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The Great Outdoors

Hello friends! As we pass the one year mark of the Coronavirus shutting down the University of Rochester, there are several light pinpricks beginning to shine from the tend of the tunnel. Vaccines are becoming more and more widely available, a tentative hope for a fully in-person fall semester has been proposed, and the best part in my opinion, warmer weather.

One of the biggest gains myself and I think many others have taken from the pandemic is a new emphasis on spending time outdoors. In the first few months of quarantine, my mom and I got up every morning to take a walk around the woods surrounding my town before she (virtually) went to work. It was a great bonding experience, and we got a chance to take in so much beautiful nature – squirrels, mushrooms, evergreens, and a very friendly duck at a nearby pond. With classes, jobs, and studying taking up most of our waking hours, it’s easy to spend most days shut up inside, focused on computers or textbooks. But if you’ve read my last blog post (the one where I mention how windows was the biggest factor in choosing a house off campus), you’ll know how much I care about getting that sweet, sweet natural light.

The good news is, the support for finding cool, fun, socially distanced activities to do is coming at us from all sides this semester. Over break, the University flooded part of Wilson quad in order to create a (very) temporary ice skating rink, and offered skate rentals and skate time so that people could have a fun winter outdoor experience. Last fall, the debate team went kayaking on the Genesee.

A few weeks ago, me and some of the brothers from Beta Theta Pi signed up for the U of R’s snowtubing trip (y’all, if you haven’t been snowtubing….go). The above photo is of some friends from the quidditch team who made our way over to Webster Park, hiked in the woods, then down to the pier to skip stone and enjoy the scenery. Picnics, bike rides, walking trials, coffee dates outside of cafes, skateboarding, dog-walking, anything that gets you outside and into the cool breeze and sunshine hits just the spot.

I’ve been delighted as the temperature has soared into the 60s and even 70s over the past few weeks, to see hundreds of students out on the quads across campus – studying, throwing frisbees, snoozing in hammocks, even taking classes from some incredibly awesome professors who decided they also couldn’t stand being inside on such lovely days. I’ve even started taking some of my zoom classes from my porch, just to get some extra time outside.

For those of us with seasonal affective disorder, the arrival of spring (and most importantly, daylight savings) provides a much needed boost of serotonin. But I think this year more than ever, the necessity of outdoor time really cannot be exaggerated. These last few months have been exceptionally tough, because we were really were stuck socializing only with the people we lived with, and even if you have awesome roommates – which I do – can get old faster than the weather can warm up.

For our day off this week, I’m planning to spend most of the day over at Lake Ontario Park. I hope you all are getting a chance to spend some time outside, whether it’s doing one of the activities I mentioned above, or something totally different, go for it! You know how sometimes you get incredibly tired and cranky and let it go on for hours before realizing “Oh, I haven’t eaten anything since breakfast” or “I haven’t drank a non-caffeinated beverage all day”. Consider this your reminder that if you’ve been feeling down lately, it might be good to get outside. Even just a short walk around your block can work wonders.

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