How UTM’s Nature Trail Improved My Uni Experience

University has been great so far.

With good friends, a great campus, flexible schedules, cool assignments, and interesting opportunities. It’s everything the brochure said it would be…but

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These are the things that keep me up at 2AM in the morning apparently (from owlturd.com)

…recently, I’ve been feeling like something is missing from my university experience. Sure, I’ve tried joining clubs and I’ve made some new friends. I joined the program LAUNCH last semester to help ease my transition into university, which was interesting. I’ve tried not to limit my time to just studying, and am trying to incorporate some of my hobbies into my day. Even so, as I go about my regular routine, there’s something nagging at me. There’s something missing…

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It was only a few days ago in a conversation with my twin sister that I finally figured out what it could be.

I feel like this creeping feeling is the slow realization that I’m not using my university experience properly, where is my change? Everything is the same: I hop on the bus for an hour long commute, I go to school, I go home, I study, I sleep, and the cycle continues-nothing new.

Why does everything feel the same? Will it be this way forever? Mindless routines? Two lab reports a week, a pre-lab quiz every Friday, a club meeting on Monday, routine after routine after routine?

The answer: I needed a change. And fast.

Like many things, I have the ability to control and change this. I don’t have to be in this limbo forever. So, with an open mind, my sister and I went to try out the on-campus nature trail by IB in the fall, the one I kept hearing stories about from my LAUNCH leader.

At first, while I tried to keep an open mind, I couldn’t help but have expectations. I mean, it’s an on-campus nature trail available to everyone. I had no doubt it would be interesting and new, I just didn’t think its appearance would surprise me very much. I mean, at the end of the day, it’s just a forest. Right?

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When we reached the beginning of the trail, I was excited to see a sign that said “THIS PATH IS NOT MAINTAINED”. Oh! That could mean a lot of things, but what it screamed to me was “THIS IS AS NATURAL AS IT GETS”, which was one thing that pleasantly surprised me: I love the unbeaten path.

The first few steps in, I brushed past long branches and picked at leaves that stuck to my clothes. The entrance was narrow, and I was already feeling a thrill. This was new, this was different.

We turned the corner, and I couldn’t control the quiet little gasp that left my mouth.

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Now, I know the concept of autumn. Leaves change colour. Leaves fall. Leaves get smushed on the ground. Sure, I know it’s supposed to be really pretty in the country, but since I live in the suburbs, I’ve never really experienced the so-called “colourful wonderland” that the movies say it should be, especially in Canada.

Nothing prepared me for what I saw:

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It was like something straight out of a fairytale. The first thing that hit me was how bright everything was: the leaves, the colours, the moss, the tree trunks, the sky. The light shone through the leaves and made it seem as though the tips of the branches were on fire, as they were a bright yellow-orange. Sunlight changed dramatically; one minute, you felt like you were walking through a magical fairy world, the next minute you were trudging through a darker, more somber walkway.

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It was like something straight out of Final Fantasy VII’s Advent Children

It was a mystery I never knew existed, the change in pace I needed.

Needless to say, I enjoyed that walk very much.

Now, whenever I’m feeling a little wistful or when I’ve got a bit of extra time, I’ll grab a friend and head over to the trail that captivated my on first glance. It’s a refreshing escape from the perils of university life for a number of reasons:

  • It helps you reconnect with nature
  • It helps you reconnect with your spirituality, like a form of meditation
  • It gives you a breather from school work
  • It provides you with some exercise (you know, the kind you’ve been neglecting for the month because assignments keep piling up and there’s no time to go to the gym)
  • It rests your eyes (greenery and the colour green are therapeutic for your eyes!)

Here are the rest of the pictures. It was a great experience for me, and I highly recommend you all check it out when the weather gets warmer!

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