New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

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Tackle tense roommate relations with these 4 bonding activities

Your roommate relationships can make or break your college experience. Here are activities to help you break the ice and ease tensions with your living companions.
Mikaylah Du
(Illustration by Mikaylah Du)

One of the easiest ways to make conversation in any social setting is sharing roommate horror stories. It’s like those who’ve endured the trials of terrible roommates are forever bonded through their shared battle scars. Even though sharing these scary stories can be fun and bring humor into conversation, it is possible to avoid these horrors together.

There is a range for what classifies as a bad roommate situation. At its greatest extreme, your roommate can be inconsiderate, practically allergic to cleaning and painfully loud. It can also even be as simple as you and your roommate not meshing well. We can’t get along with everyone in this world, but whether your roommate is on the verge of turning your apartment into a junkyard or simply just not your cup of tea, there’s a few things you can do to help ease the tension. Depending on your situation, these four activities will help you bond or — at the very least — build common ground with your roommates this semester.


Share a meal

For me, the way to my heart is through a good meal. I’m telling you, there is nothing stopping me from loving you if you place a delicious meal in front of me. Sharing a meal — whether it be home-cooked, at a restaurant, or even microwaved — can bring you closer to your roommate. For some inspiration,Trader Joe’s Beef Birria is the perfect first step to evoke your own taco truck vibe at home and make your own birria tacos. Or, you can check out some cheap restaurants near NYU like Bites of Xi’an 84 or Desi Stop Deli. Friendliness is all about building experiences that can further your relationships. Having a meal together is one of the best ways to ease tensions between roommates and maybe even learn about their favorite foods and cultural dishes. Even if it doesn’t turn you and your roommates into the best of friends, you’ll no longer be complete strangers and at least got a solid meal out of it. 


Do a movie or TV marathon 

Film and TV are probably the easiest ice breakers. For example, I found my incredibly awesome roommate from bonding over a niche Norwegian TV show. The influence movies and TV shows have on us is so great that it helps us build bonds and connect with others, even if we don’t know much else about them. Think about it this way; if you can manage to watch a new episode or movie each week, you can continually check in with your roommate and build a more amicable relationship. NYU even offers Max — formerly known as HBO Max — for residential students and Kanopy to all students for free, both of which include an array of different movies and TV shows to make your marathons more accessible. Even if the pacing is horrendous and the acting is awkward, connecting with your roommate is 10 times easier under the filter of a movie or TV show. If you need any recs, I suggest “Skam” — aka the Norwegian show that brought me and my roommate together.


Have a fitness session 

If you’re reading this article, there is likely to be a part of you that is frustrated with your roommate relationship. Well, what better way to release your frustration than working out? Exercise, in almost any form, is known to be an effective stress reliever. If your roommate is the cause for your stress, then it may be helpful to work out with them. Take a SoulCycle class, stretch your limbs out through yoga or work out your muscles through pilates. MindfulNYU even offers free yoga classes Monday through Saturday in the Global Center for Academic and Spiritual Life both in person and over Zoom, taught by experienced teachers from all over the city. There are a number of ways to get fit, relieve stress and get along with your roommate in these shared fitness sessions. Letting out these frustrations together and connecting over a shared interest will surely put you on your way to a closer relationship.


Try game night 

For a more leisurely activity, you can turn to board games to amend your roommate woes. While board games tend to spur competition, they can also create a more relaxed atmosphere between you and your roommate, and can even get your suitemates involved. Dorms even have different sets of board games you can borrow if you want to save an extra buck. Personally, I enjoy the friendly competition — it’ll help you move past the awkwardness and get to know more about each other. Once you’re laughing and playing, you may even find that your roommate is someone you’d want to hang out with outside your cramped dorm. Suggesting a game night could be a simple and effective way to bring some joy and connection into your shared space.


Rooming with others is not just about claiming space, it’s about creating a harmonious living situation. Let this article be your first step into claiming that positive roommate energy and transforming your living space from awkward to amicable.


Contact Noor Maahin at [email protected].

About the Contributor
Mikaylah Du, Illustration Editor
Mikaylah Du is a first-year studying Media, Culture, and Communication. She's a fine art nerd and one of the few people that actually likes writing essays. Follow her art account on Instagram @mikaylahdoodles to see her post once in a blue moon.
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