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The Daily Tar Heel

Seize the ?nal days to expand horizons

April is an interesting crossroads for students here and on countless other campuses. While Chapel Hill bursts in color and the weather turns wonderful (for the most part), we cover our heads and run inside to make friends with our textbooks.

Certainly, it is important to properly prepare for every obligation at semester’s end. At the same time, it is just as essential to goof off in a way that strengthens your focus and reinvigorates you to study effectively.

So I encourage everyone who needs a break to set aside some time to discover something new. Block off a morning or afternoon on your calendar to relax completely, finally try what your friends have been recommending to you or set out to do something outside the routine. If you ever have the urge to venture beyond the 100 block of Franklin Street, there’s a whole lot more to find.

Seeking a new experience is a worthy goal at any time; at this juncture, though, it is especially advisable because it may actually help your memory. There is experimental evidence which shows that novel experiences enhance behavioral retention — a good reason to try something new in the days before final examinations. Further, there is support for the hypothesis that structured free time increases ability to stay on task.

With these observations in mind, why not take a couple of hours to find what lies beyond familiar territory?

It is not even necessary to leave campus to find a good way to broaden your experiences; in some cases, it is simply a matter of finding a place nestled away to find a novel way to unwind. The Carolina Outdoor Education Center on the eastern edge of campus has ample space for tennis, volleyball and disc golf. And I urge you not to make the mistake of overlooking Coker Arboretum. The arboretum is surprisingly peaceful, spacious and verdant. I could easily let an afternoon pass without wanting to leave.

There is, of course, much to be found beyond the University’s acreage. Catch a J bus to Carrboro and grab awesome garlic fries at Tyler’s or delicious Mexican food at the trucks dotting the town’s roadsides. Weaver Street Market and Johnny’s are such cool places to shop that it is easy to slap yourself for not discovering them sooner.

And it only takes a little desire to go even further. Bicycle out to Maple View Farm and eat some ice cream while looking over the fields. Head down to Jordan Lake and spend an afternoon tending the grill or taking a swim.

If you absolutely cannot be pried away from your studies, then at least inject a little variety into how you go about preparing. Take advantage of the sheer number of buildings on campus to find a new favorite study area. The couches in the Graham Memorial lounge are worth the trek to the northern extreme of campus, for example.

Or seek out the Music Library in the basement of Wilson Library to borrow background music that creates exactly the setting you need to be productive.

We will all have to buckle down in the coming days. But that should serve as no excuse for us to stop discovering and enjoying new things about the place we have decided to come to live, work and play.

Noah Brisbin is a columnist for the Daily Tar Heel. He is a second year law student from Salisbury. Contact him at nbrisbin@email.Unc.Edu.

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