Exam season is upon us, which leads many to ask two inevitable questions: How the hell did I manage to learn so little in four months?! and Where am I going to go to study? For your answer to the first question, tune in tomorrow when I write about how to make it through exams. For your answer to the second question, today I will teach you all that I know about finding an effective study spot. You may wonder why I am sharing this knowledge with you when it could potentially jeopardize my own ability to find a study spot. Well, I thought that you deserved a reward for your loyal readership, and since I am not yet at a point when I can have giveaways for blenders and designer watchers, this is the best I can do. Also, I’ve already finished my exam (yes, singular), so I thought it was only fair that I try to benefit those who are less fortunate than I.
When I find a study spot I like, I’m going to be there for days, weeks, sometimes months. I usually stay in one area until I finish the essay I’m writing or the subject I’m studying. Sometimes I return to the area after that. Other times, I made a point of never returning again. (Hence why you will rarely see me in Taylor Library.) The first thing you need to determine before you try to find a study spot is the kind of environment you need for studying. If you need help deciding this, consult The Study Spots Flow Chart!
Decide whether you prefer silence or background noise. From what I’ve found, silent study areas are usually filled much earlier than conversation friendly areas. If you prefer to work in silence, you will either need to get to the library early in the morning or later at night. I usually aim to get to the library before ten or after seven. I walked into my favourite silent study area at 1:30 the other day, looked around, and laughed. I decided to return in the evening rather than walk laps around tables in the hopes that someone was going to leave. An option if you like silence and solitude is to find an obscure location and set up there. A friend once told me he liked to study on the fourth floor of the Student Services Building because there’s a big table and no one around. Of course there is no one around, I wanted to say, no one knows where you are! And that suited him well.
This is the library on St. Patrick’s Day. Needless to say, I was the only one there, and I ended up bonding with the custodian.
If you don’t mind background noise, there are more options available to you. Often I prefer to study in areas with background noise, because too much time in a library can sometimes make me feel like the world has come to an end and we’re still writing essays because we don’t know what else to do. Often I study in the University Community Centre because it tends to be well decorated and I like watching the dance practices as a study break. (The Indo-Canadian dance team is my favourite.)
I like to study at the gym because it has big windows, comfortable chairs, a lot of outlets, and I can take a break by working out. Once told my mother I was studying at the gym, and she thought that was really strange. Contrary to how it may sound, I’m not studying during a spin class or while I sit next to the free weights. The gym was designed around an area meant for studying.
When I’m not studying in the place I like to work out, I’m studying in the places when I get my coffee. There’s an art to finding the right coffee place to study near. The conversation has to be just right, and I can’t run into too many people I know, otherwise I’ll be contributing to the interesting conversation rather than studying like I was supposed to be. Usually I’m by a Tim Hortons that’s in one of the engineering buildings because the lines for coffee tend to be short, and the conversations around me tend to witty or based on number. Conversations around the Tim Hortons in the science building, on the other hand, tend to be subtly condescending, as friends discuss where they want to go to med school. I avoid that Tim Hortons. Late night cafe studying can be nice, if you can afford the time to get there. Once you find a cafe that works for you, it’s probably best not to switch up your locations. This is what happened when I moved to the cafe across the street from my usual.
Strange lighting and an open door on a cold night did not contribute to a positive study atmosphere. The best thing to do is try out a few locations that work well with your lifestyle and studying preference. If you like smoothies and listening to death metal while you study, maybe Booster Juice would make an ideal study spot for you. If you like nature and you aren’t studying in Canada in December, outdoor study spots could work well. And if you like eating carrots and celery while you work, for the sake of everyone around you, don’t study on the silent floor.
Song of the Day: Guns+Ammunition by July Talk