Category: student life (Page 1 of 11)

“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

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

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