What to do When You’re Sick

When you apply for colleges and start getting ready to move out of the room you’ve lived in since you were little, the last thing on your mind is being sick away from home. Honestly, you’re far more nervous about how you’ll transition or deal with separation or time management or even just classes. To tell you the truth, one of the most difficult things about your first semester is that you’re probably going to get sick. A lot.

Getting sick is the inescapable truth of college. You’re going to be living with 40 other people, who interact with easily 100 people a piece each day, who then come back do your dorm sweet dorm. Once one of your hall-mates catches something, you’ve got a good chance of catching it from them.

I spent my first month of college cycling through every illness imaginable – I seemed to catch everything everyone on the hall picked up. Amazingly enough, my roommate somehow managed to live with me, take care of me and not pick up any of the illnesses. So, here’s a list of things to do to prevent getting sick and to do if you do become sick.

  1. This one is obvious, but wash your hands. Wash them before you eat, before you touch your face, before anything. If you’re by a sink, wash them. You’re sharing a campus with 5,000 people and therefore you’re sharing all of their germs.
  2. Actually take your vitamins. Find a great multi-vitamin (just have your parents send you some) and take it every day. Make it a part of your morning or evening routine.
  3. Sleep. Please, please sleep. Not only is this going to help you in practically every area of your life – academics, social interactions, etc. – but it will keep you from getting sick or becoming even sicker than you already are.
  4. If your roommate is sick, do what mine did – walk to a nearby store and buy some sort of germ-fighting spray and take the time every day to wipe down the surfaces of your room. It’s a simple, five-minute chore that truly helps you from catching what even the person in your own room has.
  5. Tell your teachers. Get a feel for whether or not what is happening in class during the week would be dire to miss, and gauge how they feel about you missing a class or two. Sometimes the best idea is to not push it.
  6. If your teacher’s response to number 5 is positive, get ahead on homework. Read the online materials posted for the class you missed, take notes, start working away at projects and essays and knock out any homework that you have the ability to do. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later.
  7. Finally, eat a lot of soup. I’m a vegetarian, so unfortunately this doesn’t apply to me, but Regattas has chicken noodle soup at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Take advantage of this, and feel blessed that you have this option. It’s the ultimate sick-food, right?
  8. Tis’ the season for the flu, so remember there’s always the option to get your flu shot! You can usually get this for free, so if you’re not opposed to it, go get it before the flu gets you.

Have a great week, and stay healthy!

Getting Hyped for Hoco

My high school was obsessed with homecoming (as most high schools are). Spirit days, which those of us on student council planned, were eagerly participated in with the hopes of winning the spirit stick in the Friday assembly. Christopher Newport University may not have spirit days, but it does have insane amounts of spirit and a Captain’s Cup organizations can win.

Homecoming week is something of legend here at CNU, with alumni flocking in to visit and watch the homecoming game. Even though the game is a great way to end the week, the events leading up to it are what build all the energy and excitement to bring us together.

During the week, different organizations can sign up to compete for the Captain’s Cup. The group who wins this becomes the face of Christopher Newport, so as one can imagine it is a highly sought-after position. To win this, the organizations compete in many different aspects throughout the week in an attempt to prove how deserving they are and end victorious.

So far, we’ve had homecoming court reveal on Monday, which is when Class Council finally announce the candidate for homecoming king or queen. Tuesday really hit the ground running with the homecoming kick-off where candidates campaigned in the plaza. The night ended with an incredibly hyped-up event called “Yell Like Hell” where each competing organization wrote a 30-60 second chant to yell from the steps of Christopher Newport University Hall. A large portion of the school came out to support their friends and the great organizations, and even President Trible made an appearance to watch the creative chants. Wednesday marks the presentation of the spirit signs – huge 4-foot by 4-foot boards decorated by each competing organization – and a night of improv along with the opening of the voting on the Compass. On Thursday the organizations will compete in various field games on the Great Lawn to continue culminating points, and finally on Friday there will be celebration events such as Glow In The Darcapella put on by all a cappella groups on campus and Midnight Madness, hosted by Student Assembly.

Saturday will be a grand celebration, with a parade and of course the homecoming football game. Best of all, the winners of the Captain’s Cup will be announced along with the crowning of the new king and queen. Until then, the student body will be avidly participating in the upcoming events and showing just how much spirit they really have as Captains. Follow along at #CNUHC16!

My First College Football Game

As someone who went all-out senior year of high school in terms of supporting the football team, I’m honestly very surprised with the fact that this past weekend marked my first college football experience. I’ve never been a fan of professional football, and before my final year at high school I had no interest for that form of football either. However, when senior year came around, I became a photographer for the yearbook and was tasked with going to the first few games. I don’t quite know when it happened, but by the time the first three home games had been played (and won!), I was hooked. I attended almost every game of the season, even if it wasn’t a home game. When our team attended states, I even woke up at 5 a.m. to ride five hours on a bus full of cheerleaders to take picture at the final game.

I figured that college would be similar – I would attend every home game and follow the team closely. Unfortunately, until last weekend other events such as Student Assembly delegation improvement workshops and huge amounts of homework have led to me missing every home game.

During family weekend, one of the events offered was the home game. Since my only commitment that day was to be with my family, I offered up the idea that we should attend the game. I didn’t have to ask my parents (especially my dad) twice, and soon we were in the bleachers cheering on our team. I had high hopes for the game, considering our great record for the year.

The game began very competitively, with both teams staying neck and neck. However, the second and third quarter presented an upsetting situation – the opposing team was one touchdown ahead of us, and it had been a stale mate for the longest time. In fact the only highlight in that half of the game was the amazing Marching Captains and their halftime show. I was floored at their precision in their routine, along with the quality of their music. Best of all, I got to see my suite-mate/close friend Svetlana perform for the first time all semester!

Just when I started to think we were doomed to losing and that the final quarter would be dull, our team started performing better than ever and scored a touchdown. This happened in the last few seconds, and took the game into overtime. In fact, what started out as a boring match ended up in a neck and neck, extremely competitive game with double overtime.

In the end our team triumphed, bringing the incredibly intense game to a satisfying end. It was a fantastic first college football game to attend, and I can say with even more devotion that I am proud to be a Captain.

The First Visit Home

The strangest feeling I experienced in the process of leaving my residence hall to head back to the little town of Berryville was when I was packing my clothes for the weekend. When I moved in, I brought all of my clothing with me. While preparing to go home, I realized that this meant I would have to pack outfits for every day of fall break. This concept was incredibly weird for me. Any other occasion that I’d packed up clothes for had involved my leaving Berryville, not going back to it.

Of course, the oddity of the situation wasn’t anything nearly substantial enough to stop me from being excited about my first visit home. In fact, I was so excited that the four-hour drive didn’t bother me at all. My whole family had stayed up to wait for my arrival, and seeing them for the first time since I’d moved in was amazing. All of my little siblings seemed a whole lot taller, and they all have a million things to tell and show me. Somehow, all four of my little sisters ended up sleeping in my room that night.

Other than spending a lot of time with my family, I visited a couple of friends who had timed their visits home to sync up with mine. I got to see my good friend from Kent State in Ohio who I’d been in high school with. It was interesting to see how different things were for her, which gave us both tons of stories to share. I was also lucky enough to see my best friend who is attending George Mason University. It was her birthday, which gave us a chance to explore my little town and visit the new coffee shop that was built during my absence. I was surprised with how much my small town had seemed to change in only a couple of months.

The last thing I did on my first visit home was to stop by my old high school. Although I’m not close with many people who still attend there, I have good relationships with lots of my teachers who contributed a lot of effort and support into helping me become the person I am today. I stopped by my old yearbook class and learned about their new theme and got to look through some pages of the in-progress book, and once school was out I dropped by all my favorite teachers. It was great to be able to thank them yet again and to see how their year was going. However, it seemed like even my school had changed quite a bit. About 10 new teachers had been hired, and one of my favorite teachers from the year before had left to pursue higher education.

Leaving home to head back to Christopher Newport University was bittersweet – I missed everyone on my hall and was excited to continue my classes, but I knew I’d miss my family, friends and town. All in all I had a successful first visit home, but now I’m ready to jump back in and concentrate on working towards finals until Thanksgiving break rolls around! I know I’ll be looking forward to heading home once more and discovering even more changes.

Life in an Octosuite

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.

How I Survived My First Exam

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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!

10 Freshman Firsts

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

A Campus That Cares

Even as a student who cares very deeply about the environment, grew up recycling, and supports all efforts to go green, I can say that it honestly never crossed my mind that a campus that cares about the environment could be one of my qualifications for choosing a college. It just so happened that Christopher Newport snatched up my heart – even without the knowledge that I now have about all their efforts to go green and support sustainability!

The first time I realized CNU was environmentally friendly was the first time I took out my trash during Welcome Week. Instead of there just being a single dumpster, I saw the familiar dark blue recycling bin. As I became more accustomed to the campus and its buildings, I realized that there were actually recycling options almost just as frequently as generic trash cans.

This thought was next encouraged when I realized that a Thursday afternoon Farmers Market was hosted weekly. I was surprised to find that it wasn’t just a couple of tables – there were small local businesses represented who handcrafted their goods, and a large variety of them! One stand sold fresh fruit and vegetables while another sold jams and sauces, and others sold homemade jewelry or soaps or baked goods.

It wasn’t until I became a part of the Student Life Committee of Student Assembly that I realized just how invested my university really was in being environmentally conscious. In my first meeting, I discovered that Student Assembly has been working closely with CNU’s Sustainability Coordinator Ryan Kmetz (also head of CNU Green) to push a sustainability agenda that has recently made huge amounts of progress. Some results of their proposals are recycling bins that can be checked out and utilized for on-campus events, garden plots that students could reserve near the beginning of the semester, water efficient sinks, favorable parking spots for energy-efficient vehicles to encourage their use, three bicycle repair stations, and signs on all the drainage pits that spread awareness of the fact that what is poured down them exits straight into the bay.

But they don’t plan on stopping yet – already, new ideas are being born as to what can be improved. The next step will hopefully be introducing energy-efficient lighting to the academic buildings, adding more garden plots, and even possibly constructing a green house! Thanks to a yearly sustainability survey and the help of Student Assembly, CNU Green’s efforts are more closely along the lines of what the student body is hoping to see.

Being a part of such a forward-thinking campus makes me all the more proud to be a student here. I’m incredibly excited to see what has been accomplished by the time I graduate in four years, and I’m happy that I’m going to be able to play a part in it.

The College Transition

When I started my first semester here at Christopher Newport, what initially hit me was that it was nothing like I had expected it to be. The reality of college was far from what I’d dreamed it would be while planning my graduation party, shopping for matching decor with my roommate and receiving college acceptance letters.

I believe I’ve narrowed this discrepancy down to two things: emotions, and the incredible difference between high school and college.

When I was preparing to move into college, I assumed my first week would be the happiest of my life. I assumed I would be incredibly excited, and that the overall experience would be really relaxed. Turns out, watching my family leave was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Thankfully, as most things do, it has gotten better with time. I’ve adjusted to this new normality, and am enjoying everything college life has to offer. As for college being relaxed – well, it is anything but that. I don’t think I’ve ever been so busy in my life. Again, I’m learning that that is also not at all a bad thing.

On top of the emotions I expected to experience being completely out-of-whack, I’ve realized that the gap between high school and college is even bigger than I’d thought it would be. In high school I found it simple to maintain A’s, half a dozen extracurriculars and two part-time jobs without experiencing high levels of stress. I never cracked a textbook, never studied for a quiz. Academics came naturally to me, and I didn’t expect it to be any different when I officially became a student at Christopher Newport. Well, I’ve come to the realization that the only way you can have excessive free time to do whatever suits you is if you either completely put off your classes, or refuse to join any on-campus organizations.Only six weeks in, I’m lucky if I spend one hour a day on the various clubs I’m a part of. The rest of my time is heavily devoted to my classes, homework and the continual cycle of studying.

Although the transition from high school to college has been anything other than what I’d expected, I’m learning to love it. Even though the reality of it is nothing like I’d dreamed, I think in some unexpected way, it’s even better.

A Look At the Semester

Looking back over my first semester not only at Christopher Newport University, but also at college in general, I have noticed quite a few lessons that I will be taking with me into the spring semester

  1. It’s OK to cry a lot. If strange experiences make you cry, this relates to you. If being sick away from home makes you cry, this relates to you. If stress makes you cry, this relates to you. You will cry a lot, but the great news is that you feel so much better once you’ve cried it out.
  2. You won’t get along with everyone. You’re going to have classes where you absolutely want to tape shut the mouth of the individual next to you. You’ll be in organizations where someone just doesn’t want to be your friend. That’s OK – you’re on a campus of 5,000 people. Don’t let the people who don’t appreciate you bring you down.
  3. Make flash cards for everything. Literally everything. And then practice them three times a day. Or four or five. Flashcards helped me get a final grade that brought my B to an A. Take notes on flash cards, if you want to save time. I learned that at the end of the semester, after transferring 40 pages of notes onto a 150 flash cards.
  4. Accept the failures you encounter. You aren’t going to ace every test, every group project, every essay. You aren’t even going to get a B on every test. You may meet the day when you celebrate getting a C. There will be days when you just aren’t prepared, and there will be days when you feel prepared and get surprised by your grade dropping two letters. Learn to be prepared for it.
  5. Don’t let you failures control you. Likewise, don’t assume there’s nothing you can do about your failures. An A can make your grade jump right back up in the other direction. So can talking to your professor to help you understand the material on a deeper level.
  6. Even if extra-terrestrial life is out there, our race will likely be extinct by the time they contact us back. This is the most interesting fact I learned from my astronomy class, which was somewhat sad and somewhat relieving. At least we know we won’t have to experience a real-life “Independence Day.”
  7. You will have a go-to meal, and eat way too much of it. Life gets stupid busy, and you’ll start taking time out of activities you deem less-important to add time to what you consider more important. For me, this meant having a go-to meal of rice and salad. While being surprisingly delicious, those items are also in the shortest lines in the cafeteria. Unfortunately, your go-to meal will likely end up being what you eat all-day every-day on busy weeks.
  8. Appreciate down time when you have it, because chances are you won’t. The thing I’ve experienced least at Christopher Newport University is time to relax, which is disappointing considering there is a beach 20 minutes from my room. However, that’s what will happen when you get involved and are devoted to your academics. So when you have down time, appreciate it. Don’t waste it on your phone, or sleeping.
  9. You don’t need a lot of people, just find that one person who is there for you. People who focus on having huge social circles usually end up feeling alone because of how surface-level their friendships are. Don’t feel lonely because you have only one or two friends. Just focus on finding that small group – which might even only be one person! – and growing lasting relationships that won’t change the minute you live on different halls.