Experiencing the Experience

By Natasha Rodriguez

Technology has become a huge part of our lives. Especially now, we have our cell phones right in the palm of our hands. We spend hours of our day looking at a screen often times forgetting what is around us.  We have lost what it feels like to get away from social media, emails, group chats and phone notifications and just live in the moment. We constantly feel the need to share what is going on in our lives. What happened to just enjoying the moment?

I have seen a few college campuses throughout Florida and Florida International University’s BBC campus is one of the prettiest–yet students seem to often miss what it offers. I have seen this campus with a different lens than most. For five years, FIU has not only been my choice for education, but also my workplace and my home away from home. Every now and then I go for walks around campus as a way to get away from everything.

There is a spot that overlooks Biscayne Bay where I always go to find peace. I always take the same path from my classroom to the water. But I recently decided to take a different route. I have gotten so use to keeping up on social media that I automatically reached for my phone to Snapchat my walking experience and share it with others. I put my phone in my back pocket but kept pulling it out as I walked. I kept this cycle going for 30 minutes. I was disappointed in myself that I was unable to go for a simple, quiet walk without being glued to my cell phone. Finally, I put the phone in my bag and left it there.


I walked through a bush that was covered with vivid hot pink flowers. Why had I never seen this bush before, it is almost impossible to miss? It is so aesthetically pleasing! As I was walking through the bush, I stopped to get a whiff of the flowers. Reaching the end of the pathway, I spotted something bright green that stood out in the hedge of hot pink. As I got a closer look, I realized it was a baby iguana. I personally hate lizards or any animal related to lizards. At first, the iguana frightened me, but I could not get over how his lime green skin managed to shine in the pink bushes. In just those five minutes of putting my phone away, I was able to see things differently. I continued to walk.

When I walk to the bay,  I usually sit on a nearby bench.  This time was different. I sat on a giant rock that was covered with shade from the palm fronds above me and slightly moist from the lapping water. I sat on the rock facing the water with my back towards the campus, which also was different than the way I typically sit there. While perched on the rock, the one sound I heard was the water hitting the rocks again and again. It was so peaceful to hear.

I got up from the rock and decided to change my position and lay on the grass instead. While I was itchy and bugs crawled on me, the sensation of the grass touching my skin felt refreshing. I lay on the grass looking up at the sun beaming down. It was a warm,  sunny Miami day, and  I could feel the sweat dripping down my back. Who wears dark colors on a hot day? Only me. After cooking in the sun, I decided to get up and head back inside.

I have always joked that I am an “animal whisperer.” While walking, my phone still of out of reach, I was able to have an animal encounter. A squirrel on an oak tree had an acorn in its mouth. The squirrel seemed to be protecting the acorn as if I was going to take it away. I slowly approached it just to see what it would do. The squirrel started growling. I didn’t even know squirrels were capable of growling! I always considered them cute, little animals. I guess not.

This walk that I have taken many times before felt different. I/we have become so obsessed with recording our lives– to relive later and receive “likes” and “followers”– that we do not really live in the present anymore. Our phones are robbing everyday experiences. While I was on this walk, time slowed down. And it was just me minus digital distractions. My mind was at ease. I was able to listen to nature talking to me. If we could all just put our phones down and experience our experience, we would have a real story to share. I am going to miss this campus and my walks.


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