A Procrastinator’s Guide to Practicum | Guest blogger: Christina Waldner

I had always thought of myself as responsible and all that entails: hard-working, self-motivated, and self-disciplined. My conscientiousness was even seen in the way I limited myself to two Friends episodes in a row to avoid the embarrassment when Netflix condescendingly asks, “Are you still watching Netflix?” (For all of you binge-watchers out there, you’ll be happy to hear I am now a reformed limiter and have been asked this question on several occasions.)

However, I was recently taken aback by the realization that I had fallen victim to the tricky tactics of procrastination. I really did not see it coming, but there it was. How did this happen?

Cristina WaldnerTo better understand my surprise, let me add some context. I have been a student at CMU off and on for the past 12 years. Because of my physical disability, I have only been able to take one or two courses at a time, slowly chipping away at my BA. I struggle a lot with fatigue but have poured myself into every assignment, partly due to pesky perfectionist tendencies and partly for the sheer joy of learning. I have loved my time at CMU, feeling nothing but support and encouragement from faculty and staff. But when it came to my practicum, I felt panicked.

I have actually dreaded the practicum requirement since Day 1 of attending CMU. I have never had a traditional job before and practicum would be my first real taste of what adulthood will look like. For me, there were so many tedious, and sometimes scary, details to consider:

  • Full-time or part-time? Definitely part-time.
  • Work outside the home or from home? Hopefully from home.
  • If that doesn’t work out, is the workplace accessible? Like, totally accessible?
  • Would my attendant come to work with me? Possibly but would it be weird to have an attendant with me in a cubicle?

Hustle picI won’t bore you with more details but this really was just the tip of the logistical iceberg. These thoughts swirled in my mind for about a decade. It wasn’t until my transcript read,  “111 credit hours completed“ that I knew I had run out of time to procrastinate. (I even chose to participate in graduation this past April before I did my practicum!)

When I met with my practicum adviser last year to start planning my practicum, I came to the meeting with a glimmer of hope and a bundle of anxiety. I was so nervous to start the process of finding a work placement with how little physical abilities I had to offer.

Well, to my absolute amazement the meeting went remarkably well! In a short amount of time, huge progress was made in terms of figuring out the logistics of my placement.

So, what for 10 years had been holding me captive had now been set free. I was dreading this process for so long, feeling that the stakes were too high and my abilities too low to have success. But now that I’m here, it’s not as hopeless as I thought.

On September 23, 2018 I officially started my practicum at Society for Manitobans with Disabilities (SMD) and I am thrilled with how it’s going so far. My supervisor has been wonderful and it has been exciting to have an opportunity to explore my passions for disability services, writing, and advocacy. Now that I am in my second term, it is amazing to me how manageable life can seem when you have people around you who want you to succeed.

This is not to say that I am magically problem-free. There are still harsh realities I face every single day being a person with a disability. However, I have learned three valuable lessons during this process that make these realities a little less daunting:

  1. People are kinder and more gracious than I thought. They are more willing to accommodate my unique needs and even find a way to make me feel like I have something to offer.
  2. God is more in control than I thought. He is kinder and more loving than I gave Him credit. He only wants the best for me, so I don’t know why I put His abilities in a box by thinking my circumstances were too much of an obstacle for Him. My Jesus has got this.
  3. Procrastination might seem cool on the surface but it is really just fear masquerading in skinny jeans. Putting responsibilities off and avoiding the inevitable only feeds the voice inside of you that tells you the cost of showing up and trying is too high. Don’t believe the lies!

If I would’ve known these truths 10 years ago, I would not have let the fear of practicum rule my thoughts and actions.

textbookSo, what is something in your life you have been dreading that gives you that pit-in-the-stomach feeling of anxiety at the mere thought? Maybe you are wanting to apply to university but feel intimidated by the work load or maybe you are planning your own practicum but don’t know where to begin. Or maybe you are going to be graduating from CMU soon but feel you have no idea where to go from here.

Well, I am here to tell you that it might not be as insurmountable as you are expecting.
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*Adapted for #myCMUlife from “Breathe In, Breathe Out” originally posted on Beautiful, Complicated Life.

Cristina Waldner is completing her practicum requirement after finishing her studies with a 4-year Bachelor of Arts in Counselling Studies, and a 3-year Bachelor of Arts in English.

“Boy Talk” – A Focus on Male Friendship | Guest blogger: Isaac Schlegel

Male friendship has variously felt irrelevant, desirable, disappointing, and simply confusing to me through my life. In the lonelier years of grade school, it was something I wanted on paper, but in practice talking with boys was marked more by aggressive posturing or thick layers of irony than a sense of connection. Girls were by far preferable, though spending too much time with them would result in shouts of “Wheels!” from any boys in the vicinity. (Needless to say, this was before I would have even considered coming out as bisexual.)

At CMU, I have had many fruitful and boy talk 2beautiful friendships. The vast majority of these at first were again with women, though the context here is much more hospitable to relationships across gender. Despite living in the residence among other men, however, I still found I rarely formed good connections with them. A few other guys were feeling similarly, and so we decided to get together and do something about that. Enter: the Boy Talk.

“Boy Talk,” a willfully ridiculous name that has proven unshakeable, formed nearly a year ago. At the time of writing, it has stabilized as a closed group of 11 male CMU students who gather on a semi-monthly basis to hang out and discuss their lives confidentially. So far, it has been a space for ridiculous photoshoots, board game playing, deepening trust, and giving voice to the accumulated joys and hardships of our lives.

I always worry the idea of a gender-segregated discussion group may give the impression of some anti-feminist or exclusionary stance, as though there is some lack of male-dominated spaces that needed to be filled. In truth, the residence where most of our members live has a degree of gender segregation built into its geography, and our intent is not isolationist. I did not join this group to privilege my male friendships, but rather to bring them up to the standard I have experienced in friendships across gender, which by and large had to that point been far more genuine and trusting.

boy talk 3Boy Talk is not a place where I go to run from the complexity of gender. Rather, it is a place where I plunge headfirst into the work of finding my place in its complexity, not in some abstract intellectual way, but through the practical effort of literally putting myself in the presence of other men and opening ourselves up to each other. Even though our conversation is only sometimes about masculinity directly, the very exercise of talking in a context of safety and trust has allowed me to reflect on how I present myself as male, and how I relate to others doing the same thing. At its very best, Boy Talk has been a communal sandbox for discovering smarter, healthier masculinities.

Recently, Boy Talk was asked to be interviewed in the Canadian Mennonite. This idea surprised us initially—Boy Talk is a small, private group with small, private goals. It didn’t seem to necessarily merit the attention of a broader audience (though we may have admittedly courted such attention by changing our public profile pictures to a matching group photo.) We ultimately went through with it, though, in the hopes that we might serve an anecdotal purpose—one example of how men might deal with loneliness and a lack of connection. Fighting unhealthy masculinity requires men to not only re-evaluate their relationships with women, but also consider what they want from themselves and each other. Male friendship continues to confuse me, but working through that confusion has brought me a better understanding of both my friendships and myself.

Isaac Schlegel is a third-year student double majoring in Philosophy and Biblical and Theological Studies.

Hope and Inda – Roomates From Across the Globe (part 2)

Part 2 – Inda: A Day in the Life

(Alarm goes off)

I open my eyes, get up, and sit on the bed. My eyes are barely open and I am hoping the cold air is going to wake me up.

“You can’t miss anatomy, Inda. I know you are thinking of it. You cannot. C’mon!”

Why does someone need to know me this well? I mean it is just anatomy and I have never missed it before. But… I could use my first missed day for an actual emergency. Isn’t this an emergency though, sleeping as much as possible?

“Inda, stop trying to justify your missed day. You need to start getting ready.”

“I know, I know, Hope.” (I groan). “Why do they make us study the most difficult subject this early, anyways?”

“Such is life, Inda!”

“Wait, what are you going to do?”

“Some Netflix… maybe yoga…”

“I hate you!”

“Don’t worry child, my suffering shall come!”

I finally opened my eyes. For some reason, I kind of like my face in the morning. It is fairly puffy, yet nice. Music, this is what is missing (I turn on my favorite song).

“Hey Hope, good morning by the way! How are you feeling today?”

“I don’t know… I think I need to stop ordering food at 3:00 in the morning. I keep waking up super bloated!”

“I feel you! My stomach is in the verge of starting a war with me. But we couldn’t finish that movie without pizza… I know you loved it!”

“Yeah yeah, but I still have to finish my essay for Kenton! I officially give up! I mean, how can I write a whole essay about a book called “Escaping Education”, if in essence I am going through education by writing this essay! Wow, I actually sounded like you.”

“I know, I should have recorded it (I laugh). You are very good with essays though, and if you’re stuck you can always ask for help!”

“Thanks! Anyways, aren’t you late for class?”

“Yep, I need to go! Love you!” (Door opens and closes quickly)

(I return to my dorm after a day of studying).

I enter the room to a Tanzanian love song. How do I know this? First, it is really soothing. Second, I can hear the ‘nakupenda’, which, as Hope told me, means ‘I love you’ in Swahili. And thirdly, Hope has her romantic face on. She is so romantic it makes me hate romance. I love how she can randomly imagine a wedding in its every detail, while I struggle to picture tomorrow.

Oh, she is writing. The essay is finally being written! Yes! Maybe I’ll make her some tea…

“Hellooooooo Hopeeeelllaa! How was your day?”

“Hmm, it’s been okay. Anatomy was pretty tough, and I studied for most of the day. How was your day?”

She looks at me and closes her laptop.

“I studied all day too!”

“So what I am hearing is: we both need a session of Netflix and food!”

“Hopppeeee!”

“It’s okay! We will make sure to watch only one episode and be super productive afterwards… oh and we will pray to God for comfort of mind!”

Next thing I know, I find myself doing just that and being happy, and as I close my eyes… thousands of miles away from home… there is a girl just as far away from home as me on the other side of my room, and strangely enough, I am happy when she is happy.

“Good night Hope! I love you!

“Night Inda! God bless!”

Inda Piroli is a 3rd Year General Sciences Major from Albania

Hope and Inda – Roommates from Across the Globe (part 1)

Part 1 – Hope: A Family Down the Hallway

I believe international students experience dorm-life differently from Canadian students. And while the majority of it has been amazing, there are some parts of it that have been less than.

My fellow Canadian students are blessed to have family nearby who they can run to when student life gets frustrating. Time and time again, I’ve watched students vacate their dorm rooms to spend the weekend over at their families’ and my roommate and I are left with an almost empty hallway filled with silence.

Inda and HopeMoreover, while I have adjusted well to the food on the meal plan, I do remember past years where I had to force myself to eat food that I was not accustomed to. Fast forward to today, I actually enjoy the cafeteria food! Who would have thought? Regardless, Inda and I still spend most of our money on “SkiptheDishes” (more than we would like to admit).

However, there are numerous advantages I enjoy about living in dorms. One of my favorite things that I love about living in dorms is in accordance with CMU’s mission statement: COMMUNITY. Aside from my roommate, we have a tiny community right outside our room in the hallway.

My best memory of dorm-life is from my first year at CMU. I was the only international student in my ‘hallway community’ and I had prepared myself to be an outsider. Can you blame me? Being the only black girl, from a completely different country, with a different accent and a different idea of ‘fun’. I was no stranger to wandering eyes and blank stares trying to understand me before, so why would this time be any different? Boy was I wrong! The CMU community within our hallway became my Canadian family. We had weekly meetings that each had their own fun surprises (thanks to our Residence Assistant at the time), study dates in the lounges, movie nights, lots of dance parties, etc. Before I knew it, we were so close that we had our own special table in the cafeteria—a bit extreme maybe, but that is how close we were. Truly the best experience I’ve had at CMU so far.

Map of Inda and Hope's countriesBut wait, there’s more! Tons of activities/events get you out of your room and engaging with other human beings. Dorm activities range from themed tea parties to playing (mostly harmless) pranks on each other. I speak for all university students when I say that it’s extremely easy to get caught up in the hustle of school and work. Finding time to relax and enjoy university life becomes difficult. Having RA’s and dorm-room friends that hold you accountable or even drag you out of your room to participate in ongoing activities is refreshing and much needed.

Furthermore, living in dorms allows me to learn from others while giving me a chance to teach others about my cultures and my individuality in a more personal environment where we learn to understand and accept our differences. I cannot count how many times I sat with a group of people basically giving a tutorial about the trials and tribulations that is my hair and vice versa. I’ve come to find that staying in dorms gives me the ultimate and rich university experience.

Hope Mwalugaja is a 4th Year International Development Studies Major from Tanzania

New Year, New Study Habits

Welcome to winter semester, CMU students and friends!

Hopefully you’re feeling refreshed after three weeks of home-cooked meals and reading for fun, and are ready to dive into some new classes! But, let’s face it, the beginning of a new semester can be stressful. You’ve just arrived back on campus after your Christmas break, digging through your backpack for that pencil you *know* was there last semester, and you’re leaving every class with a pile of syllabi filled with information and due dates. Eek!

With the help of some friends and classmates, I’ve compiled some tips on how to survive thrive during these first few weeks of the new semester!

Sit down with those syllabi!

OrganizeIt can be overwhelming to receive SO MUCH information over the course of your first week back at school, but putting it in a different perspective can make all the difference. Once you’ve attended all of your classes, take a moment to collect all of your syllabi and sit down with a calendar or day-planner. Transfer all of the important dates mentioned in the syllabus (tests, assignments, presentations, etc.) into your calendar! Seeing all of these dates and “to-dos” spread over the months of the semester will help put you at ease and keep you organized. You can do this!

Say hello to your new professors!

say helloMany of us will be learning from familiar faces this year, but if this semester you’ll be learning from a professor you’ve never had, make sure to introduce yourself! A quick “hello” and “I’m looking forward to this class” at the beginning of the semester will go a long way in encouraging further conversations with your prof. The lovely faculty here at CMU are here to help you, and they love to hear your questions and stories!

Do some “winter cleaning!”

clean upHey dorm and apartment folks, this one is for you! Everyone talks about “spring cleaning,” but tidying and organizing your space at the beginning of the winter semester can help give you a fresh start. Make a space for your important books and papers, do that pile of laundry from last semester, let some light in, and maybe put up that new puppy poster that your grandma got you for Christmas (thanks Grams). An organized living/study space will encourage an organized and focused mind!

So let’s get a head-start on this semester, and have some fun while we’re at it!

 – Chloe Friesen, 2nd year Communications and Media student

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