By Jheanelle Kerr
As an international student who always felt awkward in crowds of people who often did not speak my language or understand me, I was always searching for that haven where I could relax, do assignments, or debrief what I learned in class. Over the past two months of attending Niagara University, I have found three places where I escape the crowd and go.
The irony of these places is that they are located near busy areas but sometimes hidden by the luscious vegetation around the campus. The first spot is the fire pit, followed by stumps on the left side of Dunleavy and my all-time favorite, classroom 329.
Campus time is significant. However, it is also equally important to reflect, study and meditate. The coronavirus has taught us the importance of mental health and ways to preserve it; these are places you could do such. I have found solace in these places and would like to share them with you.
Imagine a bonfire, take away the wood, the smoke, and the fear that your favorite jacket would smell like you had been to a bonfire party. When you take away all those things, you get a fire pit located directly behind Dunleavy Hall and at the side of the O’Shea Residential Building. The firepit is furnished with a glass that protects your body, but it is not high enough to interfere with the fire you want. There are also concrete seats around the pit that you could use during the day, as the firepit is often used at night to fight off the fall and incoming winter coldness. I often use the seats to study before I enter the back entrance of Dunleavy to class. I find it convenient and peaceful. The directions to use the pit are printed and pasted on the Dunleavy wall at the back door.
It was a day like today when I was leaving a class in Dunleavy, and I had no destination in mind; I was walking around the area, and I saw benches close to apple trees that seemed unused but necessary and helpful. I immediately had a thought, “Why is there no one here? This is a great area to study, and it is also close to the front entrance of the building; wow, this will be my spot.” It is located on the left side of the Dunlevy, depending on where you stand. If you are at the entrance, it Is by your left, and at the back, it is by your right. This can be a place where you either wait for your class to start or eat lunch and look at vehicles passing by. I wouldn’t say it is my favorite due to the noise from traffic, but it could be a good spot for friends to congregate.
To walk three flights of stairs is torture; yes, it is awful. However, when you are there, you will understand why I said this is my favorite of all the spots. It is located in classroom 329; I often go there around 3 to 4 p.m. on an afternoon. This is where I get the best views of the sun, trees with the beautiful fall leaves, and students passing by; it is an environment in which I can play with my thoughts and relax. This is where I write my five-page essays and think of topics that I would not usually have if I were around people. The best work comes from a battle with your mind and thoughts, and this is where you can have that fight!
It is important to find your solace. It might not be the firepit or the seats at Dunleavy or my classroom. Still, it can be good to find that place and make it your oasis. This will benefit your mental health and academic success.