I spent my summer interning in Long Island and exploring Manhattan. I was happy to leave the hustle and bustle of the big city behind and return to the bricks and columns of Christopher Newport University this fall. I’d continue to get my fix of art and culture in Norfolk at the Chrysler Museum or the Neon District but there was one thing my heart (er.. stomach) longed for, a great brunch spot.
My fading memories of avocado toast and fresh omelettes had almost turned to a misty memory when I stumbled upon Bryd’s Restaurant in Hidenwood shopping center. (Disclaimer: I’m sure I’ll regret sharing this gem with you all but it’s too good not to let everyone know) I had seen the new restaurant undergoing construction in August as I went on a quick grocery run at Food Lion. It looked like a cute little place but I was sure it was just some musty place that grandparents frequented, boy oh boy was I wrong.
During my first visit I dragged my brave sorority little with me to explore this unknown restaurant. With a mix of breakfast all day and delicious lunch items we were immediately impressed. She went with the eggs Benedict and I made my own breakfast sandwich, recreating my New York Brunch favorite croissant sandwich complete with avocado. Paired with fresh apple slaw my meal came to a whopping $7! Can you say balling on a college budget?!? Fresh delicious food and perfectly priced, my brunch dreams had come true. So impressed with my first time I had to make a second trip, taking my roommate and boyfriend with me, they were just as impressed.
As a college student, I’m typically looking to get great food for an even greater price. Bryd’s does just that. Only a five-minute walk from campus (if that) and you’ve got yourself a perfect brunch spot. Complete with a coffee bar, friendly staff and diverse menu, Bryd’s has become a go to spot for me, check it out next time the link in Commons is too long or your parents are in town, you’ll be hooked just like me!
One factor of residence hall life that I wasn’t expecting to experience was living in an octosuite. I met my wonderful roommate, Cydney, on the class of 2020 Facebook page in early January. We were both early-decision students and clicked instantly. As August drew closer we hastily coordinated our decor, making sure our room would be as perfect as any freshman room could be.
When room assignments officially came out, I immediately informed Cydney that our home for the next year was going to be 250 – 250 A. Originally, the letter after the room number was not enough clue me in on the fact that my room was different from what I was expecting. Only once I discovered a picture of the floor plan did I realize that our little room on the end of the hall seemed to have an extra room, almost like a hallway. Another close examination revealed that this hallway was connected to another room – with no door to separate the two.
After a bit of asking around, I found out that I was part of something called an octosuite. This meant Cydney and I would be sharing a bathroom with a pair of suite-mates as usual, and on top of this our room would be connected by a short hallway to another room with two people who in turn would also be connected by a bathroom to a pair of suite-mates. Together we formed an octosuite, something somewhat common in freshman residence halls.
Although I originally felt dismayed at the fact that I’d be sharing my perfect living space with extra people, I discovered after move-in that it was one of the best arrangements I could have been placed in.
As someone who is somewhat introverted and often finds themselves locked in their room writing, studying or watching unhealthy amounts of Netflix, residing in a living space that is very open has resulted in my making more friends and coming out of my comfort zone. My octo-mates Abby and Sarah have kept it lively, even in the dreary weather we’ve been experiencing lately. I know if I’m ever lonely or lacking something to do I have six people other than my own roommate to keep me company.
Another major factor that living in an octosuite has provided is always having access to commodities I may not have in my own room. On a basic level, there’s always the fabulous fact that if I’m running late and one of my suite-mates is in the shower that I can ask my octo-mates to use theirs. Genenrally, though, it comes down to the little things. Sometimes I want iced coffee, and my octo-mates always have ice cubes in their freezer. They also seem to have a limitless supply of food. Another great perk of this is that my octo-mates have a printer in their room. Their generosity in sharing it with us has saved me on more than one occasion over the past two months. Of course this goes both ways – when our suite-mates or octo-mates are lacking something, they’ll stop by to ask if we have it. Since we’re lucky enough to maintain a friendly relationship with all 6 of them, I’ve found that the answer is always yes.
Even though sometimes it can be a little hectic, being part of an octosuite has helped me to venture out, make many new friends and altogether embrace the college experience even more wholeheartedly.
One of the many marvelous aspects of Christopher Newport is our location. Being located in such a historic part of not only Virginia, but also America, proves very beneficial for off-campus day trips. Yorktown is about 20 minutes from here and offers an extensive amount of quintessential shops, local restaurants and a picturesque beachfront.
Yorktown (YT) Beach/Riverwalk Landing:
Beachfront: the two-acre shoreline is perfect to flock to right at the beginning of fall semester and then again at the end of spring semester with all of your friends for a stress free afternoon.
Ben and Jerry’s: it always a delight to end up in an ice cream shop but this is one of the highlights of YT especially during Ben and Jerry’s free cone day and the perfect addition to a beach trip.
Yorktown Bookshop: a local bookshop with a highly knowledgeable staff selling lightly used books from many different genres.
Water Street Grille: living in a coastal region, seafood is no longer a luxury but a necessity. With an all-around good atmosphere and diverse menu, this is perfect for birthday dinners as well as a nice place for your parents to take you when they visit.
Other fun spots around Yorktown:
Pops Drive-In: for over 50 years this restaurant has been in YT serving classic American dishes with small-town charm.
Yorktown Battlefields: for history majors and history buffs, the historic YT battlefields are where the Revolutionary War was rung victorious!
Yorktown Bowling: For a night of retro fun, grab a group of friends for bowling alley fries and a night of fun!
This corner of the historic triangle is a great destination for a quick trip to see the water and enjoy a break from study not too far from campus.
It’s midterm week at Christopher Newport, and that means my worst fear is coming true: I can no longer gaze happily at the unblemished list of As on Blackboard Scholar, put there by semi-easy work and simply turning in everything assigned. I am going to actually be tested on everything I have learned up to now, and I have to face the fact that I am entering one of the most dreaded weeks of college students everywhere.
However, I’m not panicking as much as I could be – and that’s because my science class had an exam last week as opposed to a midterm.
When I finally realized I was actually going to be taking my first exam of the year, my first reaction was to procrastinate and pretend it didn’t exist. I did that confidently until the following class period, when I was reminded of it and decided I really needed to get my act together. So, here are some survival tips on what to do when facing the crippling fear of an exam worth about 30 percent of your grade!
DON’T procrastinate. I started out failing on this particular account, but I still ended up devoting a large amount of my time to readying myself, starting about a week in advance.
DO read the textbook. I never did this in high school, but it’s a whole different story in college. This particular class didn’t even require the textbook and never assigned readings. On my own accord, I asked the professor which chapters correlated to the presentations and went ahead and read them through. This helped solidify what I’d learned in class and even gave me further detail on topics we hadn’t spent much time on.
DON’T assume the lectures prepare you for everything. Even after taking and reviewing notes on the lectures, I knew I was going to struggle since science had always been a difficult subject for me. Because of this, I made notecards for every new term we learned, along with some for every concept we dealt with. Between studying these everyday and taking the self-tests in the textbook, I found that I became far more comfortable with the lecture material and how the topics interacted with each other.
DO use outside resources. You’ll be told this time and time again, but go to office hours. When I got homework or self-test questions incorrect, I would write them down and meet with my professor to ask where I’d gone wrong and to help review the concept as a whole. If office hours are hard to get to or you’re still having a hard time mastering a topic, Christopher Newport has other great options such as free personal and group tutoring for any subject. Even if you’re working on a big paper instead of preparing for an exam, they also offer help in the form of the Writing Center.
Even though I got off to a rough start, in the end by devoting a lot of time and utilizing all my resources I managed to know most of the material on the exam and to feel confident about how I did afterwards. Thankfully my exam grade reflected how much work I put into preparing, and hopefully the same work ethic will get me through midterms!
When I first saw the door frame of my newly assigned residence hall room back in August, I was excited, nervous and almost every emotion in-between. I’d grown accustomed to the lifestyle that comes with having your own bedroom and bathroom, and hadn’t shared a room with anyone since I was nine years old. Now, I’d be sharing a room with someone I’d never met for an entire academic year!
I didn’t actually see my roommate until I returned from a family lunch and shopping run (coincidentally, he’d done the same thing slightly before I did). When I heard the voices of him and his family talking and unloading bags, the nervous feeling returned. We’d had brief contact over social media, but what if he was the total opposite of how he appeared? What if he’s a catfish, like one of those bad Tinder dates? I worried. What if he eats food that I’ve saved for myself in the mini-fridge? What if he leaves toothpaste and stubble in the sink that I’ll have to clean up, or throws his dirty laundry all over the floor? Or (worst-case scenario, in my mind) what if he steals my clothes or tries to re-sell my textbooks and jewelry on eBay?
Thankfully (to me and my massive skepticism), my roommate was even better than he seemed on Facebook and is one of the most accommodating and happiest (seriously, he’s always smiling, and he’s a hugger) people I’ve met in my life. We wore outfits with the same color scheme (red shirt, khaki shorts) the first time we met, which has slowly led to deeper similarities we’ve discovered (we’re both November babies and were born in the same hospital about two weeks apart). He always makes sure he’s not bothering me when he plays guitar (even though he’s incredibly talented, so it’s never a problem), doesn’t fight over fridge or dresser space, and has bought us a light-up jack-o-lantern (Jimmy) for Halloween. He’s even encouraged me to start going to the gym, and for some reason (despite my consistent sarcasm and dry sense of humor) he’s hoping to get on my “good side” and be roommates next year. Basically, I totally won the roommate lottery.
My expectations for a roommate were totally backwards, but in the best possible way. I was so nervous about how I’d adjust to living so closely with someone I barely knew, and in just over a month we’ve become fast friends. If you’re starting college next year and are worrying about the living situation as you fill out various applications, don’t stress yourself over it. Having a roommate can be the total opposite of what you might think (if you’re like me and were worried about that) and one of the best experiences you’ll have. I know as I venture into my twenties I’ll have more roommates (I want to live in New York, and apartment rentals aren’t cheap), but right now, this first one is pretty great.
Being a new student is a weird and sometimes scary experience, even if you’re one of over 1,200 new students. And now, only seven weeks into my first semester, I’ve experienced a lot of new things.
The Penny: While most if not all universities have an honor code students are required to sign, Christopher Newport takes it a step further by giving us a memento to remember it by. All of the freshman class stood together at Convocation (for the first and last time until graduation!) and received a brand new penny. We were told to keep it with us, and to be reminded of the honor code it stood for each time we saw it. On graduation day, we will get to throw it into a fountain as we gather with the rest of our class for the second and final time in our whole college career.
Ringing the bell: Part of our beautiful campus is the striking clock tower with a bell that rings every hour on the dot. After convocation, we were allowed the chance to ring it ourselves. This was another traditional first, along with another last until the day we graduate.
Freshman dessert with P-Trib: Yet another first and last until senior year, the freshman class was invited to have dessert with President Trible and his wife Rosemary at their house on the James River. It was an incredibly fun night full of amazing conversation (and food). When we are seniors, we will be invited once again – only this time for a champagne toast.
Grocery shopping for myself: To move on to firsts that are less glamorous and more frequent, I’ve had to shop for myself for the past seven weeks. I don’t have a car this semester, so that involves walking to the store, deciding what I actually need, and then carrying it back (a gallon of milk gets really heavy really quickly). It’s been strange to shop for my own food, along with medicine, toiletries and any other supplies I may need.
Eating dining hall food: This is definitely not a first that everyone experiences, but those who packed their lunch in high school will be able to relate. This is the first time in my life that all of my food has been prepared for me, and that I’ve had absolutely no control over what it is. As someone who has been the only vegetarian in their family for almost five years, I’m used to packing my lunch and often cooking my dinner. While the options here are varied and delicious, it’s strange to get used to the atmosphere and not having to choose what I’m going to eat ahead of time.
Getting lost in Forbes: I thought that this one was a joke when a senior told me it would happen, but they were right. I was talking to a girl I know during Welcome Week, and while on the topic of finding classes, she warned me about getting lost in Forbes. “Are you really a freshman if you don’t get lost in Forbes?” is what she asked. I was convinced it wouldn’t be that hard – and proved that to myself when I found my second floor class on my first try. However, a week and a half into classes, I was on my way to leadership when I realized I had no idea where I was. Turns out getting lost in Forbes is a right of passage.
Studying for five hours a day: OK, for me this should be more like “studying in general” because my studying was practically nonexistent in high school. But for the purpose of everyone else, I’ll assume most of the freshman here actually studied like I should have. When during Orientation our leaders told us we would have to make school a full-time job – implying that between classes and studying we should be devoting almost 40 hours a week to our classes – they weren’t joking. I was planning on studying enough to master the material and get good grades, but nowhere in my mind did that mean I would be spending around five hours a day with my nose in a book or going over notes. Well, it does mean that. Any so-called free time I have is immediately devoted to studying, and I definitely need it.
Leaving my “home” at 2 a.m.: This is definitely another unanticipated one. I won’t say I was never up past two in the morning, or even out past two in the morning, while I was at home. While it didn’t happen frequently, it definitely did happen. However, waking up at my house in Berryville never resulted in anything more than getting a drink or reading a book. When I couldn’t sleep here in 250A York River East, it occurred to me that I could honestly just get up and leave since there was no curfew and no one I was accountable to. I ended up walking around the Great Lawn aimlessly before sitting on the front of CNU Hall listening to classical music in a rocking chair.
Relying on email: I’ve never been bad at checking my email, but since move in day it has become a somewhat unhealthy obsession. Unlike high school, college professors use email to communicate with their students and use it frequently at that. I receive at least three emails from my professors daily, and then about half a dozen more from the school itself about activities or important notices. Now that I have a job and I’m a part of two clubs and one volunteering organization, I receive even more significant emails almost daily. Instead of Facebook or Twitter, the first thing I look at when I wake up is my email. Every time I check my phone or answer a text, I make sure to also check my email just to be sure I’m up to date on assignments, events, and canceled classes.
Living with 40 people my age: Perhaps this is the most obvious, but hall life is definitely different from anything else I have ever experienced. Coming from a family with six siblings, I thought I’d be prepared for this. I’m not. It’s strange but slightly awesome to have 40 people who have wacky sleep schedules and somewhat terrifying amounts of energy around you 24/7. By no means bad, necessarily, but most assuredly very different. Every time I think I’m used to it, something new and incredibly strange happens. The good news is, I’m learning to embrace it.