"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,

College has been really hard for me. I miss my family, friends, and dog back home more than anything. Bozeman is so different from where I grew up, and it’s tough to acclimate to a new place so quickly. Everyone else seems to be doing great in college, but I just wish I was back in my hometown. What do I do?

-Homesick in Hannon

Dear Homesick in Hannon,

First, I promise you that everyone in college feels homesick at one point or another. We’ve all called our parents in a flood of tears, stared sadly at photographs of family and friends in our residence halls, or traveled for hours just to see the people we left behind. Thankfully, we live in the year 2019, and there are plenty of options to alleviate your homesickness. Try setting up a time to FaceTime, Skype, or call your family or friends each week. That way, you’ll keep up with all the news back home, and you’ll feel a lot less lonely. 

Next, get involved in Bozeman! The people who deal best with homesickness are those who work to make their college feel like their new home. If you like volunteering, MSU hosts Service Saturdays where you can give back to the community. If you prefer social events, join Residence Hall Council and make a difference in your hall. You could even join one of the dozens of service clubs at MSU and work with others to help out the Bozeman area.

Lastly, connect with some people in your residence hall. Be genuine and admit that you’re struggling with homesickness. The people around you are dealing with the same thing, and they might have even more tips and tricks for you.  Even if they don’t, you’ll make some new friends, and those connections will help MSU feel more like home.

Dear Expie,

How do I make friends in college? No one seems to spend time in my residence hall, and I don’t know how to join clubs or where to meet new people on campus. Everyone already knows someone else, and they’ve all joined friend groups. How can I stop being the odd one out?

-Lonely in Langford

Dear Lonely in Langford,

The best advice I’ve ever received about loneliness is simply to go up to someone and say hello. While this may sound overly simplistic, it is an effective way to start meeting new people. You can talk to the person sitting beside you in your biology lecture, reach out to your roommate, or chat with one of the friend groups that have already formed in your residence hall. Even if people seem like they already have a close-knit group, there’s usually room for one more. There are also many, many student organizations on campus to meet new people. From French Club to Smith’s Metals Guild, there’s something for everyone. Check out the full list of student organizations here: http://www.montana.edu/engagement/organizations/explore.htmland pick something that you’re passionate about. Finally, reach out to your Resident Advisor and ask them for help. Chances are that there are plenty of hall events coming up where you can meet lots of new people. 

I’m also going to give you a difficult answer to your question. Sometimes you won’t make friends for a while. You might not even grow close to people in college until your second year. In the meantime, work on yourself. Spend time doing the things that you like, even if you’re doing them alone. Learn to be comfortable by yourself, and you won’t feel nearly as lonely.

Dear Expie,

I hate my roommate. She throws late-night parties in our room, makes a ton of noise during quiet hours, and steals my food and drinks. I’ve tried dropping hints to her that she needs to clean up her act, but she just ignores me. How do I deal with her?

-Unhappy in Hedges

Dear Unhappy in Hedges, 

In situations like these, sometimes you have to be blunt. Stop dropping hints and get straight to the point. Tell her that she is treating you poorly and not following roommate rules. Outline exactly how she needs to change her behavior. Don’t be rude, but use firm language and tell her that you’re not budging on these problems. 

If she’s still crossing the line, get your resident advisor involved. Tell them what’s going on and ask for a meeting. They are trained to confront situations like this, and they will have the appropriate tools to help you with your roommate situation. If your roommate still isn’t responding, your RA will know how to take the issue to a higher authority and get the problem resolved.

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