will make both you and others happier if you respect your own needs.
If something bothers you, say it early on
Say that your roommate is doing something that irritates you. Say something (nicely). If you don’t like people moving your stuff and you realized they pushed your suitcase to the side, ask that they tell you before touching it.
Considerate communication before you’re frustrated goes a lot further than waiting until you’re seeing red.
Be a better roommate
Minimize the number of alarms
Your roommates understand that you may have to set an alarm or get a wake-up call to be on time for the first workshop of the day. But, if you do need to use an alarm, get up the first time it rings. If you do sometimes sleep through an alarm, set a backup – but cancel it as soon as you get yourself up.
Don’t hit snooze. Don’t set 10 alarms. Get your butt out of bed when the alarm goes off.
Lower the volume, if you can
If you wake up relatively easily, set your alarm to a slightly lower volume or less annoying sound. Some people (like me) get a rush of adrenaline if we’re woken up by a sudden, loud sound. If it’s really shocking, it can also make us a bit nauseous. This makes it very hard to recover from the wake-up, and get back to sleep.
Save your roommates. Pick a reasonable alarm.
Manage your stuff
I’m self-admittedly a little bad at this one. I tend to explode. But, the more people in the room, the more you need to manage your stuff.
Even if it’s in a heap inside your suitcase, that’s fine. The general rule is to contain yourself to a specific area. Avoid taking over the bathroom counter, living room mirror, chair, desk, and floor beside your bed. If everyone follows this rule, it keeps the space reasonably neat and makes it more comfortable to coexist.
Be bathroom considerate
Leave the bare number of items in the bathroom, and make sure to keep room for the others.
You should also make sure to spend minimal time in the washroom, especially if there’s a lot of you in one room or it’s a busy time. For most of us, we can use the bathroom for a shower, changing, toilet, and brushing teeth, but use the mirrors outside the bathroom for everything else.
And please, when you take a shower: don’t flood the bathroom. If you do, use your towel after you dry off to get rid of the rest of the water. You can always order more from housekeeping.
Don’t make the room smell
This applies to too much perfume, and bad smells.
Some people are very sensitive to personal scents. If you really like your perfume or cologne, ask before you spray. You may even decide to do it just outside the door or on a balcony, rather than where the rest of your roomies are.
Then, there’s food and other bad smells. Unless everyone in your room likes garlic, onions, fish, etc… don’t. Eat it somewhere else.
Bonus points for getting rid of food containers or putting them in an airtight bag ASAP.
Think before you go late-night dancing
If you like to go to bed later than most of your roomies, consider putting together all the stuff that you will need to get ready for bed… before you go social dancing.
I put all of my stuff together on my side of the bed, so that I can take it straight into the bathroom without turning on the lights or making a lot of noise. Your roommates will thank you for it.
Respect the space
Some people are really uncomfortable having their space encroached on. For example, I really don’t like people sitting on my pillows.
If you have roommates (particularly those you don’t know well), think about honoring their personal space if you have friends over. Don’t sit, eat, or drink on their bed. Don’t touch their stuff. If they’re in the room at the same time, keep the volume reasonable
Even better, ask and make sure they’re OK with company before you bring people over.
What strategies do you use to be a better roommate, or to find the right match? Leave your comments below.