My name is Ally Brimmer and I am a senior at the College. It’s crazy to me that I’m even typing that, time flies! At William & Mary I am a sociology major, marketing minor and my meaningful involvements on campus are music and first-year students. I’m in a music fraternity, an a cappella group, and work for the Office of First Year Experience year-round as Director of Health & Wellness Initiatives.
I wanted to take the time today to write about my experience and knowledge with roommates and housing. Growing up, I had my own room so the idea of sharing a room with another person was kind of terrifying. I did lots of research by googling what kinds of questions to ask a potential roommate, how to decorate a dorm room, etc. I then followed the basic protocol and joined the W&M Class of 2019 Facebook group and wrote a post about myself and my sleep habits. I ended up messaging with a few girls from the page about rooming, and it did feel oddly like online dating, but nothing really stuck. So, I decided to take my chances and get a random roommate. I wanted to be friends with my roommate, but I knew that at the very minimum I just needed to be able to live with someone.
Then the time came where I was assigned my roommate Rose and our dorm Jefferson! We immediately reached out to each other to talk about our interests, habits, and what each of us would be bringing for the dorm. Once we both arrived that Friday morning in August, we both were so excited and nervous to be in this new situation together. To this day, I’m so grateful that Rose was my freshman roommate and that Residence Life put us together.
A couple tips I have for living with your new roommate in a dorm:
- Be realistic with your roommate expectations
What I mean when I say that is you may not be best friends with your roommate and that is totally okay! The key thing is to make sure there is mutual respect between the two of you. And try not to put pressure on the idea that you need to have the same roommate for all four years of college. While, Rose and I did not end up living together after freshmen year, we have remained very close. Everything will work out the way it is supposed to, so don’t feel the need to force anything. Bonding with your roommate will come naturally!
- Get to know your hallmates
Now don’t get me wrong, if you and your roommate get along you should hang out and develop your friendship, but don’t close yourself off the other wonderful people in your hall. During Orientation, be sure to hang out with the people that will be living a few doors down for you for the year. Maybe even bring some extra foldable chairs to have in your room for when you want to have people over. My two best friends were on my freshmen hall, and this is the kind of story you will hear all over campus.
- Take your roommate contract seriously
Your first year at William & Mary can be a wild time because so many things will be new to you. Because of this, it is important to take the time with your roommate to lay some ground rules to make sure they aren’t having people over at 2:00 AM on a Thursday if you have a test the following day. Having that contract as a foundation, is a great place to start.
- Utilize your RA
Your Resident Advisor is a great resource who can point you in the right direction for something fun to do on campus or can help you resolve conflict with your roommate. RAs are such great, hardworking students, but it is important to remember they are still students with their own classes and deadlines. So perhaps make sure you have your key with you before you take a late-night shower and lock yourself out of your room.
- Have a fan and a blanket in your room
Williamsburg is a swamp if you did not know, which means we get all kinds of weather at random times. This past February we had 70-degree weather and then the next week had snow. Be prepared for everything! Even if you are lucky and have air conditioning in your dorm, have a small fan with you just in case because your roommate and you may disagree about the temperature.
- Loft or raise your bed
Space is limited in freshmen dorms so you are going to want to store your dresser, mini fridge, microwave, or random belongings underneath your bed. Personally, I don’t recommend putting your desk underneath because I couldn’t work in what felt like a cave. But I lofted my bed freshmen year and it was very helpful to have more floor space.
- Don’t be nervous
Lastly, I know it’s nerve-racking to live with a new person and start this new part of your life, but it will all work out. Personally, reading lots of articles and checklists made me feel calm and as if I had my life together. Everyone is just as nervous as you are, even though they may not show it. You can always reach out to your RA, your Orientation Aides, or your parents if you need to talk or are feeling homesick. When you move in Friday, August 24 be ready to open yourself up to new experiences!
The Office of First Year Experience is responsible for creating an engaging transition experience where new students, both first-time in college and transfer students, are empowered to optimally thrive at William & Mary.