Going to college means immense changes in their lifestyle for most students. Living in a dormitory remains a major challenge as it means learning how to share space with others who are total strangers.
While some can live together peacefully, others may encounter conflicts that need to be worked out.
According to a recent survey of students in 12 different universities in Wuhan, only 40 percent of respondents are satisfied with their dormitory friendships and 30 percent said they keep aloof from conflicts in the dorm.
“Living in a dorm can be a great experience and many make lifelong friendships,” said Tan Mali, deputy party secretary of South China Normal University.
However, disaster can strike when conflicts arise and they are often difficult to resolve, Tan added.
For those living in a dorm for the first time, sharing things, such as a laptop or paper towels, can be a source of conflict.
Hu Guoqiu, 18, a freshman majoring in law at Fudan University, said that one of his roommates used the others’ shampoo, soap, and even toothpaste without asking for permission.
“He took it for granted that he could eat our snacks, but he would call us stingy if we were reluctant to share anything with him,” said Hu.
Another common problem is related to different habits. “Sometimes one roommate may want to watch a movie, another wants to study, and another wants to sleep,” said Chen Lin, 18, a freshman majoring in computer science at Shantou University. “Such a situation can lead to arguments.”
Sometimes roommates may also clash when welcoming guests, especially those of the opposite sex. Sometimes they fight over small things, such as what type of music to play or whether to turn on the air conditioner or not.
However, there are more effective methods to solve problems than screaming at each other.
The best way is to talk about an issue before it even becomes a problem, according to Huang Bingchao, a student counselor in the foreign language department at South China Normal University.
You should approach roommates honestly and directly, and try to work out a solution. “Ignoring a conflict may be the easiest option, but it can cause issues to escalate,” Huang said. “Agree on a time for an open discussion so that everyone can think about it.”
Luo Lisha, 22, a senior majoring in journalism at the Communication University of China, proposed establishing rules that everyone can obey.
These rules can be written down in an agreement and posted in a visible place. Students can also outline which items to share and which are for private use. They can regulate cleaning duties, agree on a time to sleep, and decide on how to receive guests.
Counselor Huang, however, suggested that an agreement should contain penalties for breaking the rules. For instance, a rule could allow friends of the opposite sex to visit on weekends and stay until 10 pm, but if a roommate breaks this agreement, he or she has to tidy the room for a whole week.
In any discussion it is important to talk with your roommates in a positive way. For example, you could mention your roommates’ good personality traits.
“This can help them understand you better and make them more willing to compromise,” said Luo.
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