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7 Questions to Ask Your New College Roommate

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More than 20 million young adults can enroll in college in a given year; and, depending on the institution, up to 100 percent of student bodies will live in university-owned housing. For many, that marks the first time they’ve ever had to share living space with a complete stranger.

If you find yourself under a single roof with a fellow student, it’s important to ask a few questions beyond how they’re doing and where they're from. Knowing more about your roommate’s habits and lifestyle can help make for a better, safer experience. 

1. ARE THEY DIABETIC?

While it’s not necessarily comfortable to pry into someone’s medical status moments after meeting, having a roommate with a chronic condition means knowing what to do in case they have any urgent-care needs. For a diabetic, that could mean assisting if their blood sugar drops to perilously low levels.

2. WHAT ARE THEIR DRINKING HABITS?

While most college students are not of legal age to drink, the reality is that alcohol consumption is a common occurrence on campus. Having an idea of your roommate’s typical routine when it comes to drinking or recreational drugs can help determine whether you’ll be comfortable sharing space with them. And talking about it early can help you set boundaries and ground rules in order to create an environment you're both happy to call home.

3. WHAT’S THEIR SLEEP SCHEDULE LIKE?

Having a roommate who’s up late while you’re crashing—or vice versa—can interfere with study habits. The same is true for mornings, where you might not want to be bothered by someone who’s up and around hours before you are.  

4. ARE THEY COMFORTABLE WITH GUESTS?

Small residency rooms don’t leave a lot of space for big gatherings, and even one additional person can feel like an intrusion. It’s best to ask your roommate how they feel about visits: their frequency, length, and whether their bed or chair can be used by a third party [PDF]. You may also want to ask your roommate if they mind being involved in conversations or would prefer to be left alone when you have guests.

5. DO THEY SMOKE?

Few—if any—schools allow smoking in dorms, but that doesn’t mean the habit won’t become a problem for you: Smokers can carry the smell of nicotine in their clothing and living space. If you’re particularly sensitive or have any allergies, it’s best to find out before it becomes a problem.

6. WHAT AMENITIES DO THEY HAVE?

Mini-fridges and microwaves are two common appliances for tight living spaces, and there's really no reason to have two of each. Figuring out who has what can help you both conserve space and money.

7. HOW DO THEY WANT CHORES DIVIDED?

Maybe you're a neat freak, and maybe your roommate prefers to leave piles of clothes around. Having clarification about what's expected of each party when it comes to cleaning up can mean less aggravation down the road.

[h/t U.S. News and World Report]

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Why Reading Aloud Helps You Remember More Information
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If you're trying to commit something to memory, you shouldn't just read the same flashcard over and over. You should read it aloud, according to a new study from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.

The research, published in the journal Memory, finds that the act of reading and speaking text aloud is a more effective way to remember information than reading it silently or just hearing it read aloud. The dual effect of both speaking and hearing helps encode the memory more strongly, the study reports. The new research builds on previous work on the so-called production effect by Waterloo psychologist Colin MacLeod, who is also one of the current paper's authors.  

The current study tested 95 college students over the course of two semesters, asking them to remember as many words as possible from a list of 160 nouns. At one session, they read a list of words into a microphone, then returned two weeks later for a follow-up. In some situations, the participants read the words presented to them aloud, while in others, they either heard their own recorded voice played back to them, heard recordings of others reading the words, or read the words silently to themselves. Afterward, they were tested to see how much they remembered from the list.

The participants remembered more words if they had read them aloud compared to all other conditions, even the one where people heard their own voices reading the words. However, hearing your own voice on its own does seem to have some effect: it was a better memory tool for participants than hearing someone else speak, perhaps because people are good at remembering things that involve them. (Or maybe, the researchers suggest, it's just because people find it so bizarre to hear their own recorded voice that it becomes a salient memory.)

The findings "suggest that production is memorable in part because it includes a distinctive, self-referential component," the researchers write. "This may well underlie why rehearsal is so valuable in learning and remembering: We do it ourselves, and we do it in our own voice. When it comes time to recover the information, we can use this distinctive component to help us to remember."

The message is loud and clear: If you want to remember, you should both read it and speak it aloud.

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The Brooklyn Public Library is Now Home to a Tiny Mollusk Museum
Courtesy of MICRO
Courtesy of MICRO

The Brooklyn Public Library is one of America’s largest public libraries—and now, its lobby is home to what’s being billed as the world’s smallest mollusk museum (and its first, no less). The vending machine-sized installation contains 15 different educational “displays,” all of which highlight fun facts about bivalves, snails, octopuses, and other soft-bodied creatures, according to The Washington Post.

Installed on November 10, the mollusk museum is the brainchild of Amanda Schochet, a computational ecologist, and media producer Charles Philipp. In 2016 they co-founded MICRO, a nonprofit organization that makes and distributes compact science museums.

MICRO's Smallest Mollusk Museum at the Brooklyn Public Library
Courtesy of MICRO

“Science museums are amazing,” the duo said in a video about their company, which is supported by Science Sandbox, an initiative of the Simons Foundation. “There’s just not enough of them. They’re all in wealthier neighborhoods. It’s fundamentally important for everyone to have access. So we decided to reinvent the museum, taking everything that we love about museums and putting it inside a box that can go anywhere.”

The factory-made museums are designed in collaboration with scientists, and created using 3D printing techniques. They’re easily reproduced, and can be set up anywhere, including libraries, airports, or even the DMV.

MICRO's Smallest Mollusk Museum at the Brooklyn Public Library
Courtesy of MICRO

The BPL’s Smallest Mollusk Museum is MICRO’s first public project. Why mollusks, you might ask? For one thing, they survive in every habitat on Earth, and have evolved over hundreds of millions of years. Plus, a mollusk museum of any type—large or small—didn’t exist yet, as Schochet learned after she once misheard Philipp say he was going to the world’s “mollusk museum.” (He was instead going to the “smallest” one, located inside a Manhattan elevator shaft.)

MICRO's Smallest Mollusk Museum at the Brooklyn Public Library
Courtesy of MICRO

The Smallest Mollusk Museum is “packed with exhibits including miniature movie theaters, 3D-printed sculptures of octopus brains and leopard slug hugs, optical illusions showing visitors what it’s like to experience the world as mollusks, and a holographic mollusk aquarium,” Schochet tells Mental Floss. “We've identified nearly 100,000 species of mollusks, but there could be as many as 200,000—they’re all around us, all the time. Every one of them is a lens onto a bigger universe.”

Librarians have also joined in on the mollusk mania, prepping an accompanying series of books for kids and adults about the many creatures featured in the museum's exhibits.

MICRO's Smallest Mollusk Museum at the Brooklyn Public Library
Courtesy of MICRO

MICRO's Smallest Mollusk Museum at the Brooklyn Public Library
Courtesy of MICRO

MICRO's Smallest Mollusk Museum at the Brooklyn Public Library
Courtesy of MICRO

The Smallest Mollusk Museum will gradually circulate through several of the library system’s branches. Meanwhile, MICRO’s next public offering will be a second mollusk museum, which will open in the Ronald McDonald House in New York City in December 2017. Additional locations and projects—including a small physics museum called the Perpetual Motion Museum—will be announced soon.

[h/t The Washington Post]

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