Before I moved to Rochester to attend college, I never realized how much you come to appreciate what is missing from your life during college, its importance, and the subtle role it plays.
For me, it was the heat and life in the tropical Singapore that helped me discover my love for the water. The condominium I live in has an amazing resort-like feel with a huge pool and beach chairs. Naturally, when kids and adults are constantly in the pool, swimming or splashing about, you get drawn in with the festive atmosphere. I had learnt how to swim when I was a kid, but I wasn't great at it. Here in Singapore, I improved my swim techniques and pace with my fabulous Danish coach, and I came to enjoy the water. I began to embrace the heat that always bothered me, and in fact, I quite liked basking in the sun, thinking of swimming in the cool waters later. I swam when I needed to think, when I was stressed, or when I couldn't think at all. There was some magic about jumping into the pool, as if jumping into the blue ocean waters, swimming against the current (well, there it was more current when the kids splashed about).
I didn't quite realize this therapeutic nature of a good swim until I was in college. Now and then, when I get sick of using the gym, or I just need a change, or even if I miss my gorgeous pool, I walk over to Goergen Athletic Center's aquatic center and jump into the water I so dearly love and miss. It is strange because every time I swim, it's as if all the stress of classes and homework, any homesickness, fear or dread just ebbs away. Those thirty minutes of soaring through the water are my "downtime," "alone time" or whatever else you name it—it's the time when nothing else matters but you, and the goodness and power of cutting through the water is all that overwhelms you. I come back refreshed, ready to take on the massive amounts of work and the busy schedule awaiting my junior year in college.
Finding a "passion" (or perhaps a milder "love") is important to relieve that stress in college—may it be any sport that you love, or just going to the gym, or even just doing some photography. You need your alone time to think, reflect, realize, and come up with your next plan of action to tackle the life ahead, especially in college when work can get stressful or overwhelming.
So, swimming is my downtime. What's yours?