Every time I get off campus, whether it’s a walk to the store or a weekend away, I feel an absurd sense of relief. It is as if while within the confines of campus I inadvertently absorb the preoccupations of those around me, a complicit participant in the stress Olympics, and only know how to let that mentality go when the campus disappears from view. If that sounds unhealthy and a little ridiculous, you’re not wrong.
Midterm Reading Period is like a built-in safety net, a forced exhalation that is scheduled for us when one’s only repose with friends, at dinner, or on the computer is always coupled with the guilt that there is something else one “should” be doing instead. Reading Period makes me realize that this is an extraordinarily irrational mentality to uphold all of the time, and that alternatives exist, such as visiting family, traveling, sleeping in, or willing that essay extension to be granted.
Fortunately, I got off campus for Reading Period in an effort to absorb something other than the harsh wind against my skin in the as-of-late dreary and grey walk from Warch to my dorm. In so doing, I came back feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Even so, it is not necessarily a dramatic change of scene that does good; merely going for a walk, stopping at a coffee shop, or going to the store is enough to create a momentary division from yourself and yourself as a student. While that may seem an almost wild notion in an environment that demands that the student in us be always on, it is important.
Something about doing work or eating with a friend off campus, to exist amidst non-students, is comforting. There are families eating meals, people out on dates, coworkers conducting a meeting, friends catching up. It is great to vary one’s environment or to at least extend its limits. In fact, I have grown to avoid the library more and more, not because it doesn’t offer plentiful space to study coupled with necessary and helpful resources, but because seeing so many people burrowed into the corners, papers spread out across desks, armed with over-caffeinated drinks makes me too anxious to do anything. (Of course, I must also freely admit that I become that person from time to time).
The luxury of stepping off campus or finding a different space is not equally accessible to everyone, nor equally welcoming. However, the idea of shaking up one’s routine and doing something different amidst what often becomes monotony is universally compelling and wholly necessary.