Category: residence life Page 1 of 3

“One of the best decisions I have ever made” | Cloe Penner

I honestly don’t know ‘why CMU?’

Cloe Penner

I am an out-of-province student from Ontario. Since CMU is a small university, you might think it’s not heard of in other provinces, much less the world. You would be mostly correct from my experience. I had not known that CMU existed until my mama’s friend mentioned that one of her daughters went there. At that point I hadn’t even decided if I wanted to apply for post-secondary education yet or take a gap year. I knew that eventually I wanted to go and be the first person in my immediate family to go to university, but I had no direction for that desire.

My high school’s guidance counsellors had been breathing down our necks, encouraging us seniors to apply for anything, really, as long as we applied. Apparently in the last few years there had been a decline of students going into post-secondary education, and the guidance department had made it their mission to get that percentage up that year. As this was during the pandemic, I can’t say I’m surprised with that outcome.

Nevertheless, I applied to CMU and only to CMU, after researching possible programs and classes. Looking back, I would say there was a nudge there, as I never really second-guessed my decision to apply. I don’t really have a name for that nudge—it could have been God, or just a gut feeling. I knew that if I got in, I would have to move to another province, and while that was certainly daunting, it was very much a problem for future me. The fact that CMU was a smaller, Mennonite-founded school, and cheaper than almost everything in Ontario, definitely sold it to my parents. The process was scary, but listening to that nudge gave me a great beginning to a new chapter of life.

Obviously, I am now a student here at CMU, in my second year and loving it. The decision to move here, away from anything familiar, was hard; it still is sometimes. Now that I have a year under my belt, I can reflect back and say it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

The start of my first year was tough. It was hard making friends and settling into a whole new world, rising to a more challenging academic level and having my life so uprooted. That was when the doubt grabbed me. But living in residence brings the community right in front of you. Eventually I stepped out of my comfort zone and found confidence to make friends and develop a life here. That led to self-discoveries and the first steps to becoming an independent adult without my life and community back in Ontario, to really figure out who I am away from all the same influences.

CMU’s campus

Coming to CMU has given me a new perspective on life and changed my life quite literally and philosophically. The academics made me realize how much I love learning when it’s something I actually care about, and the classes are small and interesting enough to keep me engaged and on top of things. (That isn’t to say I don’t procrastinate. I am still a student, it’s part of our ramen-fueled bodies!) So that’s why I stayed. I found a place that feels like home away from home, that allows me to be who I am and be a student dedicated to something I enjoy learning.

Sometimes if we aren’t totally sure of what we’re doing, what’s going to happen, or if the direction we’re taking is the best one, the future has a way of surprising us. And then maybe that unknown future could be one of the best things that helps you become you.

Cloe Penner is a second-year Bachelor of Arts student, majoring in history.

Residence students turn the tables on “Progressive Snack”

Each September, CMU staff and faculty host a moveable feast called “Progressive Snack,” inviting students into their homes for food and fellowship. (Naturally, it’s a per-course affair.) This year, students organized to return the favour, launching an evening tour of residence hospitality dubbed “Regressive Snack.” All staff and faculty were invited to participate.

On February 13, those attending gathered in the student centre shortly before 9:00 PM where Residence Director Charlie Peronto split the merry band into groups. Each group was assigned a different route through the three residence buildings, along which, denizens of each building would receive the group and ply them for half an hour with tea, treats, and conversation.

Anyone who has ever lived in residence at CMU knows that “9:00 Snack” is the very best time of the day. Whether returning from evening classes or breaking midway through a long night of studying—but especially if both of these are true—Snack is the time for weary students to kick back, let their hair down, and relax with a taste of something sweet.

Further, in addition to much unabashed procrastinating, it is a truth universally acknowledged that the best bonding, the funniest jokes, and many of liveliest debates at CMU transpire over the crowded tables at Snack. In fact, people who know Snack argue it is among the best reasons for choosing dorm life. Thus, it comes as no surprise that students might hope to recreate a version of the Snack experience for those who teach and care for them all year long.

What a tour! On first floor Poettcker Hall we built Lego over double-stuffed Oreos, played pool, and took a tour exploring the endless ingenuity of dorm-room décor. On the third floor, we feasted on delicate arrangements of hummus, pitas, and sliced veggies, while apartment students regaled us about travels in the Middle East and all that they learned from their neighbours abroad. In Katherine Friesen Apartments, senior students treated visitors to home baking made with their very own hands while we chatted about religious diversity on campus and the different ways of praying that had been meaningful to each of us.

And all of this—you may not know how significant it is—all of this was done in February, just before reading week. “Regressive Snack” was touching, not only because students wanted to thank faculty and staff for their love and generosity by welcoming them into their homes. It was touching because, in the busiest, most trying month of a university student’s year, in the dead of winter when everything is harder, students who live at the best of times on significantly less than their professors demonstrated two of CMU’s core institutional commitments: modelling invitational community and exemplifying truly generous hospitality.

The new widow’s mite is a double-stuffed Oreo.

Beth Downey is a CMU staff member.

What you’ve heard about CMU? It’s TRUE!

Shpeel (definition): slang often a sales talk or pitch; to speak, usually at length, to present a position or rationale for some course of action or belief on the part of the listener(s).

If you’ve ever been to a CMU Open House or Campus Visit Day, or have even witnessed one in action, you’ve heard the classic “Come to CMU” shpeel.

“The class sizes are SMALL. There’s a wonderful sense of COMMUNITY. Marpeck Commons is NEW and WONDERFUL and FULL OF SUNSHINE and GOOD COFFEE.”

Chloe kickin' it on the bridge
ready to spheel

I’m here to tell you that the shpeel is true. No lies here. As someone who’s given tours of this beautiful campus of ours, I’ve heard these words come out of my mouth many, many times. So many times that sometimes I start forgetting why I’m saying them. Sometimes they sound too good to be true. And then I take a look around me and remember.

For what we have to offer, CMU is grossly underrated. So I’m going to keep doing my shpeel until everyone knows why I love this tiny university of mine.

1) The class sizes are SMALL

Studying with friends in the sun

Some of my favourite classes have been the one’s with the fewest people in them. I like to think back to my Creative Writing Poetry course, where I’d meet with eight of my classmates twice a week to share our poems and critique them together. I produced some of my best work in that class, and I know for a fact that my poems would have sounded a lot worse if they had been written in a lecture theatre. The faculty to student ratio is 1:18 (even for first and second year students). You really get to know your professors and classmates, and I think that those close relationships have encouraged me to do some of my best academic work.

2) There’s a wonderful sense of COMMUNITY

Fun with friends

I remember my first day on campus. I was nervous, stressed out of my mind, and knew almost no one. That all changed when I went to my faculty advisor meeting. We sat in a small circle, ate pizza, and before there was any discussion about classes or schedules or academics, we learned about each other. 15 minutes into my first day, and I was already part of a little community where I felt welcomed and supported. There are students in that meeting that I’ve never had a class with, but I still know their names and we say hello to each other on the way to our separate classes. Walking across campus and not stopping to greet a friend or neighbour is almost impossible, but it’s the BEST. It sounds cliche, but CMU is my home, and the people here are my family.

3) Marpeck Commons is NEW and WONDERFUL and FULL OF SUNSHINE and GOOD COFFEE

folio café coffee with a book

Facts. Marpeck Commons was opened in 2015, and it was entirely paid for by donors, nothing came out of students’ pockets (there goes that community spirit again). It houses CommonWord (CMU’s book/gift shop, that also sells perogies and noodles, of course), folio café (amazing coffee and friendly baristas, and featured in an article called “15 Winnipeg Coffee Shops You Should Go To At Least Once In Your Life”, but I prefer to go everyday…), CMU’s library (spacious tables, comfy reading chairs, floor to ceiling windows, and sweet librarians: what’s not to love?), as well as a public learning space for the community to gather and have public conversations. Oh, and it’s got a cool bridge that goes over Grant Ave. (cheers to keeping warm while crossing the street!). It’s a place you can spend hours in and not want to leave.

There’s a lot more I could tell you about CMU. I live here. I learn here. I grow here. So I’m going to keep on giving my CMU shpeel until everyone I know (and even people I don’t know) sees CMU the way I do.

If you’d like to experience CMU for yourself, I encourage you to stop by during our Open House on Wednesday, March 26 from 10:00 AM
3:00 PM. I’d love to give you my shpeel in person.

– Chloe Friesen, 2nd year Communications and Media student

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!”


“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

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