GatorWalk Henry Nguyen

Do you feel like a little fish in a huge ocean? This is how it was for me. The University of Florida is a great place for interaction, getting involved in organizations, groups and clubs. But it can feel overwhelming at times, you will find every part of the world on campus. This is a place for exploration.

A simple yet effective way to get to know someone is to go on a walk together. Walking is great. It combines the casual and intimate. The physical activity helps loosen your guard. Motion is said to correlate with emotion thus walking with someone can be is perfect to getting to know them deeper. It can help De-stress and allow you to get to know someone without all the worries of campus life. The constant change of scenery makes conversation easy, you can talk about what you see, smell, hear, and feel. Comment on anything around. You may ask, where’s a good place to walk? If you hate over crowded places with busy foot traffic and people trying to throw flyers your way, then here are some suggestions. I’ve been all around campus and there are great places to walk.

Rietz Bus Loop Bridge

Great places to walk with someone are hidden pathways. These pathways are bridges; a little different from the brick and Gothic architecture you’ll see around campus. It reminds me of walking on a pier. As if I’m getting a fresh perspective of the campus.

We start our journey at the Reitz Bus Loop

This place is a central location for many of the bus routes but right behind the benches is a path that leads to the Reitz Union Amphitheater. This bridge connects the Rietz Union to the bus loop and along this path you will see an oval man-made pond. It great to come here either to strolls along the grassy coliseum or take a seat outside to enjoy the scenery. Also having the Constants Theater right around the corner you'll probably catch people dancing outside. This place incorporates the beauty of nature right in the heart of campus. The grassy green hippodrome and waterside pond are wonderful representation of the elements. Don’t worry, catching the bus home and to class is easy because it’s right there.

Lake Alice Bridge

You got it right, there is an actual lake on campus. Further down Museum Road going towards Fraternity Row is Lake Alice. This walk is a bit longer than the Reitz bus loop but well worth it if you venture the whole way. There's also buses that will take you nearby. Along the walk down Museum there are all different types of Fraternity houses; each has its own unique set up and architectural style. As you arrive to the lake, there is a nature trail that acts like a portal and transports you into the wilderness. After you’ve done a good bit of walking, there trees far enough apart to set up hammocks and benches to relax. The characteristic of the lake compliments talks about the past, an unraveling chat about ones past is fun to share with new/old friends. This is a great place to reflect about oneself together. During the evening hours of the day, the bat cage is a glorious site to see. The sky is being painted with black fluttering bats and dark silhouettes of each bat covers the sunset sky. It’s as if someone is taking a bucket of black paint and tossing it to the sky.

Gale Lemerade Bridge

Walking during the day is great, however my favorite is walking at night. The bright sunlit day fills me with energy and the dark night adds an element of thrill and chill. This begins our night walk.
  • Across the transportation Garage on the intersection of Gale Lemerard and Mowry Road is the “Lemerand Bridge” known for its L-shape feature. It surrounds an empty field mainly used for the Gator Band. In the fall semester during game season you can catch the band practicing their marching half time show here. This bridge was recently built cutting a path between the Mowry and Gale. The unique aspect of this bridge is the white florescent lights that light up the path. The beaming lights highlight the material of the bridge. The wood flooring shines best and entices people to walk through it. This bridge can spark an open mind and open heart "talk".
As you can imagine, this campus isn’t small. To the contrary, it’s quite massive. Through my three and a half years here, I still haven’t visited every corner of campus. Once I get to campus, I am usually here all day. For those students who live in the dormitories, you’re here all the time. Might as well see what's around.

Our last stop is located at the Southeast side corner of campus. Betty Towers and Sorority Row are located near here. A little further up the road is Norman field. The bridge looks like a double helix hence the name DNA Bridge. The visual appeal of this bridge makes it another favorite of my night walks with friends. The intertwining aesthetic of the bridge evokes a sense of connection. On the bridge you can find “Love Locks,” a small lock shared between two people and the key is thrown away symbolizing the commitment between two people. The DNA Bridge is different from the other bridges for it has a top; it’s more like a tunnel. On one end of the bridge is a path that leads through a portion of UF Shands hospital. The other end continues down a mile long path perfect for biking, running or walking.

In a fast-paced, busy lifestyle we’re living today it can be difficult to connect with friends, colleagues, and acquaintances around campus. Here’s what I propose, you don’t need to go off campus and go on an hour lunch or dinner to build that connection with someone. I understand it can be hard to organize hangouts but I believe all it takes is some quality time together. One way you can do that is by walking and exploring UF campus.

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