Valentine’s Day Sucks… Let’s Make It Suck Less

All right, single ladies. It’s February 12, and we all know what that means … Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching, and there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it. Since before Christmas was even over, stores have been building love shrines and preparing for the “most romantic” day of the year. I walk into a store and am basically assaulted by pink hearts, candy and teddy bears that are holding, you guessed it, pink hearts, candy and smaller teddy bears. It looks like Cupid waged a war against humanity and ended up on top. And it’s not just shopping centers! There’s an online version of the attack as well! Between mushy social media posts about engagement after engagement and emails from random companies telling me what I need to buy “the love of my life” this year, I’m seriously considering throwing my computer out the window.

At this point in the year, college students, and, I’ll admit, I’m talking mostly about the girls here, can usually be broken down into two groups of people. First, you have the relationship-y people who are expecting the perfect Valentine’s Day date and are trying to coordinate their pink outfit to match their even pinker fingernail polish. These are typically the people who send heart-eyed emojis and kissy faces on a daily basis. Then, you have the singles. These people are desperately attempting to ignore the fact that Valentine’s Day exists at all, probably have to try really hard to not roll their eyes when they hear about lovey-dovey V-Day plans, and are patiently waiting for the annual Day After Valentine’s Day Chocolate Sale. As you might have guessed from my sarcasm, I belong to the second group, and most of my friends do as well. We have united in our singleness and are refusing to let Cupid win. My suitemate even went as far as to write “The Day That Shall Not Be Named” on our calendar on February 14.

Now, you might at this point think I have a rock where my heart is supposed to be, that I’m bitter that I’m single, or I don’t believe in love. Actually though, none of those things are true. I’ve been in love before, and I know at some point I will be again. I’m OK with being single for the time being. I believe that my “Prince Charming” is still coming … although I’m pretty sure he’s riding a turtle instead of a white horse. So, see? I do have a heart, and I don’t hate love.

Despite that, I don’t think there’s much debate that being single on Valentine’s Day can suck, if you let it. It can be hard watching your friends get ready to go on cute dates with their guys and knowing that the only date you’ll be having is with your Netflix account and stuffed giraffe. Here’s the good news, though: it doesn’t have to be this way! This year, I’ve decided I’m not going to let Valentine’s Day suck. There are tons of ways to make Valentine’s Day awesome, even as a single girl. There’s always the Galentine’s Day tactic where girls sit around in PJs all day eating ice cream and watching rom-coms. This is definitely an option, and my roommates and I do that WAY too much. But I’m not feeling that for Valentine’s Day this year. It seems too stereotypical.

This year, grab a group of your best friends, guys included, and do something really fun. Call it Alternative Valentine’s Day.

  • Play laser tag
  • Go mudding in a pickup truck
  • Have a horror movie marathon
  • Go line dancing
  • Take an archery class
  • Go roller-skating

The possibilities are endless. Single girls….. It’s time to break out of the box and defy the clichés that have begun to define Valentine’s Day. Don’t cave in and feel sorry yourself just because you’re single! Valentine’s Day isn’t all about the flower deliveries and romantic dinners. It’s about love. So instead of burying yourself under a pile of blankets and eating an entire box of donuts, go out and enjoy the day with the people you love most! It can be tough to be single, but any one of these ideas will make Valentine’s Day as a single suck a whole lot less. And hey… If it doesn’t quite work for you, there’s always the guaranteed promise of that half-price chocolate on February 15.

Top Five Struggles of Spring Semester

All right, Captains. We’ve survived a full two weeks of spring semester, and the newness is beginning to wear off. At first, it was awesome being back at school. We were getting antsy sitting at home with nothing to do … We all started missing our friends from school … And we were dying to return to the independence that college life provides. But, as the rise and grind routine becomes normal again and we start to really get into our classes, I know that deep down, we’re all missing winter break just a little bit. Here’s the top five struggles of being back at school for a new semester.

1) Realizing that you actually have to be productive.

I don’t know about you, but I think I was in denial the entire first week of classes. I had zero desire to BUY a textbook, let alone OPEN it. For some reason, being back at school made even the simple task of getting off the couch seem as difficult as climbing Mount Everest. The realization that I could no longer spend all day, every day in bed watching Netflix was a reality too harsh to comprehend, and the withdrawal process was not easy. It was a major struggle not pushing everything off ’til a far away “tomorrow” and convincing myself that I did need to get out of bed and complete my homework assignments.

2) It’s an Arctic tundra out there!

Why do they call it “spring” semester anyway?! There is nothing spring-like about the weather we have faced already since returning to school. I’m fairly certain that thermostats everywhere are lying, and it’s actually an average of -47 degrees in Newport News right now. Nothing makes you want to go to class less than knowing that if you go outside, you might contract hypothermia before you reach your classroom.

3) Having to wake up before noon.

Closely related to number one, number three really hit me hard upon my return to Christopher Newport. To be honest, I had forgotten what the “a.m.” symbol on my alarm clock looked like. I swear, the earlier it is, the more comfortable my bed feels. It’s definitely not easy to wake up when parting from my bed is such sweet, sweet sorrow.

4) Coming up with outfits again.

No longer can I just roll out of bed and spend the entire day wearing a onesie with my hair in a bun; I now have to look socially acceptable every morning. Putting on makeup and “real clothes” is something I did probably four times over break. I’m not going to lie to you, it was fun putting together new outfits and looking nice for the first week of classes, but I’ve reached a dilemma. I’m running out of sweaters and boot socks. I can only be cute and basic for so long before I run out of options!

5) Missing mom’s cooking. 

This was one of the big ones for me. Christopher Newport has really good food. (Come on, y’all, if you deny it, you’re just being picky.) But there’s something about a home-cooked meal that just can’t be beat, and I really miss it when I go back to school. Knowing that my family is sitting at the table eating something delicious without me makes me miss winter break just a little bit more. General Tso’s and buffalo chicken wraps are great, but nothing can top mom’s cooking.

So, those are the top five things that I think we’re probably all struggling with the most since being back at school. However, re-reading through the list, I’m realizing that, if you look at it the right way, all of those dilemmas can be easily solved.

Being productive is hard to readjust to, but you’re back with your best friends in the world. Make a study group and knock out the homework together. Yes, it’s absolutely freezing outside, but you KNOW you want to bundle up and go take pictures in the snow so you can have a new profile picture. Waking up seems like absolute death, but why not cook a pancake breakfast with your suite to make the getting out of bed process a little easier? You might be running out of new clothes, but roommates are lifesavers in that situation. If you think about it, you each have two full wardrobes! If you’re missing family dinners, gather up your friends and go out to dinner. Sitting around a table laughing with them will make you feel at home again.

Being back at school might seem like the ultimate struggle right now. And yeah … Sometimes it’s hard. But look at the bright side of things! The pros totally outweigh the cons. Enjoy your time at CNU, notice the little things, and remember that spring break is right around the corner.

Thanksgiving in Paradise

Let me just start out by saying that, for me, Thanksgiving is all about tradition. I’m not usually one to care about repetition and regularity, but Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays, is my exception. My family has hosted turkey day in our house for as long as I can remember. My mom spends three days cooking enough food for an army (I do attempt to help when she’ll let me), and my grandma, cousins, aunts and uncles on my mom’s side come and hang out at my house. Even my grandparents on my dad’s side, who live in Florida, make the trip up north each year to be with us on Thanksgiving.

My sister and I religiously watch the parade together every Thanksgiving morning, my cousins and I spend the entire day laughing together, my mom generally makes the same recipes every year (mostly because everyone has a particular favorite, and they would freak out if it wasn’t in the lineup), and my whole family sits at the table for a solid 3-4 hours just enjoying having everyone together. The best—and possibly strangest—Thanksgiving tradition is that we usually end the day with my entire family playing Wii Fit, so that we at least feel somewhat OK about the mountains of food we’ve consumed. Something about having the consistency of those traditions each year makes me love Thanksgiving even more.

That said… This year was very different for me. My mom called me the week before Thanksgiving break began, and said, “Hey, V… How do you feel about driving down to Florida for Thanksgiving?” At first I thought she was messing with me, but she was totally serious. My dad’s parents had decided they couldn’t travel to Virginia this year, so my mom, after talking to us, chose to change things up and travel down south for the holiday. At three in the morning on my first day of Thanksgiving break, I met up with my family, and we drove 17 hours down to Florida, turkey in tow.

Turns out, it’s not really easy to make Thanksgiving dinner when you’re not in your own house. My mom, who still had to cook everything because my grandmother doesn’t cook much anymore, didn’t know where anything in the kitchen was, so we were constantly wandering around the kitchen, dazed and confused, searching for things like spatulas and oven mitts. Random things that are always in stock at my house were missing from my grandma’s kitchen, so we had to make about 10 runs to the grocery store. The menu kind of evolved as the day went on due to lack of ingredients and time. My sister and I tried to help as much as possible, but we were just as lost as my mom. Eventually, when I almost used Bisquick instead of flour in the dessert I was making because both ingredients were in identical containers, my mom and I just had to sit down and laugh.

It was completely different from any other Thanksgiving I can remember, but somehow all of the food ended up on the table. Everything was delicious, and, even though it was my first Thanksgiving without any cousins, it was still a really fun day. I’ve gotta say, the strangest part about spending my Thanksgiving in Florida was the temperature. It was 80 degrees! Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not complaining. This southern girl desperately needed some sunshine, and I came back home completely rejuvenated after some time outside. However… It was really bizarre to see people hanging Christmas lights on palm trees and to listen to Christmas music in the car with the windows rolled down. We even spent Black Friday on the beach… So we changed the name to “Tan Friday.”

Overall, I had a great Thanksgiving break. Sure, almost all of my traditions were broken, but the point of Thanksgiving isn’t really about tradition, even though that’s sometimes what I turn it into. It’s about being with people who care about you and honestly giving thanks for the opportunities you’ve been blessed with. I am really thankful that my mom decided to make the trip and we got to be with my grandparents for Thanksgiving. I know how happy it made them to see us pull in their driveway, and that made it worth it. Plus, I got to spend my break on a beach instead of wrapped up in a scarf in Virginia! Who could complain about that? But next year, I will totally be back in my own house, and all of the traditions will be reestablished. Just saying.

White Christmas

One of the (many) amazing benefits of being a student at Christopher Newport is the unlimited access to the Ferguson Center for the Arts. This venue hosts dozens of performances each year, ranging from concerts by Harry Connick Jr. and Celtic Woman, to Chinese acrobats and Broadway shows. The variety is fantastic, and students even get discounted tickets! Each time I attend a show, several people come up to me and comment on how lucky I am to go to a school with such a beautiful facility, and, every time, I realize again how right they are.

This past weekend, the Ferg presented Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas.” Now, let me give you some context on my relationship with “White Christmas”. I saw the musical live for the first time at a dinner theater with some friends when I was 11. Since then, “White Christmas” has been my all-time favorite Christmas movie. Every Christmas Eve I make my whole family sit down to watch it together, and we sing every song at the top of our lungs. My sister and I are totally convinced that we ARE the main characters, and their “Sisters” song totally defines our relationship. Needless to say … I was pretty excited when I found out it was going to be performed here.

I decided to surprise my whole family with tickets, and their reaction was exactly what I had been hoping for. My parents, sister and grandmother all packed into my mom’s mini van, and they came road-tripping down to CNU for the show. Once we arrived in the Ferguson lobby, it was so fun to see the excitement in the eyes of the families waiting for the show to start. Christmas music was playing, everyone was wearing red, and the holiday spirit seemed to be settling in on CNU. The show itself was incredible! My family and I had a wonderful time and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The songs were amazing, the dance numbers blew me away, and the audience was fully engaged through the entire performance. It was absolutely worth taking a night off from essay writing and homework to see a great show and fall into the Christmasy spirit. And, in case you’re wondering, the answer is yes. I did sing all of the songs with my sister!

Although the final showing of “White Christmas” was on Sunday night, I would highly encourage everyone to pick up tickets for upcoming shows. Check out the schedule online! There are so many awesome events coming up. Take someone on a date! Go for a fun night with your roommates! Do what I did, and bring your family down! We are so lucky to have such fantastic performances right on campus. Don’t miss out on the chance to take advantage of them!

Seeing CNU Through Fresh Eyes

I tend to involve myself in a LOT here at Christopher Newport. Every day I’m volunteering at something or attending something else, and I never really have a day off. Sometimes it feels like I don’t have time to breathe before I’m running off to the next event, but this is just a testimony to how much I love CNU. I’m overly involved on campus because I want to be involved. I see it as my way of giving back to a campus that has given me a home.

That being said, one of my favorite positions at this school is being a recruiter for the President’s Leadership Program (PLP). This sounds like a pretty fancy title, but it basically means that twice a semester, I host one or two students overnight in my residence hall and show them a little bit of what college is like. I take them to on-campus activities and sports events, eat with them in the dining halls, introduce them to other students and faculty members, and answer their many, many questions about CNU and college life in general.

What’s awesome about this position is that it allows me to see Christopher Newport through fresh eyes again. I get to experience, multiple times a year, the excitement that a high school senior feels when they arrive at my campus for the first or second time. Their enthusiasm is contagious, and it consistently reminds me why I chose CNU. I watch their awe as they look at the buildings or their elation when President Trible stops to say hello to them in the Plaza. Sometimes, as a student, I become numb to these things. I am running around so much that days go by where I feel like I’m going through the motions, and I forget to look around and realize how incredible it is that I’m lucky enough to go to a school like Christopher Newport.

Watching the high schoolers’ reactions wakes me up. It causes me to pay a little bit more attention to the things I might have forgotten about or begun to overlook. It makes me appreciate the small things again, like the names on the bricks around the plaza and the always-friendly dining staff. In short, it makes me fall in love with CNU again, and that’s something I want to continue doing all the way through graduation. I never want to fully lose the wide-eyed wonder that I had when I visited Christopher Newport for the first time, and I’m so grateful to have a position like a PLP recruiter that allows me to experience that sensation over and over again with potential new students.

“You and Your Evil Blow-Dryer…”

Ever had one of those days where you feel like you never should have gotten out of bed? A few days ago, I was having one. I had a paper due that I couldn’t quite come up with the words for, I was trying to finish an application that seemed totally overwhelming and I had an exam coming up that I needed to start studying for. Let me preface the rest of this by saying, I’m the kind of person who dresses like a complete bum when I have a lot of homework. I stop wearing makeup, my hair goes in a bun and, chances are, I wear the same sweatpants I fell asleep wearing the night before. It’s weird, I know, but it’s just how I work best. However, on that particular morning, I decided to switch it up. I woke up and felt like the only way I was going to be productive was if I wore “real clothes” and made myself look socially presentable.

So, I put on a dress, did my hair and makeup, and went off to class. When I returned from class, I was completely exhausted, but, after a long internal battle, I decided not to take a nap. I grabbed a glass of water and a snack, sat down at my desk and opened up my laptop. I proceeded to stare at a blank screen for 20 minutes. The words were just not coming. Finally, an idea came to me, and I started typing. I had written about a paragraph when, suddenly, my glass of water leapt off my desk and into my lap. This is where my day got really interesting.

I looked down at my soaked dress, and decided that it was totally not worth it to pay for a dryer just to dry one article of clothing. So, I changed into some pajama pants and a flannel, and did the first thing I could think of: grabbed my blow-dryer and started trying to blow-dry the water out of my dress. I thought this was a somewhat brilliant idea. WRONG. My dress was almost dry when an ear-splitting noise erupted in my room. Yes, you guessed it: I set off the smoke alarm with a blow-drier. I am “that girl.”

As my roommate and I plugged our ears and ran out of the room, my RA met us in the hallway and gave us a confused look. I sheepishly explained to her that I’m pretty sure my blow-dryer was the culprit, and she, following procedure, called the police. The three of us sat in the hallway, listening to the horrendous noise and waiting for someone to turn off the alarm. Finally, it stopped. A few minutes later, a maintenance man came up and knocked on my door. As soon as I opened it, he started laughing and said, “You and your evil blow-dryer… what WERE you doing?!” I stared at him for a second, and then I started laughing too. It was just that ridiculous. There was nothing I could do but laugh at myself and my bad luck.

There are two morals that I took away from this event. First, I should never dress up to do homework. Clearly, I am just meant to wear sweatpants and T-shirts if I’m going to work. Dressing up can only end in disaster. Second, never, under any circumstances, should you ever try to blow-dry your clothes in a dorm room. Take it from me … the $1.50 it takes to use the dryer in the laundry room is TOTALLY worth it.

The Hurricane Known As “Midterms Week”

In the hearts and minds of college students everywhere, there are two words that inspire immediate feelings of the utmost fear and dread more than any others: Midterms Week. There’s no getting around it; midterms are hard. Sometimes you end up feeling like your life has turned into one giant coffee pot and a million piles of notes surrounding you as you desperately try to remember which flashcards correspond to which class.

I am no exception. The stress gets to me. Deep down, I know that it’s only one week, and I know that if I study hard I will do well. Despite that, sometimes it’s hard to not become overwhelmed. This semester specifically, I was feeling the pressure. Midterms week happened to line up with the arrival of our good friend Hurricane Joaquin, and as I sat in my room studying, listening to the raindrops pelt against my window, I began to feel like my study guides were mocking me. I needed to get out of my room.

Randomly, a friend texted me and said that he and two others were about to bike down to the river, and he invited me to come along. Initially, I thought he was insane. The idea of biking to the beach in the middle of a torrential downpour kind of made me question his mental stability, but as I stared at the mountains of textbooks all over my floor, I decided that a bike ride in the rain sounded pretty good. I have to admit, that was one of the best decisions I made this semester. We rode all the way to the river, and we were so drenched by the time we got there, that we decided to go swimming, clothes and all. We rode our bikes back to campus, making absolutely sure to aim for every puddle in our path, and we ended the night with a lot of pictures and a great story to tell.

Sometimes, you just need to close the textbooks and have an adventure. Your flashcards will still be there waiting for you when you get back! Yes, midterms are daunting, but the next time you start to feel overwhelmed by schoolwork and studying and exams, give yourself a break. Go dance in the rain. I’ve realized that those experiences often turn into the best memories you’ll have in college.