Tomorrow is the day. My nerves are overshadowed by excitement to start my spring semester abroad. The process of organizing everything which led me to this point has not been possible without some amazing people. Thanking my parents only seems natural, as well as the lovely folks in the study abroad office, but there is one particular friend who I owe so much to because she helped me paint a new reality of what’s to come and gave me the answers of how to be best prepared when navigating through the Italian culture.

This friend was introduced to me at one of my numerous study abroad meetings and she was there because she actually attended the same program in Florence just this past year. She, like myself, was a sophomore during the spring semester who attended the Florentine University. However, I was utterly shocked at her bravery when she had admitted she was one of the first of our students to ever travel to Florence. I had been so stressed earlier that week because of the woes of applying for a visa seemed larger than life, but when I heard she willingly traveled where no student had gone before my claim to stress quickly dissipated.

After our initial introduction we had decided to swap numbers and she was gracious enough to agree to lunch one day, dedicating the time for me to shower her with a plethora of questions. I had made a list with everything that made me worried or confused, like the process of buying textbooks in Italy, and what would the apartments be like. She quickly answered everything, giving me advice on the easiest avenue to achieve little things, such as how to pleasantly interact with locals.

There were so many good tips that she gave me. I could tell she wanted me to be aware of so I did not have to endure the hardships that she initially experienced. I was so grateful to her because I realized that as much as I try to prepare myself there will be an awkward phase when learning the ropes in Italy. I can read as many books and blog posts as I want to try to avoid the most simple of missteps, but the reality is talking to people like her is what will help me be successful. She’s one of the only resources that have been in my exact position and has experienced the vast contrast of both universities. I am indebted to her and I feel secure knowing that she’s only a text away if I feel lost in the city she grew to love.

Books, Books, Books

The same thing happens every semester. I always wait until the very last minute to order my textbooks for class. In fairness, this is sometimes because I make changes to my schedule as I receive the syllabi for my courses. Though, even if my schedule was locked in when I came to Christopher Newport for a new semester, I’d still probably have zero of the books required. There’s a couple of reasons for this (besides being lazy).

My first reason is I like to hear from the professor directly that we will indeed be using the textbook. In some cases, the textbook is simply a point of reference and the exams are on lecture only. In other cases, I split the cost of the book with a friend and we share a copy if its feasible for the class we’re taking, but first I have to learn who I have in my classes with me. One thing I’m incredibly grateful for is Captains are always keen to help other Captains. In the Facebook group for the Class of 2021, students are always reselling books to one another for very low prices, or even giving them away. This is done in all of Christopher Newport’s class Facebook groups.

So, as I scramble to get all my books, often times I don’t have to wait long at all to receive them. I simply meet up with a fellow student in the David Student Union and get my book in a few minutes’ time. When I do order books from the Captains Locker or Amazon, I can always rely on my classmates to fill me in on the reading or lend me their book so I don’t fall behind in class. At Christopher Newport, no one is in it alone. Every facet of our education here benefits from the community we share with one another.

Career Advice

Now, more than ever, is the time for me to get serious about applying for jobs, as it is my last semester. Applying for jobs, especially when you are unsure of where you want to work or what companies you want to work for, is often scary, but that’s OK! Since my freshman year, many of my professors have advised students to visit the Center for Career Planning to aid with career preparation and readiness. The Center for Career Planning, or the CCP, is a free resource open to all students that I highly recommend using at least once a semester, if not more.

The Center for Career Planning aids students in writing a standout resume, choosing a major, beginning a job search and networking with Christopher Newport alumni. Not only does the CCP provide the opportunity to speak with career professionals one-on-one, but they also hold various workshops for all majors, mock interviews and a career fair each semester.

I recently made a private appointment with Libby Westley, the director of the Center for Career Planning, who is very passionate about the power of networking on LinkedIn. As I learned, the Christopher Newport alumni community is highly supportive of helping other Captains land a good career. By connecting with and messaging alumni on LinkedIn, you have a greater opportunity to learn about available careers and a greater opportunity to get hired. Along with career search, Libby also reviewed and suggested edits to my resume that allowed for a better flow of information and a more clear format that is attractive to future employers. Without a doubt, the Center for Career Planning is one of the most helpful resources on campus to better prepare students for their futures that you can’t get anywhere else!

Graphic Design Returns…(gulp)

It’s been a bit of a challenging week for me because I’ve had to do something I haven’t done since senior year of high school: graphic design. Back during my yearbook days, graphic design was always the bane of my existence. I would labor over the design for hours on end and never have anything that felt professional and original. Well, as the public relations chair for Psi Upsilon, one of my responsibilities is to promote ourselves.

With rush week quickly approaching, it was my job to promote our schedule and events. So, I opened up a graphic design program and began mocking up designs for each individual day of rush week as well a single graphic that showed the week as a whole. It took me about three hours and I definitely felt every minute. My housemates were calling me over to hang out, but I refused to leave my room until every graphic was finished. I made posters for such events as a video game night, football viewing party and others. When it was all said and done, I was actually extremely proud of the work I had done, as well as relieved for it be over. (Little did I know, I would be designing business cards for my fraternity a few days later.)

When I came to Christopher Newport, I never expected to do any sort of graphic design ever again. I’m always so surprised at just how many different areas I come across during my years here. Through the liberal learning curriculum, I’ve dipped my toes into just about every subject imaginable and my extracurriculars are the exact same way. I’m so grateful for all the exposure I’ve had to different interests during my time here, even if some of them aren’t necessarily my favorite way to spend my time!

How Much Can One Captain Handle?

Earlier this school year I wrote a blog post about how I wanted to push myself this year and get as involved on campus as possible. Well, I definitely did that. This semester I am busier than I have ever been. Unfortunately, I think I have gotten myself involved in too many things.

This semester I am taking 17 credit hours of class, which includes three classes for my majors, one class for my minor, a two-hour lab and an economics class to fulfill some liberal learning requirements, and finally, University Chorale rehearsal.

On top of my coursework, I have two on-campus jobs, writing blogs and sitting behind the front desk, totaling about 20 hours of work per week, I am still a member of the Residence Hall Association on the marketing committee, and this semester I am running for a position on the executive board, and I am also still presiding over the Spanish Club. I have also started volunteering with the Arts for All program, which helps me fulfill my requirements for the President’s Leadership Program.

Finally, I am in the process of (hopefully) becoming a resident assistant on campus, which means I am currently enrolled in a five-week course that focuses on teambuilding and policy enforcement.

Something that I have learned this year is that stretching myself too thin isn’t going to help me in the long run. I need to be able to have time to put in work for all of my involvements. It’s really sad that I will have to step down from some of my positions. However, it definitely is necessary. I am grateful that Christopher Newport has given me the opportunity to experience and grow from all of my involvements. As for what I am going to drop, I still have to figure that out, but I’m definitely going to give my calendar a break coming up soon.

Self-Care and Consciousness

After being recommended by many friends and even a few professors, I have decided it’s time for me to visit the Counseling Center. I was scared at first to take this huge step, but I have realized that getting help for myself doesn’t make me weak; the fact that I can go there and take that step only shows my strength. I couldn’t have gotten here if it wasn’t for the great friends and professors who assured me that this was the right thing to do.

Christopher Newport offers free counseling services to students, and with exceptions of serious situations, everything there will stay confidential. All of our counselors are well qualified and extremely understanding. When you first come to the center, you have the option to choose the kind of person you want to help you work through your troubles, and they will try to match you with the best person available to meet your needs.

My first experience was pretty great. The first meeting was just about getting to know each other and establishing the goal of counseling. I feel so grateful for my counselor. She was able to make me feel comfortable and created a space that enabled me to get a lot of things off my chest that I needed to talk about.

We have scheduled weekly meetings, and I know, even just from the first experience, that going to counseling is going to help me grow so much. When I walked out of the Freeman Center, I felt happy and proud of myself for taking this huge step to fix something that for a long time I was afraid to address. I don’t think I would have had the courage to go if it wasn’t for the amazing friends and professors I have met at Christopher Newport who have been so determined to help me.

Different Learning Styles

From a very young age, I’ve always known that I am a kinesthetic learner. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it means that I learn by doing and experiencing. Two of the other major types of learning are visual and auditory (seeing and hearing, respectively).

During high school wrestling practice, my coaches would call us over and demonstrate a new move for us to learn every few days. I never once learned the move by simply watching them do it. I always had to try it out with my partner a few times and then I’d get it, whereas my partner would often have the move ready to perform as soon as the coaches finished showing us. My partner was definitely a visual learner, but I was not.

At Christopher Newport, there are all kinds of different learning styles. I love theater and labs because I get to “do” as opposed to listen or watch. Other students, prefer to just listen to lectures and take notes. One thing that I’ve noticed about our school is that there is a little bit of every learning style in each classroom. Yes, we listen to lecture and watch instructional videos, but we also have assignments and activities that allow us to try things for ourselves. No matter what style of learning you prefer, you can rest assured you’ll find it here.

We are a small college, but that doesn’t mean there is any shortage of academic opportunity. Everyone can succeed here because we pride ourselves on putting students first and ensuring they have the best tools at their disposal for a satisfactory education. The Office of Student Affairs specifically works with students for this purpose. The education at Christopher Newport is so high in quality because of all the different tactics, perspectives, and views you, as a student, are exposed to when you take a class here. There’s nowhere I’d rather be!

Our Panhellenic Community

Formal sorority and fraternity recruitment just happened, and the campus was visibly excited in anticipation. Women, men and even professors love to discuss these festivities.

I remember distinctly the joy and nervousness I experienced as a freshman.. I wasn’t totally sure if taking this Greek leap of faith would be the right decision for me but thankfully, with the support of not only my friends, but also my RA, professors and sisters I had met throughout the year, I came to realize that there were so many incredible opportunities to get involved on campus and this was the best way for me to kick-start that journey.

Every year during formal recruitment season I am reminded of the decision I made to become involved more fully on this campus. Soon after joining my organization, I became involved with undergraduate research, intramurals, different volunteer opportunities – and became more successful academically.

Christopher Newport is unique for many reasons, one being the sense of community and camaraderie felt throughout the Greek organizations here. When I was a senior in high school completing a tour on this campus, I fell in love with the endless, kind smiles and promise of a home away from home. Now, each semester, each new leap of faith taken, I find yet another reason to fall in love with CNU, and I hope each of you reading will as well.

New Year, New Friendships

With the stress of tackling new classes it can be easy to forget that there are friends surrounding us every day, willing to help in times of trouble. Luckily there are many components within the university that inherently allow friendships to form. For instance, classes here are small, which allows students to get to know each other quicker and hopefully find their ideal study buddy. Some of my best friends happened to be the people who I decided to sit next to on the first day of class. They’re the people I turn to for help if I’m scared about a test, but also my sources of happiness if I need to de-stress.

Besides finding study buddies in class, another way to meet new people is through events provided by the Campus Activities Board. This organization on campus is student-led and strives to promote events each week that are fun and safe for nightlife. Just this past semester they had a movie night or a guest performer come each week. My personal favorite was when they had a comedic hypnotist visit and perform one Friday night. It was so much fun to meet up with a group of my friends and laugh for the whole hour’s performance. While we were there we even bonded with the group next to us and ended up expanding our friend group.

Another outlet where I’ve met most of my friends is through the clubs and volunteer activities I’ve pursued on campus. There’s tons of different clubs that allow outsiders to join in certain activities. I went to a Mardis Gras celebration with the French Club and found myself being inspired to join. Now I get to meet up with my friends every other week to discuss aspects of French culture and work to create new exciting events to promote our club. Additionally, I volunteer at the Virginia Living Museum and I needed a ride because I didn’t have a car on campus. Luckily, the university reached out to connect me with a student who also volunteered at the museum with the same time slot. We instantly became friends and in addition to working together with our volunteer services we meet at least once a week to grab coffee and catch up.

There are so many opportunities here and while it may overwhelm us when things change, the community and the friendships we invest in will never fail to provide us with strength to continue. I am excited to take on my second semester this year and I know I will be challenged, however I feel most excited for the new friendships that await me within this new year.

So, What’s a Theater Major?

Are you wondering what the theater major at Christopher Newport looks like? Well, that’s a bit of a complicated question, complicated in a good way. There are six different concentrations for the theater major. This allows for plenty of different avenues for students to explore, not just a singular curriculum.

The concentrations include acting, arts administration, design/technical theater, directing/dramatic literature, musical theater/dance and theater studies. Of course, all overlap with a core group of classes, but the classes you choose after your core is what creates your concentration. No matter which you choose, you have the opportunity to dip your toes into every facet of theater. This is definitely the best way to study theater, as you don’t isolate yourself to a sole program. Some of the classes in the core that you’ll take will usually include costume design, stage design, acting, theater history and directing. A lot of the elective courses involve delving deeper into those subjects, but also can include new subjects such as theater criticism, playwriting, make-up, lighting and drafting for the stage.

Personally, I’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg of what’s offered through the theater program, but I’m already immensely impressed. The faculty is incredibly accommodating and passionate. They all share a huge amount of experience in the actual theater industry and have great advice for aspiring theater majors. I can’t wait to sink my teeth even further into the program and explore some of the more advanced classes next semester!