Hey gang! Excited to meet your new family for the next academic year? Well, you should be — gaining friends can be a zesty, good-time enterprise rich with opportunities for “best bros”- or “BFFAEAEAE”-type situations. Now, I know what you’re thinking, namely, “I’m gonna schmooze the shit out of these bitches,” and dammit, I admire your enthusiasm, but hold your horses, John Wayne! You don’t want to make any embarrassing mistakes along the wondrous journey toward harmonious suite familiarity. Here are a few tips to make sure it’s a smooth ride all the way through. Enjoy!
Name your space.
Nothing makes your common room feel cozy like coming together with some 45-cent ramen and an eighteen of Natty to hash out a moniker for your suite. For a guys’ suite, try on a tastefully masculine name like “The Hall of Poon” or “The Bro Cave.” Ladies, why not commemorate your first year of college with something that announces your impending and inevitably bewildering sexual transformation? “The I-Only-Get-With-Quirky-Cultured-Types-Unless-You’re-Really-Good-Looking-In-Which-Case-I-Will-Disregard-Said-Quirky-Type’s-Heretofore-Successful-Advances Shack,” anyone? Or “The Lady Hole.”
Breakin’ the ice.
Icebreaking games are a speedy and fun way to build bridges (OF TRUST!) between you and your suitemates. But be careful! Deviating from the time-tested collection of icebreaker games can be risky. For example, “Never Have I Ever” lets you and your living companions bond over your shared foibles. “Which Ethnic Group Do You Hate the Most?” probably doesn’t.
A suite that hangs together hangs together.
Your party will inevitably make the communal trip to IKEA to buy a coffee table made from the best compressed sawdust money can buy (it will get delightfully sticky within the first two weeks from all kinds of fun surprises). Take the opportunity to bond over that ludicrous jumble of letters the Swedes call a language! If you have the resources, work out a groovy design scheme. Decorating your suite as a group will make everyone want to hang there. Check out craigslist for used furniture in the area, or get some free pseudo-pop art from a silkscreen-happy friend. If you’re one of “those guys,” resist the urge to put up a “Scarface” poster! We know it’s awesome — give it a rest.
Set ground rules early and often.
In your suitemate’s culture, filling your socks with chorizo is a sign of brotherly affection! These things happen; nip them in the bud, or you’re going to end up with a whole lot of spicy socks. This is easier said than done when matters of sexiling (i.e. giving your roommate the shove so you can get some love) come into play. But the best course of action is to evaluate everyone’s comfort level. In fact, “Comfort Level” can be a wonderful icebreaker: stay in the room while your roommate works his/her way toward an amorous embrace and see how far his/her partner is willing to go before he/she freaks and kicks you out. If it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen, take the game to the next level by attempting to join in on the fun!
Don’t be in debt to someone you see every day!
That’s pretty much it.
Discover Yale traditions together.
Go on an excursion up Science Hill or split a barely conscious G-Heav sandwich at three in the morning while debating who loves whom more. Whatever it is, do it as a team, because when you play together as a suite, everyone wins!
Play it cool, daddy-oh.
Unless you’re Tom Riddle (Harry Potter joke!) your suitemates will most likely assume that you’re a generally reasonable person who wants everyone to get along. Be friendly, but don’t overdo it, guy! If you head to a party as a totally rockin’ Wolf Pack (another great name), don’t feel bad if you hit it off with a happening dude/chick and want to fly solo for the evening. You’re a social, hot-blooded college being, so branch out! The pack will accept you into the fold when you get back. Mike Birbiglia put it best: “No one wants to hang out the guy who ends every sentence with, ‘Do you guys hate me?’”
But of course, nothing’s written in stone — experiment (with consent!) with different ways of getting to know your living mates. Happy trails, and whatever you do, don’t be the “Apples to Apples” guy. That’s never cool!