by Joan Feliz
You never truly expect to find yourself stuck outside your room at 2:00 a.m. while your roommate and their significant other “study” in your dorm room. Then again, you never really expect what college life throws at you. It is highly recommended that during your first year of college you stay in a dorm room. People will often tell you that it will be a fun way to meet new people and immerse yourself in the college lifestyle. But what nobody admits is that living with people you’ve never met before can be a pretty frightening experience. Luckily for students at UCF, the school has partnered with roomsurf.com, a roommate matching service that allows students to find suitable roommate candidates based on a compatibility survey.
The survey is structured into several sections, including cleanliness, personality, habits, sex, and personal beliefs. Once students have taken the survey they are given a list of matches, or potential roommates, that have compatible preferences based on your answers to the questionnaire.
The first section of the survey discusses your preferences when it comes to cleanliness. It asks what frequency you take baths, as well as the neatness of your room. This is important because you want your potential roommates to have the same basic cleaning habits as you. No one wants to wake up in the middle of the night, searching for the faint smell of rotten yogurt that interrupted your slumber, only to find out its coming from the body of the person you share a room with. Though they say cleanliness is close to godliness, some people might prefer to be as far away from deodorant as they are from the light of god.
The personality section discusses several factors that will come to define the relationship you share with your roommate. It asks about how outgoing you are, your willingness to share, the balance between studying and partying, and what kind of relationship you want with your roommate. It’s important to keep these things in mind because throughout life you will encounter people with several different kinds of personalities. Different personalities and values can often be the source of conflict in interpersonal relationships. Having a clear understanding of the relationship you expect is vital to building a strong foundation for your interactions moving forward. If you look forward to establishing a lifelong friendship, but are greeted with the cold shoulder of your roommate, problems could arise. This section of the survey serves to connect you with people who have the same social values as you.
The habits section examines how people conduct their daily routines. It touches on sleep schedules, smoking habits, as well as whether you will have friends over, and what temperature you prefer your room to be. This section is also meant to introduce potential roommates with people they have similar lifestyles with. Only this section discusses things that pertain more to daily life, instead of general social skills discussed in the previous section. Though not covered by this section, don’t forget to discuss with your potential new roommates whether they have any unusual habits not mentioned in this questionnaire. Talking loudly on the phone, stealing food, or walking around naked can be the source of conflict.
The sex section of the questionnaire discusses sexual preferences, as well as the likeliness of an overnight guest. The purpose of this section is to allow students to room with people they feel comfortable around. While society seems to be taking a turn toward the more progressive side of the political spectrum, some people might not feel comfortable with people of differing sexualities. And while we wait for some of the gays to open their minds, and hearts to straight people, it’s nice to know they have a safe alternative.
The personal life section covers the topics of political affiliations and religious values. They say politics and religion don’t make for polite conversation; however, as the MTV show Real World will tell you, when it comes to living with someone new, it’s time to stop being polite, and start getting real. It is important to discuss these issues with potential roommates, we want our roommates to be open and accepting of our beliefs.
Other topics to consider that are not included on the survey:
- Previous roommates: it might be a bit of an extreme, but consider contacting your potential new roommate’s previous roommates. You can get a better picture of their daily habits, and any potentially concerning behavior that could arising conflict.
- Chores: though related to the section covering cleanliness, it is important to discuss with your potential roommates their willingness to do chores. Remember relationships are about compromise. Consider creating a chore wheel in order to be fair in the allocation of chores.
- Disability: though UCF does provide assistance when it comes to disability and housing, it makes no mention of it in the roomsurf.com questionnaire. It is important that your potential roommates know who you are, so don’t be shy to include disability as a part of your conversation.
- Pets: UCF might not allow pets on on-campus housing, but if you are considering living off-campus pets are an important issue you must be sure not to overlook. And while a friendly furry companion might seem like a good idea, it is a commitment you, and your potential roommates might take into more serious consideration.
Your first experience living with new people can be a challenging, but fun experience. Because who else, if not for our roommates would go with us for fast food runs in the middle of the night? Who else would borrow their sibling’s ID to get us alcohol? Who else would share their last bowl of ramen, as the freshman 15 becomes more and more of a myth, if not for our roommates? If you are lucky, you might build lifelong friendships with the people you lived with. And if you’re not, remember every situation comes to an end, and at least you will have good stories from this experience.