Above: Students Maia Vital and Taylor Barrett enjoy some quality time outside on a shaded bench in Rivers Green. 

Students at the College of Charleston are spending the last days of the semester in the many green spaces offered around campus. If not studying for finals in these sunny spots, students are playing games with friends, hanging with their pets or simply soaking in some sun.

Numerous studies suggest that natural light helps boost mood and reduces feelings of stress and anxiety. From Rivers Green to the Cistern Yard to Stern Gardens – and even Marion Square – College of Charleston students have no shortage of green spaces to help keep them focused and stress-free during finals. 

katie cole with her dog

Katie Cole and her dog, Willie Nelson, enjoy some sunshine on Rivers Green.(Photos by Justice Wehrmeyer)

On a recent warm, sunny afternoon, Marion Square and Rivers Green were filled with students searching to relieve their stress and enjoy the nice weather. First-year students Charlotte Bradshaw and Lilly Nichols, two sun worshippers in Marion Square located just a block from campus in the heart of downtown Charleston, love that they can take in the sights, sounds and people of the city so close to the College.  

“I really enjoy the people watching,” says Bradshaw. 

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“I like how we have a lot of different options for places to go,” adds Nichols, who’s majoring in English.  

Katie Cole, a first-year student majoring in psychology, and her puppy, Willie Nelson, often frequent Rivers Green and Stern Gardens on sunny days.  

“I think that Stern Gardens is super underrated,” says Cole, of the tidy garden and turtle filled pond tucked behind the Stern Student Center, adding that the back of the garden is “so pretty.”  

Sophomores: Kyle Carpentier, Simon Vaughn, Holden Silverman, Andrew Langsam, John Carter, and Isaiah Shatz

Kyle Carpentier, Simon Vaughn, Holden Silverman, Andrew Langsam, John Carter and Isaiah Shatz like to play spike ball at Marion Square.

Simon Vaughn, a sophomore majoring in commercial real estate finance, says he and his buddies often come out to Marion Square to play a game or two of spike ball. Vaughn agrees that urban green spaces such as Marion Square are unique to the College of Charleston experience.   

“I’ve been to other colleges. [They’re] nothing quite like this where everyone can gather around in the sun and play spike ball or volleyball,” he says.  

Meanwhile, first-year students Maia Vital and Taylor Barrett spent the afternoon chatting on a bench just outside of Rivers Green near Addlestone Library.  

When asked “On a scale from 1-10, how much more likely are you to study or de-stress in an outdoor space rather than an indoor space?” both answered 9 out of 10.  

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Vital expressed her love for the outdoor spaces offered at the College.  

“Most other colleges don’t have that. I feel like it’s because we’re downtown, we can’t have huge grass areas, so they’re so special to the campus,” says Vital, who’s majoring in biology. “It’s so welcoming. Everyone’s like ‘Yeah, we’re all outside!’” 

Without question, the green spaces around campus are the places to go for a break from the classroom, and that being outside, whether it be for studying, relaxing or playing a game of spike ball, is a therapeutic experience for students that keeps them focused on their studies. 

“Being outside definitely relieves my stress for sure,” says Vaughn.