Winter is coming. Which means the nights are drawing in, the trees are losing their leaves, and we’ll be waking up to more frosty mornings. And as university students, we’ll also be waking up to looming essay deadlines as the end of term draws ever closer. We’ll be stuck in the library, desperately trying to cram in that reading and finish off those essays, and for many of us we’ll only see the daylight when we leave the library to go to class, and on our morning walk to campus. Our only chance to experience the changing of the seasons will be a quick walk up through the woods on campus to get to a lecture up in the Windsor Building.
But I’d like to suggest we all take a few hours and do something different: get out there and go for a walk. Here at Holloway, we’re lucky to live in a lovely, rural area, with Windsor Great Park and the meadows of Runnymede both just a short walk away from campus. I say we should all try and get out there and get a glimpse of the changing seasons for ourselves. Have wintry walk in the woods on a frosty morning, or wander across Runnymede in the weak warmth of the November sunshine. Put down your pens and pull on your boots, put up an umbrella if it’s raining. No excuses.
“But what about my essays?” I hear you cry… Well, s tudies have shown that our minds work so much better when we’ve had the chance to get out into nature. Steve Kaplan, a psychologist from the University of Michigan, suggests that natural environments help our brains to relax, and that after a spell of wandering in the wild (or even just a relaxing stroll through the woods on campus) your brain will be refreshed, more ready than ever to get back and do those essays to the best of your ability.
So go for a walk. If you can take an afternoon away from your studies, grab some friends and wander over to the Air Forces Memorial near Kingswood Hall, and look out from the top of the hill across to London. Then you can clamber down the wooded slopes of Coopers’ Hill and explore Runnymede. Stroll around Virginia Water on a rainy day, or if you’re feeling ambitious, you can walk all the way through Windsor Great Park, following the Long Walk up to Windsor Castle. And if you don’t fancy the hike back (it’s a good eight miles or so) there’s always the 71 bus.
And if you’re sat in the library suffering from writer’s block, pick up a notepad, wrap yourself up warm and go for a wander around campus. Find somewhere to sit and think, and hopefully you’ll clear you head and find some essay inspiration. Great thinkers have always walked. Charles Darwin, Nietzsche and Rousseau all loved it, and William Wordsworth famously found inspiration for his poetry in his rambles across the Cumbrian countryside. Maybe a quick wander through campus will help you too!