Students spend time outside, appreciate nature
April 8, 2021
As the University transitions back to a state of normalcy, the vibrant energy on campus is starting to surface. This is appreciated and relished by many University students, and since the weather has been warmer, many are spending time outside.
Antonio Sanchez, junior in Information Sciences, described his new found appreciation for something as simple as sitting outside.
“I think I’ve always been about nature and the outdoors, but I feel that going through something like the COVID-19 pandemic made me appreciate it more,” Sanchez said.
He went on to describe that he goes for walks multiple times throughout the month as long as his schedule and the weather permits it. He even started to become more environmentally conscious by doing things such as turning off the water while he brushes his teeth and taking the time to recycle things.
At the University level, environmental consciousness is coming to the forefront day by day. As the litter of disposable masks was becoming a risk during the fall semester, the University responded by placing mask recycling containers in different locations like the Illini Union, or the different residence halls containers for recycling plastic bags have also become more common, but these can only be found in the Union for now.
The Institute for Sustainability, Energy and Environment have deemed April Earth Month with different events taking place each day, such as community trash pickups, lectures covering environmental issues like “lessons from the pandemic to tackle the climate crisis” and rock painting events meant to educate while stress relieving.
“As you get older, you become more conscious, especially right now with climate change being a big threat, and I feel like it’s one of the biggest challenges my generation will face, along with the generation after me,” Sanchez said.
Other students recall some of their favorite things about nature and how they have acted as an unconscious stress reliever.
Jocelyn Gonzalez junior in Business, said that she has always enjoyed nature and being outside, and although she does not actively look for it as a stress reliever, it always ends up being one.
“I like going on walks to discover new things, but I always catch myself looking at the trees or feeling the wind, maybe even catching the sunset or the sunrise,” Gonzalez said. “It’s just a sense of calming, and it helps me forget about the responsibilities I have for a moment.”
However, with a newfound appreciation, there is also a new type of caution that is on the minds of some students. Sanchez said he’s hesitant to participate in outdoor activities because there’s a risk he could contract the COVID-19 virus.
“COVID-19 definitely changed my perspective on things such as going outside or interacting with other students,” Sanchez said. “It just feels a little strange compared to last year. For example, if I was in the Japanese Garden, I wouldn’t have hesitated to go up to someone and just interact with them, but I’ve just become more cautious.”
Noel Enciso, junior in LAS, also developed anxiety during the pandemic.
“It’s something that I didn’t think my generation would have to worry about,” Enciso said.“I tried not to go out as much last semester because I was worried about spreading the virus to my family, such as my parents or my grandfather.”
When walking on the Main Quad, several students can be seen wearing masks as they go for a jog or ride their bikes around campus. Other students sit socially distanced in little huddles. Even the students playing spikeball or football try not to make too much contact with each other.