Tag: back to school (Page 1 of 2)

3 things I wish I’d known: Advice from a first year CMU student

Nicole Ternowesky

“Do you have to wear a skirt and bonnet there?” “Are you allowed to listen to music and watch TV?” “Don’t you have to be a Mennonite to go there?” These were some of the questions my shocked friends and families asked last year when I told them I’d decided to go to Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) in the fall. Once I had reassured my family that I was going to an open-minded, welcoming, Christian university, I began to wonder what life at CMU might look like for me. Below is some advice I wish I had known before coming here, and I hope it will help you prepare all you prospective students for your first year at CMU.

1) Your faith will be challenged and nurtured.

Coming to CMU, I thought I knew ‘enough’ about the Bible, the creation story, Exodus, birth of baby Jesus, and His death and resurrection. I wasn’t prepared to read or discuss the tough stuff in the Bible, like violence, oppression, and pain. Often your Bible and Theology courses will leave you with many questions to wrestle with. But CMU is also a place that will nurture and strengthen your faith. As you grapple with these difficult truths, you will have the opportunity to worship God and experience his presence in new ways. Some places where my faith has grown is the prayer room on north, the Chapel on south and in the Poettcker Hall first floor lounge. Addressing the questions that threatened to weaken my faith in God actually helped me to deepen my understanding and relationship with Him.

2) Community is valued and promoted at CMU.

It is very important to participate in the fun events that are planned for the first week of school. This gives you an opportunity to meet other students and make new friends. At this early stage in the year, everyone will be feeling awkward, so don’t worry! I was very nervous coming to CMU that I would have difficult making friends, but I am now in a Snapchat group chat with 20 of my closest CMU friends. But honestly, I have made a some true friends here at CMU who have become like sisters to me. I now believe what people say about forming friendships at university that will last a lifetime.

Nicole Ternowsky - A student slides down a slip and slide during CMU's GO Olympics!

3) Now for the most important part: school.

My first piece of advice is to put yourself out there! Seriously, your professors will notice and remember you. CMU is unique because there is much more opportunity for class discussion and debate due to the smaller class sizes. My second piece of advice is choose classes, projects, and essays you are interested in, because when paper season comes around, you will be exhausted, but you will have learned about material you care about and have gained knowledge you can use in the ‘real world’. My last piece of advice is to invest in a good agenda or day planner. Seriously. Organization is key in university because it allows you to schedule enough time for studying, while still making time for friends, and other events at CMU.

At CMU you will grow as a Christian, a friend, and an intellectual. Looking back at my first year here, I am extremely grateful for the opportunities I’ve had at CMU, for new friends I’ve gained, and for my growing relationship with God.

Nicole Ternowesky is completing her first year at CMU.


CMU’s next open house is happening on March 27, 2018. Drop in and find out if CMU is the right place for you after high school!

On the Court and in the Classroom: A Challenging Transition

Growing up in Morris, Manitoba just south of Winnipeg, I was involved in sport starting in elementary school. I participated in many school sports, but invested most of my time in basketball, playing competitively from grade five until grade eleven.

Jess Edel - On the Court and in the Classroom: A Challenging Transition

In grade ten, I began playing club volleyball, and continued into my graduating year. It was then I decided volleyball was the sport I wanted to pursue further at the University level.

Transitioning from high school into university has been a challenge on and off the court. On the court, the level of volleyball is an adjustment. We practice 3 times a week along with fitness once a week.

Having practices so often and league games every weekend takes time away from studies. This makes juggling homework and volleyball difficult. Though being a student athlete has its challenges, it’s helping me develop good time management skills.

Jess Edel - On the Court and in the Classroom: A Challenging Transition

Another benefit of being involved in team sports is the sense of community that develops. Your team starts to act as a second family. They always have your back, and if you ever have a problem, they’re willing to listen and give feedback.

Being on a sports team has made the transition from high school to university much easier, creating opportunities for new friendships.

When I first came to CMU, I was skeptical of what university life was like. Being part of a new environment where you don’t know anyone, while trying to get to know the campus can be extremely intimidating.

However, being part of a sports team at CMU has given me a way to get to know other students through my teammates. All of the sports teams are relatively close too, so I’ve been able to connect with students on the other teams as well.

In high school, I relied on the Bible verse Philippians 4:13 to encourage me whenever I felt like giving up.

Jess Edel - On the Court and in the Classroom: A Challenging Transition

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength,” reminded me at many low moments that I can do all things, especially through the power of Jesus Christ. This scripture has continued to encourage me in life at CMU, both on the court and in the books.

The classes are larger, the professors are tougher, and the assignments are longer. This adjustment is hard for everyone coming out of high school, and can be even more challenging coming from a small, AA school in Morris, with 400 students attending from K-12.

It can seem intimidating and has its challenges, but I believe that with determination, hard work, and a strong faith, anyone can do it. If it weren’t for my amazing teammates, coaches, and peers, adapting to university life at CMU would be far more challenging.

Jessica Edel is a first year student, and member of the CMU women’s volleyball team from Morris, Manitoba.

Home Sweet Home: Why You Need to Visit CMU

If you’re looking for a post that tells you that I first encountered CMU on a campus visit day and fell in love at first sight, you’ve come to the wrong place. I grew up a 10 minute drive east of CMU, so to be honest, I can’t even recall the first time I laid eyes on CMU’s campus. Thanks to countless church picnics, sports camps, and the CMU CastleChristmas concerts that I attended on the campus as a child, I felt at home by the time I went to visit the campus as a prospective student, let alone my first day of school as a student.

So what about those of you who didn’t grow up within a stone’s throw of the castle? Or what about those of you who aren’t familiar with the campus? Well, no matter where you go to university, you’re going to want it to feel like home. So if CMU is on your list of potential school’s, it’s best to become familiar with it and make it start feeling like home.

It doesn’t matter if you’re planning to come to CMU for one year or five years; your university experience will be infinitely better if the school you go to feels like home.

That obviously pertains to residence students who spend all of their hours on campus. But that also includes commuter students too. Having commuted to CMU for four years, I can say from experience that you’ll still spend most of your waking hours at the school.

visit CMU the Library

But making a university a home has to do with more than just finding a place you like to be. You should also feel at home in the classroom and with what you are studying.

Part of that will come with getting used to university classes, but part of that comes with choosing a program that is fit for you. There’s no better way to find out about what programs are offered at a school and what they’re like than by going there and talking to the people who teach the courses, and the people who are taking the courses. At a small university like CMU, that’s no issue, and you’ll get a great sense for what the programs are all about.

But often it is the people you become close with that make a place feel like home.

AlexSo how are you supposed to know who you are going to be spending your time with before your university experience starts? Well, for the most part you won’t. But visiting a campus and making connections with the people who are there before you even get there will help you start to create that circle of people that will be around you when you start attending university. Or at the very least, they will be the people who will get you settled in to find that group of people that will help you create a home at your university.

So why visit CMU? Well, you’ll get shown the school, and the residence buildings. You’ll learn about the programs offered, and what might fit for you as a student. You’ll probably even get to sit in on a class. You’ll definitely meet staff and students along the way too. Those all seem like pretty good ways to start turning CMU from a university into a home.

Jason Friesen is our lead blogger, and is in his final year of a Communications and Media degree at CMU.

How One Step of Faith Led to a 600 km Walk

Leading up to the summer of 2017, I could never have anticipated the depth of transformation I would experience, and the alteration this would have on my daily life as a young, white, settler student, and as a Christian.

Colin Remier 2

As I prepared to work over the summer, Erin Froese (a fellow CMU student, and previous #myCMUlife blogger) planted a seed in my mind at a screening of the documentary film Split Lake last Spring, about entering the Indigenous-settler conversation more intentionally through the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights.

While I thought little of it at first, God pulled me in. After consulting with some of my spiritual advisors, I took a leap of faith and committed to the entire walk: 600 km from Kitchener to Ottawa.

Did I know what I was getting myself into? Was I prepared for God’s new, transformative path, of which he had begun preparing me for? Could I have anticipated being who or where I am now, from who I was and where I began last spring?

The answer? No.

With great joy and exhilaration I walked; learning along the way, first hand, what it meant to be an Indigenous ally, to walk the path of reconciliation, and what the struggles have been like for our host peoples over the past 150 years of colonialism. 

Colin Remier 3

Engaging with people of faith and walking day after day, I found a deeper connection and passion growing inside me for the pursuit of justice and reconciliation, believing even now that the church belongs here.

As I developed relationships with specific people such as Leah Gazan, Steve Heinrichs, and MP Romeo Saganash, this personal drive grew exponentially. 

Along the way, I contacted my parents and asked about my grandfather’s work with the Indigenous communities of Manitoba, and came to learn that my ancestry traces (at least partially) into the Indigenous community of The Long Plains. Recognizing that I am the grandson of honorary Chief White Cloud, and that indigenous peoples’ value ancestry very highly, I committed to reignite the reconciliation work my grandfather had begun back in the 1970’s.   

Colin Remier 1

Following the completion of the Pilgrimage, I found myself planning, but in a type of limbo as if waiting for some guidance as to the direction I should go. While developing a list of actions surrounding the Pilgrimage and Bill-C262 had been simple, taking initiative to provide local education and support in my hometown of Boissevain, Manitoba (Treaty 2 territory), proved to be quite challenging.

However, after several meetings with my pastor, various conversations with fellow Indigenous allies, as well as suggestions from mentors and my parents, I pushed hard for action in August. Since then, I have begun planning possible citywide events with Kerry Saner-Harvey of Mennonite Central Committee Manitoba around a variety of Indigenous issues, particularly those surrounding Muskrat Falls. 

Through the editorial assistance of a few individuals, I wrote and had an article published in the local paper, the Boissevain Recorder, where I discussed the relevance of the Pilgrimage, and the essential importance of Bill-C262 being passed. I have also become a Fellowship Group leader, leading a group on the study and discussion of Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry, a book that tackles church-indigenous relations.

Last, but not least, since the latter half of the Pilgrimage to now, I have become an activist on social media lobbying for the Bill, for Indigenous Rights, and for the positive change that can and is happening.

Colin Remier 5

While I am back at CMU, I continue to lobby and participate in various actions surrounding Bill-C262, and am excited for the future of where this new path may take me. It is here that I have found truth to the phrase, “the joy of the Lord is my strength.”

I found joy on the Pilgrimage, and in discussion and writing over the summer, and I continue to find joy and see God’s grace in the love and community that I have returned to for another year at CMU.

Colin Reimer is a third year Psychology major at CMU.

A year of living monastically

Sarah Moesker, a year of living monastically

I spent this past year living with The Sisterhood of St. John the Divine [SSJD] is an Anglican, Benedictine-style monastic community located in Toronto, Ontario.

The Sisters are an open community, welcoming people to join them for their chapel services, occurring four times daily, typically followed by a silent meal. They run a Guest House ministry, providing a quiet place for a variety of individual and group retreats. Some Sisters also provide spiritual care to the patients at St. John’s Rehabilitation Hospital next door to the convent.

The Sisterhood of St. John the Divine [SSJD]

“Why,” you ask? Now that is a great question!

Truth be told, I think I was beckoned to the convent by a God who called a timeout on my somewhat floundering efforts to do life.

God was like, “Yo, Sarah…” and there was a bunch more, but I had some trouble hearing it. I did manage to catch the gesture toward SSJD when I found myself pensively gazing, back and forth, between two things: a feeling of “You are not returning to CMU next fall” in one hand, and the emptiness of the other hand. 

Seated in the ambient sanctuary of St. Benedict’s Table’s evening service, the list of songs and announcements found its way into that empty hand, and I came across an advertisement from SSJD, calling young women to join them for a year. I sat holding those two things in my hands for the next two weeks, though the setting changed sometimes. Cue the cataclysmic word: Yes.

As for what I learned, in Mere Christianity C. S. Lewis offers a perspective on what it is like to let God into one’s life, where the life is the house and God the renovator:

At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of.”

So I guess I learned pretty quickly that there was a lot more on God’s agenda than on mine.

I learned a lot about how prayer is not just a thing one does but a way one lives. I thought, “oh la dee da, I will just go there and learn how to pray more regularly”. God responded, “Your whole life is a prayer. Come; let me show you how to be attentive to that reality.” Stepping into contemplative prayer has been like coming home to myself—the way God intended me to be, on my own, in prayer, and in relation to others.

Picture22

Through simply living the lifestyle of the Sisters, I also learned things about self-compassion, time-management, self-discipline, and the healing mystery of having structure. I developed a better sense of what a balanced life of prayer, work, leisure, and rest feels like—now I just have to remember to apply it.

There was also the healing experience of living in community, which normalized a lot of the elements of socializing and relationships that used to provoke tremendous anxiety.

Another area of growth and learning was my work as a Spiritual Care Provider at the rehabilitation hospital next door, visiting patients and helping out with the services in the hospital chapel. This experience provided some insights into not only the sort of work I would like to do but might also be good at.

These inchoate learnings are some of the things I will be taking back into my life as a student at CMU and into the community I will be living in this next year. 

Sarah Moesker returned to CMU this fall for her fourth year of a Biblical & Theological Studies major, with a minor in Psychology.

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