Christopher Newport is an explosion of learning, creativity and friendship. The campus is small and the students are friendly, but as an introvert, it is sometimes exhausting to be surrounded by peers 24/7. My freshman year, I lived in an octosuite, which is four connecting rooms with eight people total, and I was constantly surrounded by people.
I quickly learned the value of having time alone to breathe and regroup. I realized that by asking my roommate to keep the room dark at certain times for napping, and by dedicating in-between class time to relaxing alone, I was able to energize without compromising social time. It’s all about balance and knowing what your body needs.
Some people need more alone time than others, and everyone’s reactions to busy college life are valid. I love dedicating my early mornings to brewing a cup of tea and meditating by myself. I love my friends as well and have rare moments of flapping my social butterfly wings, but knowing I can take the time to slow down and have private space is irreplaceable.
My return from winter break was reluctant, punctuated with melodramatic sighs and complaints about my incoming course load. I dragged my three giant suitcases into my residence hall on East Campus, already picturing all the unpacking and reorganizing. My tan from traveling abroad would fade into blinding paleness, and soon my room would be littered with textbooks and color-coded notes. Before cracking open my suitcases, leering at me with large zippered smiles, I went over to my window and looked out over Warwick blvd. The sky was icy grey, stretching cleanly over a glittering campus. I could see the distant gold dome of CNU Hall, and the Freeman center’s classic brick frame. Someone on the sidewalk beneath me screamed in delight as she embraced her friend. Everything was fresh and snowy and new. The front door clicked open, and I heard my roommate (and best friend) hauling her luggage into the living room. My stress melted away in my gorgeous snowy school, in the bustle of Warwick blvd, in the hug of my roommate as she listed off her new Christmas presents. Maybe I wasn’t quite ready for school to start, but I was home.
My freshman year at Christopher Newport, I decided to sign up for Ballroom Dance Society. I wanted a challenge, something to push me to the edge of my comfort zone. My initial idea of ballroom dancing involved glamour, dramatic tangos and skirts that would fly around me in a perfect circle as I spun. My first lesson involved dancing in jeans, a T-shirt and polka-dot socks to an upbeat swing, surrounded by 20 or so students. The instructor who came to teach once a week would teach us a move and then have us dance it in pairs.
I was initially terrified, having no dance experience and being exceptionally good at face-planting. But the older students encouraged me to have fun regardless, and coaxed me out of my shell. I began to open up to my new family, thanks to their guidance, silliness and ardent love for dancing. Jump to today, and I am still an active member of the club, and now one of the more experienced dancers. I love getting the opportunity to encourage new students and help them find their passion for ballroom. I love going to dance competitions in other states, and bonding with the CNU club while meeting new ones. And more than anything, I love that one day our newest, shyest freshmen will one day be leading the club, teaching people to love dance. The circle never ends. And even when I graduate, leaving my beautiful school and ballroom family behind, I will never stop dancing.
During my sophomore year, I was working for CNU TV and pitched the idea to film a story on the newest building on campus, Christopher Newport Hall. The building in all its gold dome, marble staircase glory would make a stunning news clip. My videographer was content to take the viewer on a brief tour of the offices, but I wanted to push further. I emailed the vice president of the school, William Brauer, and asked if he would allow us access to film the fifth floor, inside the dome. To our shock and delight he agreed, and even gave us a personal tour.
Talking to him was incredible. He was kind and gentle in nature, asking my videographer and I about our personal CNU stories. He was genuinely interested in hearing our feedback about the school, and his passion about his career sparked something in me. Pride, excitement, whatever it was only grew as we climbed up a winding staircase behind a locked door on the fourth floor. We entered a white spherical room flooded with natural light. Windows panned 360 degrees, showing stretches of sunlit and campus in every direction.
In one direction was the Trible Library and if I turned my head I could see the brick and graceful white columns of the David Student Union. Farther back, I could see the academic halls surrounding the Great Lawn. It was a breathtaking panorama of everything I had come to love about the school, colorful bursts of red brick and emerald grass all bathed in light. As I tried to nonchalantly wipe away tears, muttering lamely about allergies, the vice president met my eyes and smiled kindly. “I agree,” he told me, warmth matching the sun streaming in from the windows. “I agree.”
While Christopher Newport has been recognized as a best-value college, we all know college can be tough. Whether you’re working through loans, boosting your resume or saving for that really cute pair of shoes, it never hurts to have a little extra money in your pocket. CNU has so many fun on-campus jobs to apply for! Here are just a few:
- Ever wanted to learn how to make your favorite Starbucks drinks like a pro? Become a barista at Einstein’s! In this fun and fast social setting, you’re trained to make everything from a frappuccino to Einstein’s signature creamy milkshakes. It’s a great way to chat with other students while you’re serving them, as Einstein’s provides a caffeinated social hub.
- Do you bleed blue and silver? If school pride is your specialty, apply to be our mascot Captain Chris! Pump up crowds during sporting events, and even get the opportunity to travel with CNU’s teams. If you have lots of energy and are great at engaging people, Captain Chris is the perfect choice.
- If you love spending time outdoors and getting your hands dirty, Ferguson Center for the Arts harbors a secret garden nestled in between corridors. I am currently the gardener and get paid to prune, weed and sweep away my stresses in this magical little place. Fresh air does wonders for the soul!
- If you’re a bookworm and live off the smell of inked pages and brewing coffee, you should work in Trible Library! The space is hushed and beautiful with a gold dome and cascading staircases. You can help students check out books, work the front desk or even help out in IT services if you’re good with computers.
- Do you like writing? Plot twist, so do I! That’s why I write weekly blogs for the Office of Communications and Public Relations (OCPR). I get the amazing opportunity to shed some light on what it’s like to be a student at CNU. I also get to help with CNU’s student social media, which is fun and a great resume boost! If you want to share your voice with the world and help prospective CNU students find their paths, the OCPR is a wonderful platform.
Freshman year, I lived in an octo-suite in York River Hall with roommates who hated cleaning as much as I did. We vowed that we would clean once a month, and to reward ourselves for being competent adults we would throw a tea party afterwards. The cleaning portion of the plan tanked, but we quickly became inseparable friends bonding over our love of tea.
Halfway through the semester, one friend joked that we should start a tea appreciation club and name it “TNU.” We stayed up late that night creating a constitution which included more sarcasm and tea puns than substance. We refined it the next morning when we were less giggly and turned it in for approval, still more as an inside joke than anything else.
Jump to three years later, and TNU is still a fully functioning if not thriving tea appreciation club. Around 15 to 20 of us meet every few weeks to drink tea, play tea-related games and unwind from a stressful week. All because one person had an idea sparked by personal passion and a hobby shared by new friends. We created TNU through rampant silliness and it turned into something beautiful. Still best friends and roommates to this day, we can pass this sassy, well-hydrated club on to future tea-loving students.
CNU makes it so easy for students to engage in what we’re passionate about and gives endless opportunities for leadership. We still avoid cleaning like the plague, but planning, managing and leading an entire club has set us on the path toward competent adulthood. So what are you passionate about? What could your club be? If you’re sitting down to think, I suggest a hot cup of oolong.