Ask Becky: Making Friends & Roommate Struggles

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Hi all, and welcome to the very first edition of Ask Becky, The Baron’s weekly advice column where your questions, comments, and concerns are read and answered by yours truly. This week, we received two questions from readers who are looking for guidance. If you are someone who has roommate trouble or are seeking friends, then this week’s edition may be for you!

Question 1: Jackie asks, “Becky, do you have any tips on how to make friends in university? (Particularly for a shy first year student?)”

Dear Jackie,

Apart from walking up to people and politely asking them who their favourite serial killer is, there are a lot of ways to get to know people on campus.

Most of the time, your classes are a great place to make friends. One of the wonderful things about university is that you are surrounded by people who want to be here and who are, most of the time, interested in the same things as you. As stressful as it can be, group work/working with a partner can knock down a lot of the walls that we imagine being up around us during a lecture. Do your best to learn all of the names of your group members and try striking up a conversation with them if you see them outside of class.

Alternately, if all the people in your classes have terrible breath or seem resistant to human interaction, finding campus events and clubs to get involved in is a great way to meet people. It can be a little outside of your comfort zone, but a situation as small as seeing a person in your class at an event and approaching them during/after is what can spark a real bond.

You should also keep in mind that showing up to a class/event/place where you know almost no one is a perfect opportunity to reinvent and reorient yourself. And if a group of friends doesn’t establish itself right away, don’t fret. It can take time, but reach out in class and on campus: talk about that terrible professor or that long assignment. No matter what they tell you in orientation, university is 50% fun and 50% suffering. The good news is that humans naturally bond over both those things all the time – it’s what gets us through it all.                                                            

Best of luck,

Becky

Question 2: Anonymous asks, “My roommate’s girlfriend is at our house all the time. Everyday when I get home from class, she’s there. Any idea on how to bring it up with him without being rude?”

Dear Anonymous,

There’s nothing worse than having strangers in your house – except maybe having them in your house all the time. As a person who, given the choice, would always go for wearing PJ’s at 2pm on a Wednesday, your situation really doesn’t sound like any fun.

It’s important to realize that you have as much ownership over the space as he does, and by choosing to live together you’ve also agreed to respect one another and the home. This person clearly isn’t doing that and is pushing you out of your safe environment by having a person you’re not comfortable with over there all the time.

I’m sure his girlfriend is a lovely person, but I’m not sure if anyone is seven-days-a-week lovely. And even if she was, I’m sure she’s got her own home and a parrot to feed or something.

On the flip-side, there’s no way to bar her from the home altogether, and so it requires the two of you to find a balance. Because at the end of the day, she isn’t the problem, and it’s a bigger issue of his inconsiderate attitude. It’s a good idea to look at the situation and ask: is this something I’m going to have to deal with in multiple forms over and over again? If so, they might not be a good person to live with.

But rule #1: Never live with anyone you can’t call out.

If you want to send a text or talk in person, either will work. Just explain and focus on how it makes you feel. Ask if you can talk about how the both of you can be happy in the situation. It’s not a question of rudeness, then, but assertiveness. And, perhaps most importantly, think about a solution to the problem. Don’t expect him to come up with one because it’s his girlfriend. Ask, negotiate, and try it out.

Be assertive and own your space!

Becky

Do you have a question for Becky? Ask it here and check back next week!