When I was abroad, I never expected to find spiritual and calming places. At first, I had trouble differentiating between the plethora of churches in Italy. All of the frescoes started to look the same. I became frustrated. As architecture major, I should have been able to tell and appreciate the difference.
Confronted with this predicament, I employed a different approach. I pretended that I was a researcher and that each church was a site. Acting as a researcher helped me memorize artistic and historical details. This method of active learning helped me appreciate what was going on instead of sitting back and feeling like everything looked the same. Churches that once intimidated me ended up serving a calming purpose, as I looked forward to entering each new space.
Around WashU’s campus, I try to use this same sense of curiosity in order to find new places to take a break during the hectic day. Whenever I find a new respite, I tell my friends so they can experience it for themselves. Some of the places that I enjoy visiting in order to decompress from a busy day include:
East Asian Library: Even if I am not doing work here, walking through the different levels of thin book stacks soothes me. If I sit in the right spot around 1pm, I can enjoy a sun shower. The light filters in through the windows and warms my seat. This library is one of my favorites places on campus.
The trees surrounding Mudd field: When it’s nice outside, I like to sit with my back propped up against one of the trees on Mudd field. I listen to music and watch other students scurry by on their way to class. It’s a great place to take a second to breathe.
The swing outside of Gregg: This spot is on the South Forty, but I still sometimes go here as a senior. I love how hidden it is, behind the dorm, so no one can see you. It’s a perfect place to rest if you want to be outside.
The couch next to the English Department in Dunker Hall: It is always quiet here. English teachers walk by with their coffees in hand, heading to class, but no one ever bothers me. Aside from the silence, this couch is comfortable. I like to bring my work here if I have a half an hour to spare.
My curiosity has led me to these special places at WashU. Although I do not practice religion specifically in these spots, they feel holy in some way. As I prepare to graduate, I believe these are the places I will miss the most. They provided me with quiet and inspiration during my most busy days on campus.