By BROTI GUPTA ’16
Wellesley College is often called one of the most beautiful college campuses in the country. The World Observer ranks it second on its “Scenic College Campuses That Were Made for Instagram” list.
However, Wellesley’s beauty goes further than its postcard good looks. As students, we can discover the smaller, quieter charm of the campus in the nooks and crannies only we tend to know about. Before the weather turns too cold to brave the outdoors, use a free afternoon to find your place on campus. Bring along a book or an iPad, and embrace a distraction-free outside study spot away from the monotony of working indoors.
The benches overlooking the lake behind the Tower Complex provide a great view and a peaceful environment for reading. When it’s warm outside, take a book (or even academic readings) to the benches and enjoy the light, relaxing breeze.
Another exceptionally serene and beautiful place to read is the small wooden bridge that crosses over the creek close to the lake. Although there isn’t a seating area, students can comfortably recline against the side of the bridge, leaning against the railing for support. Fish swim through the stream under the bridge in this quiet and hidden arboretum location, contributing to an ambience perfect for a distraction-free reading spot.
There are some additional great outdoor locales around the lake should you feel like leaving campus. Halfway around the lake, in front of the Hunnewell gardens, there are a few seating areas. Closer to the west side of campus, just off the path that loops around the lake, is an old ruined wall that offers prime seating in the great outdoors.
While Tower’s Great Hall or desks in the library beckon to students hoping to hunker down and work, outdoor areas are free from noisy distractions. When the weather is nice, the only sounds are the wind rustling the leaves of the trees and the water rippling in the lake. Nature also brings a unique solitude, something difficult to find on a small college campus. Escaping from any surrounding stressful energy allows you to focus and work effectively, reset and quite literally step outside of an indoor existence.
Not only can experiencing the outdoors make studying less of a chore, but it can also improve cognitive function. A team of researchers from the University of Michigan conducted a psychology study in which they found that taking the time to be in nature, or even viewing images of nature, relaxed the mind and body, much like meditation. Participants in the study took walks throughout the city of Ann Arbor and an arboretum. Researchers subsequently reported that walking through the arboretum improved the participants’ short-term memory by 20 percent.
Nature itself is full of distractions, but according to researchers, nature distracts in such a soothing manner that it stimulates self-reflection. The atmosphere provides people with more time to process thoughts. There’s a reason that Walt Whitman and Henry David Thoreau preferred the outdoors and incorporated nature into their works so frequently. Feeling connected to something larger than themselves allowed them to synthesize ideas and even promoted creativity.
The next time you feel overwhelmed or need to escape the stresses of college life, take advantage of the campus. Take a walk arout Lake Waban, sit near the lake and read a book or explore the rich forestry. It can relax you, rejuvenate you and may even inspire some creativity.