Category: student life (Page 1 of 11)

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

I Counted (Almost) Every Christmas Tree at CMU

There are approximately 131 Christmas trees on CMU’s campus.

Let me repeat that: there are approximately 131 Christmas trees on CMU’s campus.

 I know this because I counted.

I counted because I love Christmas trees (and I needed a break from studying for exams).

I love Christmas trees because I love Christmas, and I love CMU because CMU loves Christmas, too. If CMU was a movie character we’d be Buddy the Elf, spreading Christmas cheer by singing loud for all to hear (which is basically the entire premise of Christmas at CMU, right music students?).

Today I decided to indulge the Christmas-loving child inside of me. I put down my books and walked the halls of both north and south sides of the campus, sipping a peppermint mocha from Folio Café and adding a mark to my notepad with every shimmering tree I passed. Why I decided to count, I still don’t know. Maybe I wanted to acknowledge the existence of every single tree, big and small. Maybe it was an incredibly creative act of procrastination. But these trees certainly took me on quite the adventure.

Christmas Trees at CMU
I know that Christmas isn’t only about Christmas trees, and that counting Christmas trees won’t help me get a better grade on my New Media exam, but I do know that with every tree I passed my heart grew a little lighter and my childlike anticipation returned for a moment. I thought of the people who put hours into placing these trees around campus, decorating them with such care and spirit. I am so grateful for these trees. They remind me of the beauty of December in the midst of academic chaos. They remind me, over and over again, why I have such a love for this school.

There are approximately 131 Christmas trees on CMU’s campus, and I know this because I counted.

 – Chloe Friesen, 2nd year Communications and Media student

Why Facemasks and Bubble Baths Aren’t #SelfCare

“I’ve been so stressed out this week!”

I hear myself make this complaint on an almost weekly basis, you probably do to. And then enters the quintessential, but thoughtfully caring response of…

“Make yourself a cup of tea! Watch some Netflix! Put on a facemask and take a bubble bath! Plug in some twinkly lights! Practice some self-care.”

Self-care is a very unbeautiful thingThe concept and aesthetic of self-care is a beautiful and “Instagram-worthy” thing (#selfcare, you’ve all seen the hashtag, maybe you’ve even used it once or twice…), but I’ve been starting to wonder: should it be? Tea, Netflix, facemasks, bubble baths, and twinkly lights are all wonderful things that no doubt promote some aspect of relaxation. But some part of me believes that true self-care can’t be this easy.

It was an article by writer Brianna Wiest that piqued my skepticism.

“Self-care is often a very “unbeautiful” thing.

 It is making a spreadsheet of your debt and enforcing a morning routine and cooking yourself healthy meals and no longer just running from your problems and calling the distraction a solution.

 It is often doing the ugliest thing that you have to do, like sweat through another workout or tell a toxic friend you don’t want to see them anymore or get a second job so you can have a savings account or figure out a way to accept yourself so that you’re not constantly exhausted from trying to be everything, all the time and then needing to take deliberate, mandated breaks from living to do basic things like drop some oil into a bath and read Marie Claire and turn your phone off for the day.

 A world in which self-care has to be such a trendy topic is a world that is sick. Self-care should not be something we resort to because we are so absolutely exhausted that we need some reprieve from our own relentless internal pressure.

 True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from.

 And that often takes doing the thing you least want to do.”

– Excerpt by Brianna Wiest from This Is What ‘Self-Care’ REALLY Means, Because It’s Not All Salt Baths And Chocolate Cake

Self-care is not bath salts and chocolate...For me, self-care is making an appointment with my therapist to talk about the tough stuff going on inside my brain. It’s setting an alarm on my phone to remind myself to take my medication. It’s picking that pile of laundry up off the floor and then washing, drying, and folding it. It’s confronting my stress head-on, not staring at a screen to numb it.

It’s far from beautiful and far from being “Instagram-worthy,” but it’s miles closer to actual “care” than a facemask and bubble bath will ever be.

So here’s to true self-care: the unbeautiful, difficult, and worthwhile thing it really is.

– Chloe Friesen, 2nd year Communications and Media student

Jerseys, London Fogs, and Green Chairs: The Beauty of Rituals at CMU

I’m sitting in Marpeck Commons (Folio Café, specifically) glancing out the lofty windows at the green-to-golden leaves that frame the stately castle on the north side of the campus. There’s a perfectly poured vanilla latte in my left hand and a pencil in my right. I’ve got a reading from my Art of Worship class spread out on the table in front of me. It’s discussing the beauty and importance of rituals, and I’m beginning to realize that my study sessions in this space, with a cup of coffee in hand, are a vital ritual for me throughout the school year.

Due to my Art of Worship course this semester, I’ve been dwelling on the concept of rituals. The significant actions and behaviours that I repeat week after week. These small actions make CMU feel like a space of my own, and add comfort and structure to my busy days. Today I began to wonder, what are my CMU rituals? Here’s the list I quickly compiled…

  • Ordering a half-sweet vanilla latte from Folio at the beginning of a long study sesh, and then taking a photo of the latte because I’m a millennial comm-student (and because the baristas at Folio have some serious latte art talent)
  • Stopping for a conversation with Charlie Peronto, CMU’s Residence Director, as I pass by his office on the way to my apartment. “What’s the word?” he asks. Maybe the word is “Gilmore Girls”, his adorable pup Rigby, how classes are going; anything!
  • Fall walks through the Assiniboine forest with my roommates, marvelling at the colour of the leaves and the sound of the songbirds, and enjoying a short reprieve from our books.

These are some of my beloved rituals I take part in at CMU, but I was interested in what my classmates had to say as well. Here are some of their sweet and quirky rituals they shared with me:

Ryan WaschukI wear one of my many sports jerseys on Fridays to men’s chorus!

  • Ryan Waschuk, Music Therapy Student (1st year Music Therapy, 3rd year at CMU)

 

Joycelyn OforiMy CMU ritual would have to be keeping myself busy after class in Marpeck every Tuesday afternoon. Or buying a London Fog from Folio before my morning lecture!

  • Joycelyn Ofori, Psychology Student (2nd year)

 

Marnie KlassenAs a commuter, I spend a lot of time studying in Marpeck Commons. I always go for a green chair if there’s one available.

  • Marnie Klassen, Interdisciplinary Major (3rd year)

As we go through the various academic “seasons” that come with a university experience (projects, readings, midterms, exams, performances, travel) it is comforting to rest in these rituals. To do them consciously and mindfully. To drink that London Fog slowly, to lay out that sports jersey every Friday, to seek out that green chair in the library.

So here’s to our rituals, to the actions that make CMU a place of our own!

– Chloe Friesen, 2nd year Communications and Media student

Can an Introvert Enjoy Living in Dorm? A Personal Reflection

In my final year of high school as I was weighing my options for post-secondary education, I distinctly remember telling my friends and family:

“I will NEVER live in a dorm room.”

I was (and still am) an introvert. I thrive on time alone in my room, with schedule, structure, and control of my surroundings. Dorm life sounded like the opposite of all these things that I loved and held so tightly onto. People everywhere, a multitude of different schedules all in one space, shared control of public spaces, and a lot of unknowns; it didn’t sound very appealing. This isn’t to say I didn’t like people or making friends, but the introvert in me knew that I needed plenty of time on my own to recharge and take care of my mental health. To me, living in a dorm room surrounded by strangers for an entire year sounded terrifying.

ACS_0057Now, take this girl and imagine her moving into Poettker Hall in the fall of 2017, and then again into the Katherine Friesen Apartments with TWO roommates in 2018. My high-school-self would have fainted. As it turns out, a lot of the opinions and beliefs I had about on-campus life turned out to be misconceptions. Imagine that: a high school student having misconceptions about the future and the world around them. I’m sure that’s never happened to anyone else…

If I could have a conversation with the dorm-skeptic that I was in high school, or anyone questioning the positives of living on-campus, this is what I would have to say:

1.) Alone time is good! Loneliness is not.

IMG_9431It’s natural to crave time to yourself. This is time we can take to reflect, practice self-care, and relax. But, spending all of your time alone is not healthy. I managed to create a fine balance of taking time for myself and stretching myself to have conversations and hang out with people outside of my room! It came as a beautiful surprise to me when a floor-mate would knock on my door and invite me to do something or go somewhere and I would respond with an eager “yes!”. Now, I didn’t say “yes” every time, but I found that the more connections I made with the people around me, the easier it was to feel at home in the space I lived in.

2.) You’re going to make new friends, but you don’t have to be best friends with everyone.

IMG_8727Making new friends is great, and I encourage it! But I don’t encourage devoting all of your time to forcing a close friendship with everyone in your dorm building. You’re going to need some time to study, too. Friendship is something that comes naturally. You’re not going to ‘click’ immediately with everyone on your floor, and that’s okay! Making an effort to connect with the people around you is a great start. There is no dorm-life rulebook that says you have to know the favourite colour of every single person on your floor or anything like that.

3.) Letting go of control is OKAY!

ACS_0096Sometimes all of the shower stalls will be full, and that’s okay! Sometimes someone on your floor will practice their clarinet while you’re studying, so you’ll pop in some headphones or head to the library, and that’s okay! Sometimes you won’t write down “impromptu yoga-party in the first floor lounge” in your agenda and one will occur anyways, and that’s okay! Sometimes you’ll stay up later than you expected to, sitting in the hallway with some people who used to be strangers but are now more like sisters, talking and laughing while telling stories, and that’s okay! It’s wonderful, actually.

So, to my dorm-life skeptic high-school-self: it may come as a big surprise, but you’ll end up living on-campus and loving it. It’ll have it’s ups and downs, but with each of them will come growth and lessons. You certainly won’t become an extrovert in any sense of the word, but you’ll be able to call your university campus “home”, and that’s all you’ll need.

– Chloe Friesen, 2nd year Communications and Media student

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