Find your place in green space

Dylan Webb

Another school year at Kent State means another set of new beginnings: new friends, new freedoms and new stresses. Incoming freshmen might find the stress of adapting to a new way of life particularly stressful.

College students sometimes cope with this stress in the form of off-campus partying or binge drinking in the dorms, allowing themselves one night to forget their worries at the price of heavy consequences.

I present a simple and healthy alternative for them: spend time in nature.

The nature of college drinking is huge, especially for freshmen free from the gaze and questions of their parents. It starts as a weekend pick-me-up, becomes a habit of weekday partying, and eventually becomes an everyday affair.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “(One) in (four) college students report academic consequences as a result of drinking.”

This includes skipping class, forgetting assignments or not studying until right before a test—habits detrimental to a GPA or retaining learned material.

When I have been asked what I do in my spare time, I listed a few places I have used as an adventure. People have been shocked; they didn’t know these places even existed.

Let me name a few parks and programs within walking distance one can use to enjoy the nature of Northeast Ohio: Fred Fuller Park, Towner’s Woods, the Portage Hike and Bike Trail, the Crooked River Adventures, and that’s just to name a few. Countless other local paths and nature-oriented programs are just a quick Google search away.

At the beginning of my freshman year, an adviser with great wisdom told us how we could indeed have sober, clean fun in college.

I snickered and giggled at that until I partied myself out. After sticking on the clean and narrow, I realized how true that wisdom was.

One of my best experiences at Kent State was when I decided to go kayaking in May—something I had never done before. It had always been on my mind, and with the prompting of my friends, I decided to give it a go.

As we prepared to set sail, the boater told us how kayaking really had become a new buzz for him, replacing drinking. The fast-thinking required to gracefully glide through the rapids or dodge a duck family sent my adrenaline soaring.

Next would come peaceful lulls, which allowed us to explore the sites on the shore. From waterfalls to abandoned boating platforms to the untainted tableau of nature, you can’t find these sites anywhere else.

Hobbies in nature are really a therapeutic way to bond with friends or even have that space to just be you. It’s a natural high without legal or bodily consequences.

At the end of the day, a sublime moment in nature and the artistic appreciation of its divine beauty is far more fulfilling than any frat party or night of binge drinking at the bars will ever be.

As a plus, you’ll remember it too.

Dylan Webb is a columnist for The Kent Stater, contact him at [email protected]