The Places We Love Around CNU: Williamsburg

Christopher Newport University is prominently located in between Hampton Roads and the Historic Triangle. One of my personal favorites around CNU is Williamsburg. This corner of the Historical Triangle provides an experience of rich history, shopping and local food vendors.  So if you’re looking for a day off campus Williamsburg is a sure bet for a day of food, fun and shopping.

Merchant’s Square:

  • The Cheese Shop
    • A specialty food store that sells handcrafted sandwiches and the perfect lunch for a day in Williamsburg
  • The Blackbird Bakery
    • Incredible gourmet pastries and coffee in a small bakery set off from the main square
  • Mermaid Books
    • Used and rare books in a downstairs shop that encourages sitting and reading for hours
  • Kimball Theater
    • Collides arts from on- and off-screen productions from the past and present

Colonial Williamsburg (CW)

  • Ghost Walks
    • For those who are much more adventurous, CW offers guided tours around the colonial settlement infused with tales and stories of colonial past.
  • Dog Walks
    • On a Saturday morning you can find many dogs (and their owners) walking along the colonial cobble stone and almost always willing to let you pet their dog.
  • Historic Walks
    • Especially in fall, just walking around the grounds of the colonial homes, buildings and lawns.
  • Williamsburg Premium Outlets
    • You can find almost any clothing, athletic and designer store in these outlets that can easily make up a whole day.

Busch Gardens during special events (aka discounted tickets!)

  • Howl-O-Scream
    • Late September through October the park is opened as a haunted Halloween themed arena that gets everyone in the Halloween spirit.
  • Christmas Town
    • The park is fully decorated in beautiful colored lights with every part of the park having a theme that leads to a huge lit tree in the middle of the park.

The ideal Williamsburg day is in late fall when there is crispness in the air and the need for a slow day off campus. Sometimes as students we just need to stop studying and reading and take a break to enjoy a day with friends and no agenda!

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.

Laptop Meet Rain; Rain, Meet Laptop

We’ve all had an “oops” moment where we stand in the midst of a moment and watch things gracefully collapse, like the waters of a cascade crashing onto rocks, or like a downpour crashing onto a beautiful silvery surface of a laptop. Ahhhhh, the allure.

I promise this story has a happy ending – just keep reading!

So, last week some of us may have experienced the sudden downpour Newport News gifted us. Crazy stuff, huh?
I figured I’d share this story because it makes me so thankful I can go to a school with such a tight-knit community:

My roommate and I were taking a quick trip to get frozen yogurt, because, “Why not?” I left my building with my backpack and when we were about halfway there, it literally starts POURING like no other. I look at her and I’m like, “OK, do we keep walking?” she says, “yeah.” So we keep walking and she turns to me and says, “Liana, your laptop isn’t in your backpack right?” (In that moment I knew I messed up) I timidly reply to her and say “It is…” Welp.

We eat our yogurt, and I get back to the room, open my laptop, and lo and behold, my laptop’s screen is black and is making a cracking noise. Lovely. So, I’m over here panicking, calling IT support, my mother, Geek Squad, my mother, computer repair companies, my mother. And then I lose hope for this machine after all the negative responses. As my last resort I bought 10 pounds of rice just to soak up any excess liquid if there was any.

As I’m sitting in my room the next day, a lightbulb went off in my head. I seriously felt like I was a character in a cartoon having a revelation. At Christopher Newport we have these rooms called “Theme Units” where essentially 13-14 people who usually have the same major or interest live together. I knew a few people on the third floor theme unit who were … COMPUTER SCIENCE MAJORS! (Woot! Woot!). I seriously sprinted over there and with practically no expectations I asked a couple of them if they could check out my computer. They took out a toolkit which contained at least 20 mini screwdrivers, unscrewed the back of my laptop, poured out the rice that got stuck inside my laptop and voilà! My laptop was resurrected!

Well there it goes guys. If you learned anything from this it should be:

1. Make friends with people outside your major (You will learn something I promise).
2. Theme Units are incredible.

(And make sure to get a waterproof backpack!)

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.

CNU: The Rain Edition

It might not be too obvious to the outsider but going to school near the coast brings a lot of great things: beach days, surfing, salty sweet air. But there’s one other thing it brings … RAIN.

Normally I’d say it rains more in the spring semester, perfectly timed so it pours down right as you’re trying to move out of your residence hall for the summer. But this fall, this week, it seems like it hasn’t stopped raining. I haven’t even done my hair this week because I know as soon as I walk out of my house the rain, or humidity, will wreak havoc on whatever hairstyle I tired to craft!

Although rain might make any plans you had prior a little soggy, or you hair, there are a few things you can do to keep the rain from ruining your day!

  • Be sure to own rain boots and a rain jacket (make sure it’s really a Rain Jacket and not a Windbreaker – BIG difference)
  • Have some spare ponchos for tailgates and sporting events on campus
  • Explore Newport News when the rain keeps you inside! We’ve got bowling alleys, indoor trampoline places, even a Melting Pot!
  • Use the crummy weather to study! Curl up in your room or dash over to an academic building to knock out that book report so you can enjoy the sunshine when it decides to come out again!
  • See a show at the Ferguson Center! Check out this fall’s lineup.
  • Be sure to keep you laptop dry! In a case, or even a plastic bag, make sure it stays dry when you get caught in a downpour between classes. I learned my backpack wasn’t waterproof the hard way.
  • In the worst case, you can rent a canoe from the Freeman Center to get to class (Kidding! that’s a joke, but trying out an exercise class during a rainy day is a great way to stay active and have fun!)

CNU in Seven Points

img_3251As a senior I’ve been around the block a time or two – seven semesters, three residence halls – you might say I’ve “seen it all.” And while everyone has their own bias, Christopher Newport University is one of the greatest universities to exist, and I’ll give you seven reasons why:

  1. The state of the campus
    • Everything is constantly at its best. The grass is always green, buildings are shining in the sunlight, I walk to class on a picture perfect campus everyday.
  2. Faculty
    • I won’t be able to say enough kind words here. My professors have changed my life for the better, they have shown me that I have the potential to succeed in ways I never even imagined. People say you won’t want to graduate because then you have to “become an adult.” I don’t want to graduate because I’m not done learning from them just yet.
  3. The students
    • CNU is big enough to not know everyone, but small enough to recognize faces on the way to class. You’ll always have some one to sit with in the library or grab dinner in Regatta’s with!
  4. Theme meals
    • As a senior without a meal plan this is one thing I miss most: THEME MEALS! The greatest part of the month when you won’t be judged on the amount of fried foods or crab legs you can eat in one sitting.
  5. Greek life
    • As a sorority member I can testify to just how unique our Greek community is. Never have I heard of such cooperation and inclusion in a Greek system, I swear CNU is the exception to all stereotypical statements.
  6. President Trible
    • At what other university are you invited to have dessert? Probably the highlight of my freshman  college experience was getting to visit the president’s house and be warmly welcomed into their home on the James River.
  7. You can do anything here
    • Christopher Newport is the place of can-do’s. Anything you could imagine in academics you can pretty much do here. Study abroad in Ireland, help with undergraduate research, join a coloring club! And if what you want to do hasn’t been done before, professors will work to help you find a way to achieve your dreams. Sounds crazy, but it’s a reality here.
  8. (Bonus!) The beach
    • Um yeah, did I mention there are beaches within a five to 30-minute radius of the school? The James River, Yorktown, all the way to Virginia Beach. Math isn’t so hard when you’re doing it on the beach in the sun!