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After a year and a half of blankly staring at computers screens for hours on end, a quarter on campus was the breath of fresh air we all yearned for. With fall quarter came the opportunity to see and talk to friends in person, and enjoy a sense of normality by walking around campus. It was during fall quarter that I realized how much I had missed UC Davis’ abundance of green and open space.

During my first year, I spent hours at the arboretum walking the trails and reading on the green grass, or eating lunch and watching the squirrels run around. When on campus, there is always an open space of grass every few feet where one can sit and relax. 

Now as we settle into the winter quarter and into the world of online classes once again, the sense of feeling trapped surfaces. In the first week of coming back to my apartment and having online classes, I began to miss the feeling of walking around campus surrounded by a multitude of trees and grass. 

I grew up in a low-income neighborhood where the streets lacked sidewalks and trees, where one had to drive ten minutes to the nearest park, and trash was dumped in every other street corner. It is not the type of neighborhood where one feels encouraged to take afternoon walks. That is why when I moved to Davis I was excited about the opportunity to take advantage of the arboretum, the greenbelts all around town, and the town’s walkability. 

Feeling overwhelmed and suffocated by the walls of my apartment, I decided to explore my neighborhood. I had always been aware of my close proximity to the long bike path that stretches across the whole border of West Davis. One can always see people biking, walking, running, and roller skating along it. However, I was unaware I lived one single street away from a small park. The park has a spacious green area full of trees and a colorful playground with basketball and tennis courts. When I found the park I felt a surge of relief flow through me. 

Prior to winter quarter, I had never taken the time to explore the neighborhood around me, take walks, rollerskate along the bike bath, or walk to the park to play basketball with my housemates. I was accustomed to the condition of my hometown neighborhood where I could not venture outside the lines of my home to enjoy nature. 

Now as a new year rolls around, along with a new quarter, I have made it a goal to take advantage of Davis’ walkability and abundant nature. Shutting down my computer, closing social media apps, and going outside these past few weeks to enjoy the chill air of winter and the sun’s warmth have really improved my mental stability and mood. 

I encourage every UC Davis student to go outside and take advantage of the free and green spaces town is filled with. There’s a way to combat the weariness brought with winter quarter and online classes. 

Maria Martinez Castro is a third-year at UC Davis majoring in English with a minor in Professional Writing. She enjoys going on road trips with friends, reading, writing, roller skating, and dancing in her free time. Maria hopes to pursue a career in journalism after graduation and create meaningful change in the field of social justice with her writing.
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