Feature: Student Hobbies, Saving Grace

By Niki Soule

School is filled with plenty of stresses. Due dates rack the minds of many students whether they are fried into the back of their brain, or written down on a calendar in bright colors with X’s crossing off the days until the next much needed break, maybe even a planner covered in scribbles, and flooded with information for every class. It is an inevitable constant for school to put students through grueling hours of flipping through notes and writing papers.

Anyone walking around the University of Oregon campus might notice a significant amount of activity – people chasing down frisbees on open lawns, balancing step by step on slack lines between two trees, taking advantage of the turf fields and tracks surrounding them. U of O has plenty of places to relieve the stress of school weighing on their shoulders and many of them take advantage of it.

The hobbies many people embrace, whether they are just starting or have been a part of their lives since they first started walking, hold importance in their lives as students in many ways, shapes and forms. The Sunny Ducks took to the campus to find out exactly how these hobbies are impacting student’s work load.

You can find Lance Chau on the basketball courts just outside of the University Health Center with a couple friend and a large boom box. Lance found breakdancing six years ago while YouTubing videos with friends back home in San Francisco and he’s been enthralled ever since. When you watch the freshman let go and take in the music, you can see the beats transcending from the speakers and pulsating through his body into every dance move. It takes over every muscle and every nerve, essentially becoming a part of him. The social influence it has had on him since attending the university came as a surprise. He found himself meeting many people through this art form, taking him to places like Seattle to compete and integrate into different cultures with the the diverse crowd that comes with his hobby. It has become a social experience for Chau that he wouldn’t have had if it weren’t for dance. The piece of cardboard that becomes his dance floor has turned into an escape.

Megan Kennedy turned her hobby into her major, creating a whole new arena for enthusiasm and excitement for the future. Her passion for art has transcended a form of expression. With a paintbrush between her fingers and a canvas ready to be freed of plain loneliness. Megan paints whatever she feels, wants, or imagines, creating a unique, creative outlet for stress. Art has become a stress relief for this Chicago native who truly believe that art is not biased in anyway, which is something that motivates her love for it. “Anyone can create. Whoever you are, wherever you come from, whatever you make, it’s creativity leaving your body through your fingertips. There are so many forms of art that can be expressed in so many ways and that’s what makes it so unique,” she said. Without art, Kennedy doesn’t know where she would be. Sometimes schools hectic environment can give her less time to spend producing art, but she has taken advantage of the Craft Center here on campus. She has taken a few different varieties art courses there which makes it part of her school schedule to release the stress of her other classes.

Tyler Horst has brought his obsession with hiking to the university, which helps him escape the work load of classes and get time outdoors when needed. The sophomore from Portland recalls hikes with his dad being a frequent memory while growing up. It integrated into a love for the outdoors for Tyler. He takes advantage of the most popular hiking spot near campus, Spencer’s Butte. The fact that it is so close to campus makes for a simple energy boost, ditching the lethargic feeling of being inside with a textbook. It helps him untangle his thoughts and create quiet time for himself. It’s something he can do alone or with friends and the social interaction can become a stress reliever as well. He is always looking for new spots to hike around the Eugene area, and frequents the Outdoor Program for information and inquiries on the best places to unwind in the outdoors.

Hobbies can also lead to even more benefits like volleyball did for Maddie Magee. The D1 volleyball player for the Oregon Ducks decided to play when she was younger, and had no idea what doors it would open up for her in the future. Her hard work and dedication to the sport became a job in itself next to studying, but it has never been a regret of hers. When she isn’t practicing, you will find her studying and taking tests on the road. The University provides tutors and facilities to help their student athletes be successful with their hobbies and schoolwork. While volleyball has added stress to her busy schedule, it is also been one of the best stress relievers for her. “While I’m out there on the court it’s like nothing else in the world exists. I’m able to stop and only focus on the game for that short time. It’s also nice to take your aggression and energy and let it out during the game. I’ve really found that that works for me,” adds Maddie.

The different resources on campus have provided many students with a safe haven from the distractions of school. It becomes a place to unwind and let go of everything going on around them. They get to create relaxation for themselves with the help of their hobbies and the different places that makes them accessible. If someone has a hobby, there is most likely some place on campus to help facilitate the benefits that come with experiencing something that gives to that release. So go out and find your place to become obsessed and de-stressed.

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