Category: student life (Page 1 of 11)

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

Seasons: Are You Living in the Now?

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing…” -Ecclesiastes 3:1-22

Seasons. Each season brings a different flavour and atmosphere to our life. Like seasons of the year, each season of life holds positives and negatives. The beauty of the colours and smells of autumn also contain a chill and darkened evenings. Summer provides hot sun and luscious greenery, but mosquitoes are also a reality. We must choose what we will dwell on. How can one enjoy skating in the winter when all they can think about is swimming in the summer? Lately, I have been reflecting on my first year of university at CMU and the way that I experienced that season of my life. 

Anna Richard - Season: Are you Living in the Now?

It was somewhat of a wild year. In April, I finished a very busy first year of pre-nursing studies. Like any full-time, first-year student, there was so much to juggle and constantly keep up with. Having homeschooled for my entire previous education, I found that I was continuously just trying to prove to myself that I could indeed succeed, pass exams, handle labs and attain the grades I wanted.

For both the fall and winter semesters, I lived and breathed being productive. There was always another assignment, lab report, exam and so on. Every available evening was spent studying until I sleepily packed lunch to take with me when I would wake early to bus to school in the morning. However, there was also a lot of positive and wonderful things that I experienced during this time. As the year went on I made close friends with whom I shared much laughter, tears, and inside jokes. I navigated new and exciting relationships. I have many memories of being exhausted and uncontrollably laughing when I wasn’t supposed to during Wednesday night chemistry labs.

During that season of life, however, I spent a lot of time focusing on everything I didn’t like about being busy with school. I felt over-stimulated, longing for the day of my last exam when I would finally be DONE with the studying and stress. I would repeatedly think, when I’m finally done this year and working a summer job, then I’ll truly be able to enjoy life. When I can finally spend my evenings the way I’d like to, I’ll feel balanced again. When I no longer have the stress of assignments, life will be much brighter and hopeful.

And now my summer is coming to an end. I’ve been working at my two part-time summer jobs, and I’ve had lots of free evenings with plenty of time to myself. Guess what? Even though I have enjoyed the freedom and joy of feeling less pressured, I’ve often had moments of experiencing boredom and a lack of meaning. Some days I have felt somewhat lonely and empty even though I have been able to see my friends often.

I have filled my extra hours with activities I enjoy such as gardening, playing guitar and reading. But I have still felt a bleak sense of aloneness. Instead of taking advantage of the rest and recuperation this season brings, I have found myself at times focusing on the parts I don’t like. I have caught myself thinking about future times that will finally “make me happy”. I’ve even started looking forward to the busyness of my second year of university.

Anna Richard - Season: Are you Living in the Now?

Then the Holy Spirit gently reminds me about the beauty of living in the present moment. God is with us in the now. If we spend each season of life looking forward to the next, we completely miss out on the opportunity to embrace the gift of this moment, the beauty of now. When we choose to acknowledge the struggles of the seasons we’re in and embrace the joys, we can become aware of the signs of God’s presence that are only visible to one who is conscious of the present.

Here are three strategies that I’ve found helpful to living in the present, and I invite you to apply these to your daily life as you begin your year at CMU:

  1. Everyday, find at least three things that you are truly grateful to God for in this time of your life. This sounds quite cliché, but honestly, do it. Write them down or thank God for them out loud.
  2. When you catch yourself thinking ahead about a time you look forward to, acknowledge the thought and place it in God’s hands. Remind yourself to focus on what you’re experiencing right now.
  3. If you’re really struggling with the season of life you’re in, tell God. Tell him all the things you don’t like about it (he can take it!). But then thank him for what he’s doing in the situation, even if you don’t know what that is. Thank him for the good he’s going to make of the struggle.

As you enter in to this year of university, I invite you to embrace the present moment in this season of your life. This year may seem stressful and overwhelming, but I promise you there is much beauty to be experienced at this time in your life. This time of stress, hard work, and yet amazing community will never repeat itself in the same way.

Anna Richard is entering her second year of Pre-professional studies in Nursing at CMU.

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