I just saw the email this morning….well to be honest…I had a minor freak-out when I checked from where my roommate was from LOL (I won’t disclose which country but our cultures are diametrically different). The roommate I had last summer in Korea is from the same country so I’m already wary. However, I do know I can’t form stereotypes or develop prejudices over one person even if my brain has already developed a template of it. I take pride on being an intercultural competent person so I’m currently trying to see it on the bright side and trying to see whether we might share common cultural traits (which all cultures all do). So in general, I’m cautiously optimistic about my roommate.
Advise to all upcoming (?), prospective exchange students (myself included) who will be sharing rooms:
1. Don’t assume anything (don’t be the ethnocentric douche)
2. Be sure to talk everything out and be direct (I don’t mean rude).
3. If you’re roommates: talk about your expectations and basic routine (after all, you’re stuck together so the trick is to live as harmoniously as possible).
4. Try to find things you might have in common (like same music taste or are learning the same language).
5. When you first meet your roommate, be sure to invite him/her to dinner or lunch or whatever or accept the invitation. This is usually the ice-breaker and I recommend that even if you ate or did whatever already, don’t decline it (if you do, I can tell you the rest of the stay together will be uncomfortable). It will also help both of you get acquainted.
To those who belong to individualistic cultures:
1. Always take into account your roommate and don’t just do things on your own (regarding the dorm).
2. There is such thing as Common Courtesy (there are things you shouldn’t just do, no matter how convenient they are for you as you’re not living alone).
To those who belong to collective cultures:
1. Always talk about what you expect and what things really bother you because if you don’t he/she will assume everything is okay. (it’ll be a smoother ride if you do).
2. Don’t assume your roommate knows there is such a thing as Common Courtesy so be sure to talk it out.
3. Do not concede on stuff that makes you upset for the sake of peace with your roommate. There are thing they have to let pass too and it can’t just be you. Believe me when I say that if you don’t it will do harm to both of you.
The list is not really comprehensive but it’s the most basic thing you should know about.