by Madeleine Brown
In September and January tumbleweeds practically blow through the desolate stacks of college and university libraries. Skip forward a few months and library study space is as competitive as the rental market. Even if you manage to scoop up a spare seat as its former occupant runs screaming into the bathroom, chances are the dejected atmosphere will kill what little confidence remains. So I say keep your sanity in check and study elsewhere. Every campus has its own unique nooks and crannies—you can picture them now, huh? Here are three alternative on-campus study spots to get you through exam season.
Despite their pleas and offers, professors rarely receive visitors during the office hours. Sure, you may find the occasional overenthusiastic teacher’s pet or—during the final two weeks of class in particular—the desperate slacker. However, typically department hallways are as empty as the library at the start of term. Search out a lingering bench or empty corner and set up shop. As long as you maintain the eerie silence, you shouldn’t be shooed away by some administrator. And consider yourself in good favour if your prof spots you mid-cram session.
Gym locker room
Once new school year resolutions dry up, so has any gym activity—community members and varsity athletes excepted. If you gravitate to the walled-off desks in the library, enclosed changing rooms are your equivalent in the gym locker room. Otherwise you better be comfortable sitting cross-legged. Either you’ll adopt the corner squat of the departmental offices study space, or you’ll transform the benches, which run parallel to lockers, into your study surface. Keep your eyes on your notes and you shouldn’t upset anyone. That said in all seriousness, I pulled off my most focused studying on the treadmill. The combination of physical activity and limited distractions allowed me to soak up exam material over the course of a thirty- to sixty-minute run. The elliptical and stationary bikes offer similar results.
As long as the weather hold off, get outside. Despite good intentions, most students have moved into the library full-time by the start of the month, so your campus’ green spaces are likely spacious and quiet. Pack like you would for any good picnic: a not-so-precious blanket, snacks, layers, sunscreen, hydration and sunglasses. (And your study materials too of course.) Avoid areas overrun with local wildlife, and ensure your chosen green space is indeed public. I do not condone invasion of private property—even to study. Clean up after your study session and leave the space as you found it. Even if you walk away still mystified by organic chemistry at least you’ll have a start on your vacation glow.