Every morning I wake up in bright sunlight and refreshing air. I can feel the wind blowing through the window into my room. I take a deep breath to start my day. Wow! What a nice feeling, so refreshing. When you take a look outside, you can see many trees standing high above the ground, and their leaves still wet from the morning dew. You walk outside the building, sun shining onto your face and body, surrounded by reams of flowers as you walk through.
There are tons of activities available for students at PUC who want to be productive for the day. For example, taking a hike to the Back 40s or taking a walk to Linda Falls with friends is a significant activity to enjoy. There are plenty of flowers, trees, and animals to view in the Back 40s. It is a fantastic place to have alone time with God, especially in the morning. It is one of my favorite places to go when having a bad day or wanting to spend time with friends.
Linda Falls to me is considered one of my favorite places to be. There is a waterfall and in front of the waterfall sits a huge rock where you can lay on to relax. While relaxing on the rock, you can hear many different animals around you, especially hearing birds calling to their friends or family. Don’t feel like hiking? Well, there are plenty of grassy areas for you to sit, which can be a great place to sit and talk to friends. While talking to friends, you can still enjoy the sun shining on you and your friends; tall trees give a little shade so you won’t be too heated. Nature here is satisfying to be around and a great place to worship God.
Do you know there are studies that show being in nature actually makes you smarter? (Don’t believe us? Check out our “Five Reasons Why Being in Nature is Good for You” blog post to learn more!) What better place to spend your college years than surrounded by hundreds of acres of beautiful forest, trails, and vineyards! The peaceful setting provides the perfect atmosphere for students, whether you’re studying outside on a blanket or taking a break to adventure into the forest.
If you’re looking for ways to incorporate nature into your life, here are five suggestions of outdoor activities to do while you’re a student at PUC!
Hike to Inspiration Point
PUC’s back 40 property has over 30 miles of hiking and biking trails, across ridges and valleys. Ask most students at PUC, and they’ll tell you their favorite Sabbath afternoon hike is to Inspiration Point, which is a huge cliff (safely cordoned off with a railing!) with a lookout offering beautiful vistas of the neighboring Pope Valley.
Marvel at the Wonders of Linda Falls
Did you know there’s a waterfall near PUC? A short hike from campus takes you to the infamous Linda Falls, where you can climb around moss-covered rocks, get your feet wet, or just relax and take in its magical and peaceful sights.
Star Gaze at the Young Observatory
Napa Valley’s incredible views don’t just include what you can see from the top of a mountain. Look up! The college’s Young Observatory, a fully functional and modern observatory that is the prized jewel of the department of physics, offers the opportunity to gaze into the heavens. Spot the Big-Dipper or catch a glimpse of a shooting star. Featuring a Celestron (CGE1400 14-inch Schmidt with a 3910 mm focal length) telescope, the observatory is used for lab classes twice a week by Astronomy classes and open for public viewings two or three Friday nights per quarter.
See the Sights at Mount St. Helena
The most strenuous on this list, the hike up the majestic Mount St. Helena in nearby Calistoga is a 2,068-foot climb over 5.1 miles to the summit. Once you’re at the top though, your hard work is rewarded with breathtaking views of the valley terrain below. On clear days, Mt. Tamalpais in Marin and Mt. Diablo near Walnut Creek can be seen, and some have even claimed to see Mt. Shasta, 192 miles away.
Explore Beyond the Valley
Northern California has limitless options for PUC students interested in spending time outdoors beyond just what’s in the Napa Valley. There are plenty of beaches within a short distance of the college. Grab a blanket, a Frisbee, a guitar, and your friends and spend an afternoon on the coast. You can also raft down the Russian River, ski at Lake Tahoe, and surf at Ocean Beach in San Francisco. With so much to explore, you’ll never be bored!
We love living in Northern California, and we know you’re going to love living here too.
An aerial shot of just a slice of PUC’s 1,600 acres.
There are countless studies about the health benefits of spending time in nature, from memory improvement to reducing stress to increasing creativity. With over 1,600 acres of land, PUC’s unique location promotes active learning, both in and outside of the classroom. Here are just five reasons why studying in an environment like PUC can be beneficial to both your physical and mental health.
It can reduce stress.
According to a 2014 study conducted in Japan, participants who walked in a forest showed significantly lower heart rates and higher heart rate variability (which indicates less stress and more relaxation) as well as reported having a better mood and less anxiety than participants who had taken a walk in an urban setting. A similar study in Finland came to the same conclusion, where participants took a walk for as little as 20 minutes and yet still exhibited positive results.
It can help prevent depression.
There are great psychological benefits to spending time in nature, one of which being that it can help prevent depression. A 2015 study conducted by Stanford University featured in TheAtlantic found participants who took a 90-minute walk through nature had less obsessive and negative thoughts than participants who walked in an urban setting.
Editor’s Note: Depression and anxiety are serious issues and nature isn’t always the cure. If you are experiencing depression or anxiety, please seek professional assistance for their input on how best to proceed.
It can help increase short-term memory.
One health benefit to being in a rural setting that might be of particular interest to college students is that it has been linked to improving short-term memory, which can be helpful if you need to do some last minute cramming! In a 2008 study by the University of Michigan, participants were split into two groups following a memory test; a group that walked around an arboretum while the other walked down a busy city street. Upon their return, all participants took the test again, and those who walked among trees scored close to 20 percent better compared to the first time they took the test. The results for the group who walked on the street did not improve.
It increases creativity.
The more time you spend outdoors and away from the stresses of daily life, the greater your level of creativity, according to an article by the Huffington Post. A group of backpackers were given the Remote Associates Test, a standard test of creativity, before going on a long hike. Another group of backpackers were given the test as well, but this time it was proctored four days into their hike. These backpackers scored nearly 50 percent higher in creativity compared to the first group.
It makes you happier.
According to a study from 2014 featured in Psychology Today, there is a direct correlation between nature and happiness. Participants were asked a series of questions to measure their connectedness to things such as family, friends, country, culture, music, and nature. Researchers found the relationship between nature and happiness was highly significant.
There are endless opportunities to spend time in nature at PUC; from biology research trips in Alaska to working with the Land Trust of Napa County to clear shrubbery in a nearby forest. There are also several outdoor exercise science courses, such as canoeing, cycling, and jogging in the college’s forest property. PUC has also offered several specialized summer courses, including workshops on watercolor and biology research, at the Albion Retreat and Learning Center, the college’s field station on the Mendocino coast. Come be a PUC Pioneer and immerse yourself in God’s beautiful Creation. To talk with an enrollment counselor, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (800) 862-7080, option 2.
Students enjoy a run on one of the many trails of the college’s property.