This post is a part of our weekly International Voices column, writing by UT students, for UT students. Enjoy!
The dead days are upon us (you can’t expect me to call two puny little days a dead week) – and I believe they’re aptly named. After all, campus turns into zombieland, populated by sleep-deprived undergrads all jittery from over-caffeination. Aimlessly they wander around campus reciting formulae, dates, and German verb conjugations before heading off to PCL or SAC or an acronym of their choice to catch some zzzs in a dim corner. You can tell the seniors by the dreamy, far-off look in their eyes, half-excited for graduation, half melancholic to leave the sheltered 40 Acres behind. Sure, college feels like losing your mom in the supermarket – for four years (aphorism coined by one of my students) – but at least it’s a supermarket you know well. And it’s really a mom-and-pop store compared to what’s waiting beyond these burnt orange walls.
While I wish the graduating class of 2015 all the best in their future endeavors, this is not a commencement address. My post is just about the next few days and where you’re gonna spend them. On campus, I presume, but where do you go when you need a time-out from studying? Where can you let your soul dangle and your mind rest? “We asked 100 undergrads…” (are you too young to get a Family Feud reference?) …well I asked a bunch of grads and undergrads for their favourite Zen places on or near by campus. Places that make you feel like you’re on vacation. Here’s what I learnt.
- The Outdoor Pool at Gregory Gym – Palm trees swaying in the breeze, the faint smell of chlorine in your nostrils, and the Beach Boys spreading Good Vibrations – nothing screams leisure like the Aquatic Complex at Gregory! If you like it a little more rambunctious, check out their Splash Bash on 12 May, 2pm.
- The turtle pond – Off Inner Campus Drive and University Avenue lies the notorious turtle pond, home to over 40 turtles whose lazy circling paddle will inspire you to slow down and do some pond-ering yourself. Crane your neck towards the sun as turtles do and enjoy doing absolutely nothing.
Eastwoods Park – Just off campus below San Jacinto and to the right of Dean Keeton you’ll find all the solace and distraction you could want: Equipped with basketball and tennis courts, sanitary facilities and a playground, this Park has it all! Play some ball, swing as high as you can, or find the one tree that perfectly fits the shape of your back and read (no textbooks allowed!) or nap. Aside from hosting the original Eeyore statue, the best thing about Eastwoods Park is that there’s no power cables or internet access anywhere, forcing you to take a break.
- Waller Creek – This modest little creek runs right through Eastwoods Park and continues above San Jacinto, passing by CLA and winding its way around the Alumni Center (across from the Stadium). When you’re walking along San Jacinto, all it takes is a few careful steps down a green slope and you will find yourself in the middle of an urban forest. Listen to the bubbling, gurgling creek, take a deep cedar-soaked breath and feel instantly refreshed.
- The Color Inside: a James Turrell Skyscape – If you need blinders to forget you’re on campus, James Turrell’s Skyscape might be just the place for you. A white cylinder that opens at the top but blocks anything else from view, Turrell’s piece let’s you contemplate the sky and only the sky. Sitting on the simple stone bench that lines the wall of Turrell’s turret, or lying on the floor staring up at the sky canvas, you can watch the clouds drift by and reflect, dream, or scheme your next steps.
Wherever you go, make sure to leave your work behind for an hour or two. I assure you it will still be there when you get back.