The thrilling independence of dorm life will quickly be tempered, if not overwhelmed, by the questionable joys of sharing your space with a stranger who may or may not have night terrors. While you can't do much about your roommate's nose whistle and affinity for tuna sandwiches at breakfast, you can at least do your best to not personally be terrible. And try to follow these basic rules, lest you find yourself waking up with mustaches drawn on your face:
Expressing yourself all over everything. Your dorm room is not a canvas on which you and you alone can express who you really are to dozens of passing strangers—but HALF of your dorm room is. If you want to throw out your furniture and make your side into an exact replica of the Dreamatorium, so be it. Just as long as you're not interfering with your roommate's design choices of "French people making out" posters and Hummel figurines.
No more eating peanut butter in your underwear. In general, you have to assume that your roommate's policy on nudity is "none." Because while (almost) everyone acts overly nice and accommodating during the first week of cohabitation, you don't want your roommate posting pics of your nude butt on Facebook in a fit of anger during week two.
"Later" is not your friend. "I will clean up my macaroni dishes...later!" you think, delicately balancing them atop your roommate's antique dressing table. "I will cover up the evidence that I read my roommate's diary...LATER!" you reiterate, falling asleep on a pile of her clothes. When she walks in on the remains of a floor-wide tie-dye party/eating contest and you're not around, your roommate has no way of knowing that you've sworn to clean it up later, nor will she care—she'll be too busy vengefully pouring Nair into your shampoo bottle.
Not everything you see is up for grabs. At home, you're probably free to eat/read/borrow just about everything you see, so long as you're not casually perusing the interior of your mom's purse or your parents' top closet shelf. (Don't go up there. We promise you'll find things more scarring than hidden Christmas presents.) But your roommate will staple together the legs of all your jeans if you continually skim off the top of her Triscuits—and saying "But I was going to wash it!" will not protect you once you've borrowed, stretched out, and highlighter-stained her favorite hoodie.
Nobody likes a vampire. (Or an early bird.) If you're going to be up all night, invest in good headphones and one of those clip-on book lights. And if you're one of those super "involved" movie watchers? You, your laptop, and your yelling at the main character had best book it to the shared lounge.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Once in a while, you've got to leave the room. For extended periods of time, and not just during class. There is no quicker way to irritate a roommate than to always be around. We promise that "roommate who's always always there" ranks even higher on the annoyance scale than "roommate who thinks showers are for weaklings." Study at a cafe, see a movie, join a club that meets at night: there are no drawbacks to leaving the room! Unless it gives your roommate the opportunity to assemble his research project on the effects of sleep deprivation on hoot owls. Sometimes, you are just not the problem.
Got any other tips for getting along with your roomie?