"Dear Expie" is a semi-weekly, anonymous column answering student questions on relationship troubles, family woes and more. This week, Expie answers questions about homesickness, loneliness, and roommate troubles.

If you’ve got a question for Expie, email ExponentOpinion@montana.edu. All submissions remain anonymous.

Dear Expie,

How do I survive living with roommates during the coronavirus pandemic? It feels like we’re always together, and I’m struggling to find time alone. The amount of contact is starting to cause a lot of tension. What do we do?

- Restless with Roommates

Dear Restless,

Living with roommates can be difficult even in the best of times, so it’s certainly not easy during a global pandemic. First and foremost, make sure that you stay aware of your health and the health of those around you. To prevent the spread of coronavirus, wash your hands, disinfect surfaces, isolate yourself if you are ill and get outside (while socially distancing) as much as you can.

Second, communicate with your roommates to establish boundaries and expectations for one another. Sitting down with each other to talk about how best to survive the coronavirus is a great way to make sure everyone is on the same page. According to Talkspace, an online therapy company, it’s particularly important to discuss with your roommates how you plan to use and clean shared spaces, especially if you’re trying to get some alone time. Using your own spaces and getting outside to exercise while socially distancing are both great ways to escape constant contact.

Once you get a plan locked down, try setting aside a time every few days to discuss any issues that arise. Lunch or dinner could be a great time to ease tension and strengthen relationships. Talk, talk, and talk some more!

Dear Expie,

Do you have any good recipes for a newbie cook? The shelter-in-place means that I’ve been eating a lot of ramen in my house. I want to eat some actually good food, but I don’t know very much about cooking.

- Up-and-Coming Chef

Dear Up-and-Coming,

The good news is that there are plenty of online resources that can teach you a ton about cooking and provide a wide variety of resources. You don’t have to leave the house to learn how to cook. 

Online articles are a good choice if you don’t want to load up your phone with new apps. Food magazine “Bon Appétit” published an excellent online article titled “Cooking at Home in the Time of Coronavirus” with plenty of resources. “Good Housekeeping” did the same with an article titled “Homebound Hacks: A Guide to Cooped-Up Cooking,” and “Serious Eats” published an article called “The Coronavirus Cooking Guide.” You can also search for cooking apps. Some of my top free apps are BBC Good Food, Tasty, Food Network in the Kitchen and Epicurious. 

Social media can also be a great resource. Investigate the Instagram and Twitter accounts of celebrity chefs like Rachel Ray and Amanda Freitag to find great cooking tips and recipes. Check out the “Cooking” topic on Youtube as well. There’s tons of videos on cooking for a wide variety of skill levels, from basic to expert. The BBC also offers free online videos on a variety of topics on their Food page. Send the Exponent staff pictures on our Instagram page @msuexponent or email us ExponentOpinion@montana.edu when you finish up dinner!

Dear Expie,

I don’t want to wash my hands. I’m tired of being clean and saving lives. Can’t I just stop?

- Craving Filth

Dear Craving,

No. Please wash your hands. 

On a serious note, this is a grave virus, and we all need to do our part to stop the spread. Stay safe, be kind, and most importantly wash your hands.