Sunset on the Thompson rooftop. Marina Sun/MiC. Buy this photo.

Lately, I’ve been finding it hard to identify the line where work stops and rest begins. Before this year, I was able to segment my days with commutes through hallways or greetings to new classmates, but as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact traditional schooling structures, I can’t help but feel like my days have blurred into an indiscernible cycle where Zoom polls and Instagram stories don’t seem much different.

Unfortunately, I can’t bring about the conclusion of a pandemic or dispel online classes for the rest of the semester, so on days when another glance at my computer screen is sure to induce extreme frustration, I take a walk around Ann Arbor.

Sure, bustling classes have evolved into painfully silent breakout rooms, and even the most enthusiastic of professors have their mood dampened when forgetting to “share screen,” but one thing that never fails to excite me is the diverse atmosphere of campus. Here are three of my favorite Ann Arbor spots to visit on my daily walk.

  1. The Law Quadrangle

This is the perfect place to pass through, especially as the weather becomes warmer. Walking off State Street and through the opening arches feels like entering a new world (Harry Potter vibes, anyone?), and there’s a sense of calmness floating through the air. Bonus points if you go later in the evening when the multitude of street lamps shine a warm light on the intricate architecture. Even on the busiest days, I know that spending a couple minutes navigating the peaceful walkways in the Law Quad is sure to reinvigorate me with the conviction that everything is as it’s meant to be.

  1. Thompson Parking Structure Rooftop

A must-visit spot for optimal sunset viewing. Plus, there’s something about looking over Ann Arbor from way up above that gives me a sense of newfound perspective and power in mydaily accomplishments. If you’re an avid people watcher, this is the perfect spot to observe passersby on Thompson Street, from new couples walking tightly together to groups of friends debating over which bubble tea store to frequent. At around 7PM, the air gets a little crisper, and that stinging feeling of the breeze hitting my face coupled with an indescribable blend of sunset colors is the perfect conclusion to any overwhelming day.

  1. The Ross (School of Business’s) Courtyard

I definitely never thought I’d say this, but somehow the words “Ross” and “peaceful” have become correlated in my mind. No thanks to internship culture but all thanks to the Ross Courtyard, which provides a moment of serenity among the seemingly never-ending movement of school and club work. The multitude of glass and terracotta creates an earthy environment, and the traffic from nearby roads never gets the opportunity to enter through the courtyard wind tunnel. There’s an underground study area, lots of trees and an overall stillness that is a rare treat for students traveling along the busy sidewalk of Tappan Avenue.

If you’ve been feeling like me lately, overwhelmed and desperate to escape from the grasp of a computer screen, talk a walk around Ann Arbor (or wherever you may be!) and discover the hidden locations and ideal lookout points that can recenter your day.

Columnist Marina Sun can be contacted marinasn@umich.edu