Rooming with someone you don’t know can be difficult.

Before embarking on this journey, I knew I would have to room with someone I didn’t know, which definitely scared me. I’ve always lived with my family, so I had not been exposed to the joys of living with a stranger.

Below, I’ve compiled some tips to prepare future study abroad students to make the most out of rooming with someone they’re unfamiliar with.

Before I begin, I want to preface by saying this is not an easy topic to discuss.

Everyone is different. What is normal to someone may not be normal to you, and that is perfectly okay. However, learning to deal with situations and being open-minded to change will ease a roommate conflict before it arises.

With that being said, let’s begin.

Establish ground rules from day one 

As soon as I found out my room assignment, I made an effort to get to know my roommate. I asked questions about her childhood, parents, background, etc. After the awkward introductions, we discussed ground rules.

For example, we planned what time we would shower and go to bed.

It’s important to have that conversation on day one so you both know what the other expects and there is no miscommunication.

Roomate Agreement.JPG

This is what a sample roommate agreement would look like. A simple document that shows exactly what each roommate expects and agrees to.

It’s also not a bad idea to write the expectations down. It could be a constant reminder of what you both agreed to, and if anything ever changes you could always change the rules together.

Practice good personal hygiene 


There are several items you can buy at a pharmacy to help against bad odor. Pictured are a few of the items I brought to Germany with me. Deodorant, perfume, soap, antiperspirant, the options are endless when shopping for deodorizers.

Before you take a trip, make sure you pack the essentials.

A nice perfume, strong deodorant, lotion and soap will go a long way. Make sure to reapply antiperspirant as needed throughout the day and shower often. After all, during a trip you don’t have to pay the water bill.

When you live in such close quarters with someone and smell unpleasant, it can make the experience less enjoyable for your roommate.

Nobody wants to live in a smelly room.

Clean up after yourself 

Keep in mind that when you room with someone you don’t know, you need to practice better cleaning habits.

For example, it’s perfectly fine to have clothes lying on the ground after you change. However, once your dirty clothes find a permanent home on the ground, it becomes a problem.

Make sure you pack a sealable laundry bag; it will keep the smell of your dirty clothes from contaminating the room.

We all have it happen, when nature calls you gotta go. Double check the seat and toilet before you leave the restroom; don’t leave a surprise for your roommate to find.

Everyone needs to eat, it’s what keeps us humans alive. Try not to leave open containers on your side of the room because they will attract fruit flies and those are not easy to get rid of.

Be polite and respectful 

Chances are, you won’t always get along with your roommate and that’s normal. You have to be respectful 100 percent of the time, though.

If something irks you about your roommate, so much that it keeps you up at night and even pops up in your nightmares, be confident in yourself and have that conversation with them. Your roommate may not even know that it was a problem to begin with.

I know it can be awkward having a real conversation with someone you do not know very well, but just make it known that you are trying to help them (even if your intentions are somewhat selfish.)

I hope those tips were helpful. I’ve encountered several difficulties during my time here, and it has made my experience slightly unpleasant. After the second week, I realized that my experience was just as important as my roommate’s and I decided to speak up.


My new roommate this week Diana and I before bed one night. Having a roommate doesn’t have to be all bad, the best memories sometimes are girl talk and taking selfies.

Voicing my concern was the best thing I have done. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

‘Til next time,

Marangeli Lopez

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