University is the time where you meet a lot of new people: teachers, friends, classmates ... and roommates. Yes, you will most probably have to learn how to share your personal space with a complete stranger.

Maintaining a good relationship with your roommate is key to thriving in school and it can make or break a first year of university. Whether they become your best friend, or whether you want to leave your room every time they come back from classes, here’s a roommate survival guide for you.

How to find them

Aren’t they supposed to already be there when I arrive? This is one mistake incoming students make often: assuming that you can’t choose your roommate. UBC has a process through which you can request to be placed with another student, given that you know their student number. To find your potential soul(room)mate, check out the many Facebook groups that connect students before they arrive on campus, scroll through posts and send a message!

How to create harmony

That sounds a bit utopian, but if you want to live in a relatively peaceful environment, you need a way to create  harmony in your living space and a way to enforce it. The best way to do that is by agreeing to a set of rules. You might not need them throughout the year (nobody likes to be the person always referring to the rules), but the whole process creates an understanding that will help you avoid conflict.

How to avoid conflicts

Now about that understanding: it’s very tempting after that first rule-making session to assume that you know what your roommate’s preferences are. That is a bad assumption to make, and it can lead to conflicts. The best way to avoid these types of situations is to always ask. It will project the impression that you are genuinely interested in creating a harmonious living space.

How to deal with problems

Be honest about it: many students will prefer to keep quiet rather than potentially offend their roommate when a problem arises. After all, nobody wants to risk living in a tense environment, but nobody can read minds either. By respectfully laying your concerns bare, it’s hard for a roommate to get mad. Quite the contrary, it can lead to very productive conversations about shared living.

How to create good memories

Being friendly is a must, but once in a while it might be good to do stuff together. Invite your roommate to join your friend group, order food together from a nearby restaurant or binge watch a Netflix series together, anything goes really. You don’t have to become best friends, but creating memories together definitely lessens the impression of living with a stranger.

For some, living with a roommate will be old news. For others, it will be a first. One thing is for sure though: the skills you will learn along the way will definitely make you a better human being, and you might gain some precious lifelong friendships.