Auburn Family

“My house, my rules” is a phrase most parents use frequently and an expression most teenagers are ready to never have to hear again. For some students, being out from under mom and dad’s roof and rules is an appealing aspect of college life; for others, leaving the nest can be a scary transition. I have great parents, but I was itching to be out on my own by the time graduation rolled around. I couldn’t wait to live on my own and establish a home for myself in Auburn. What I didn’t know, though, is how tough it would be to keep up with everything involved with living independently.

I quickly learned that living on my own requires a little more than making the rules and doing the dishes. There are so many little things that have to be done to keep a house running smoothly, all of which I knew had to be done in a home but I didn’t really think about: washing dish towels, grocery shopping, dusting, vacuuming, mopping. My mom had done all of these things while the kids remained blissfully unaware of how the groceries made it to the fridge or how the towels ended up folded. Now, mom isn’t here and the responsibility is all mine.

I knew I would have to be responsible for all of these things, I just didn’t realize how much time and energy it would ultimately take. Somehow, my mom had managed to work full time and take care of a house, a husband, and four children. Now, I’m struggling to find time to fit housework in with homework and hanging out with friends. Not only did I learn to work these chores in to my day-to-day life, I gained a lot of respect for my mom when realized how much she had done for us over the years.

Among her household work, my mom also served as a referee for the kids. Before college, the closest I had ever come to living with roommates was my three brothers and sisters. And if I ever had a problem with my sister borrowing my clothes or my brother hogging the TV, my parents were there to mediate. When I got to college, I found that living with roommates was a lot like living with sisters. But when we had disagreements, there were no parents there to impose rules and arbitrate.

We had to learn how to resolve our problems on our own; sometimes we came to an agreement and sometimes someone just stayed angry. Issues like who does the cleaning, how groceries will be divided or what temperature the thermostat should read can grow into huge issues, leading to resentment and frustration between you and your roommates. Because of this, things didn’t work out with my first two roommates, but I learned a few lessons from the experience:

  1. Bring up problems before they become big issues- some things can be easily fixed if they’re addressed early enough.
  2. Make sure your roommate is aware of things they do that bother you- a lot of times, your roommate may be completely unaware a problem exists at all.
  3. Establish ground rules from the start- Are groceries community or personal property? Who will pay for dish soap, paper towels, etc? How does the other person feel about parties, alcohol, overnight guests, etc? Although these questions seem small and easily resolved, if they aren’t addressed they can cause huge rifts between you and your roommates.
  4. Write things down- when you agree on house rules, write them down in a small notebook and keep it in a central place. This will not only solidify your agreements, but it will give you a point of reference if you ever have another disagreement about what you decided.
  5. Handle your problems maturely- when problems arise, listen to your roommate and consider their needs along with your own.
John Griffin, a 2009 Camp War Eagle counselor encourages freshmen to compromise. “Remember to make sacrifices because, in a rooming situation, that is the only way it will work. One person can’t have it their way all the time,” he says. Jeremey Walker, also a Camp War Eagle counselor, describes living away from home as exactly what it is: “a great learning experience.” It’s a process that requires a lot of maturing and learning that won’t be done perfectly over night. Just remember to listen openly, have fun, and enjoy the next four years with “your house, your rules.”

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