Students share ways they connect with nature

A scenic view of the Coral Gables Campus. Photos: Jenny Hudak/University of Miami
By Jenny Hudak

A scenic view of the Coral Gables Campus. Photos: Jenny Hudak/University of Miami

Students share ways they connect with nature

By Jenny Hudak
As Earth Week winds to a close, University of Miami students discuss their favorite ways to unplug, get out, and connect with Mother Nature.

From long walks along waterfront trails, to scenic bike rides beneath banyan canopies, to deep diving aqua adventures—all available in Miami—there was surely no shortage of ways to celebrate this Earth Week.

Earth Day is celebrated on April 22 every year. The holiday marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970 and has since become a week-long opportunity to encourage people to step outside and connect with nature.

This Earth Week, University of Miami students shared a few of their favorite ways to unplug, get out, and connect with the planet we call home.

Bhargavi PochiBhargavi Pochi, a senior studying ecosystem science and public health, said her favorite way to connect with the outdoors is by going backpacking. While she’s no expert hiker, Pochi said the activity is a great way to unplug from the “real world.”

“I’ve only gone backpacking a handful of times, but what I love most about backpacking is the way that it connects you with people,” she said. “You get to really connect with the people you’re with or that you meet on the trail.” 

Juan Diaz RuccoJuan Diaz Rucco, a senior studying biomedical engineering, takes advantage of the lush greenery and outdoor spaces on the Coral Gables Campus to unwind between classes. 

“I usually take my studying outside. I try to take advantage of the scenery on the Foote Green, or maybe Lakeside Village, or maybe even Lake Osceola,” he said.

Natalia RoviraNatalia Rovira, a junior studying ecosystem science and policy, shared that connecting with nature is simple: sleep in it.

“Camping really brings you up close and personal with the outdoors,” Rovira shared. “People are afraid to sleep outdoors, but it’s truly the best way for me to connect with nature. I love camping for so many reasons, but it’s also a great way to stargaze and make you feel connected to Earth.”

Rovira added that her plans for the weekend include renting camping gear from the Lakeside Village Outdoor Adventures Center to go camping with friends. 

Quinn RobinsonQuinn Robinson, a first-year student studying Spanish and psychology, enjoys spending time outdoors by heading out to the nearest beach. 

“My favorite way to connect with nature is going to the beach and just standing in the water,” said Robinson, adding that she occasionally enjoys spending time paddle boarding with her friends.

Hayley FlaniganHayley Flanigan, a sophomore studying marine science and geology, uses her spare time to connect with nature through long, outdoor walks. 

“I like to just go on long walks in places that are less developed. Maybe on a trail or unpaved road,” she said. “I also just like sitting on the grass. It makes me feel grounded. I particularly like laying on the grass at night.”

Lemuel MadrigalLemuel Madrigal, a first-year student studying health science, enjoys taking his bike for a spin through South Florida. 

“One of my favorite ways to connect with nature would be to ride my bike around the neighborhood,” Madrigal said, adding that virtual classes have kept him indoors more than usual this year. “It’s a good way to stretch out, to breathe, and relax a bit.”

Briana HallBriana Hall, a sophomore studying microbiology and immunology, said her favorite book and a quiet location on campus keep her connected to the outdoors. 

“I live in Mahoney Residential College and there’s a tiny hidden space there with lots of trees and grass,” she said. “Sometimes I’ll go over there with my favorite book and have a picnic for myself just to sit outside and unwind.”