Ten years ago, I was staying at a small college in Quebec, Canada, as an international exchange student. Just before the autumn, I became friends with another exchange student from France, who happened to live only a few doors away from my room in the same dormitory. We started hanging out together, and during our first few meetings, I told her how much I loved the way our campus was closely surrounded by nature.
My friend majored in biology, and in one of her classes, she was engaging in a lot of bird watching activities. One day, she told me that she and her class had been to a very nice forest just behind the campus.
“A forest?” My eyes twinkled with excitement. In my entire life, I had never lived close to any proper forest. “I didn’t know there was a forest here! Where is it?”
So, my friend took me to the forest. It was indeed right behind the campus. After 3 minutes of walking from our dormitory, we were already at the entrance to the forest.
There was a narrow, paved path guiding through the forest. As we walked under the tall trees, I could hear the birds chirping and chipmunks running. It was so peaceful and dreamy.
I loved the experience so much that from the next day, I started going to the forest by myself every morning. I brought a book with me and once I reached a place where less people came by, I sat down on the path and read the book for about an hour.
When the autumn came and all the leaves were gone, I still went there. When the winter came along with a thick layer of snow, I still went there with my book every morning, covered in my thick winter jacket and winter pants. In deep snow, the silence and the sense of peace were even more profound, and I would smile to myself as I sat down in the snow and read my book.
From time to time, I would tell my friend how much I was loving the forest she had introduced to me, and she would reply, laughing,
“You are now going there much more frequently than I do!”
That little forest was truly my joy and sanctuary during the eight months I spent on campus as an exchange student.