Before COVID-19, I was a loyal studier in Upper Farber. Yes, I know, the most unproductive study spot, but also the most fun with a convenient location near the C-Store for snack runs. But having returned to campus, I haven’t stepped foot in the library once, which wouldn’t sound great if we weren’t in a pandemic.
I’ve instead found some alternative study spots to accommodate the loss of Upper Farber, and I’ve really tried to monopolize on the outside spaces our campus has to offer. My favorite spot around campus is Chapels Field, not in the middle where you risk being hit by a frisbee, but tucked away in the corner over by the chapels. It sounds a little strange to say behind the chapels, but it offers the ideal amount of shade for when it’s hot along with enough space from where everyone else is to provide some quiet. Plus the sounds from the wooded section right next to it act as white noise, which is really peaceful. Nothing like birds chirping to inspire you to do your work, am I right?
All you need is a flat sheet, snacks and some work and you’re in business. Though, unfortunately, this study space is entirely dependent on the weather. Plus, there are two turkeys that may attack you if you encroach on their territory but are lovely from afar and honestly much nicer than the racoons of Massell Pond. Also, I’d watch out for bees. On second thought you better just study in your room until we can be in a library without fear again.
I am not fancy; I study in my room. I’ve tried the library. I have friends that stake out the little room off to the side for days on end in order to maintain control of the study space, but it just doesn’t work. The library is a place for meeting up with your friends while holding textbooks on your lap. I need absolutely no distractions in order to focus, and my dorm is the most boring, isolated place in the world. Some of you might strongly disagree. For most college students, a room is rife with colorful hangings and trinkets to ensnare attention. The trick is to design your living space in the most mundane way possible. I mean, I don’t even touch my room. I don’t add posters to the walls, and I keep any baubles and sentimental objects in the drawer. Tapestries are a sin as far as I am concerned. I’m a basement dweller at heart, however, and am used to spending days on end in a dark space, barely exiting the orbit of my bed to feed myself and visit the bathroom.
Club Office/Empty Space
When I lived on campus, there was no debate for me: The best study space is your room. However, now that I no longer live on campus, and sometimes have those annoying blocks between classes, I have had to find a suitable space on campus to study. I tried the library (near Starbucks, of course), but it was too noisy. I then tried the quiet room of the library, but that place was straight up freaky. Like I am quiet when I study, but in that room, I felt bad for taking a pen out as that seemed to be way too loud. After more exploration, I found that the truly best spot to study on campus is an empty club office, like the ones on the third and second floor of the SCC. They are perfect: quiet, but you can be as loud as you want, you have privacy and hopefully a desk too. Moral of the story: join a club with an office.
As a second semester senior, which is still crazy to say, my study location habits have evolved over my years at Brandeis. During my first semester at Brandeis, I was usually in my room studying with my roommate and other friends. Then, I shifted to the library during the latter half of my first year, sophomore year and junior year. Oh the library, one of the best “hangout” places on campus in my opinion. A great space to not only be social but also study (for the most part).
But a general public service announcement for whenever we are able to safely use the library in large quantities like before the coronavirus pandemic: it is just rude if you leave your stuff on a table and go off for hours on end. It’s just not fair to the rest of us.
When my junior year rolled around, with the growing size of the student body, but the stagnation in amount of study space, I often felt like I was walking in circles around Farber and Goldfarb trying to find a table to sit at or a chair to pull up to a table that a friend was already sitting at. Cramming seven or eight people around a small table in the library has to be one of the most entertaining, and chaotic, things I’ve dealt with throughout my years and some of my best memories.
As much as I love the library, it isn’t always the best place to study and get work done, if I’m being completely honest. Every time I was there, I got work done, but I was always constantly distracted by friends, unless I was in the quiet parts of the library (which I often was anyway). But in an effort to separate myself from others and recluse to the hermit that my close friends know me as, I started to think about different places on campus where I could study.
This may be a huge cop-out answer, but I don’t have a specific place that’s my favorite study place. During the latter half of first semester junior year and up until we were sent home in spring 2020, my favorite study spaces were just random classrooms around campus, usually in the Heller School for Social Policy or in the humanities quad. During class hours, it was sometimes difficult to find rooms to go to because of my crippling fear of just barging into a class; however, at night, it was so easy just to go into a random building and find a random classroom to study in.
Not only do these classrooms provide a change of scenery from the library, with practically no people and very little noise (unless you brought people with you, of course), but the access to resources (chalkboards, whiteboards, projectors, etc.) are unparalleled to what you could check out at the library.
So, if you’ve got a long research paper to do, need a ton of space to write out mechanisms or just want to explore campus a little more while still being productive, go out, explore and find a random classroom to go study in!
The best place to study on campus is Goldfarb 2. Admittedly, it’s been a while since I’ve been there (since I wasn’t on campus this past fall), but I imagine even under COVID-19 regulations, it’s still a perfect study hideaway. Farber is too noisy but the lower and upper levels of Goldfarb are too quiet. Goldfarb 2 is the balance of “just right” that even Goldilocks would enjoy. No one is blasting music or having group project meetings on the floor, but also no one is gonna send a dirty look your way if you drop something or even sneeze too loudly.
There are lots of different study spaces on this floor, from group desks that seat four to tiny one seaters next to the windows. My favorite spot was all the way in the back, though. There are long desk tables meant for two people, but often only used by one. It was the perfect place to set up because I had room for my laptop, giant five subject notebook and any textbooks I might need. The desks had tall barriers separating them, even giving the illusion of privacy. I’m not sure what the library looks like this semester, but I really hope I’ll get to go visit my favorite semi-secluded spot on campus.
Of course, this only applies for the early and late months of the school year and does not include the cold months. But oh my gosh, when it is a gorgeous 70°F, there is no better place to study than outside. There is something about the sunny bright outdoors that just boosts my productivity compared to the artificial light in the dorm. I almost feel more motivated to better my life when I am outside compared to when I am indoors. Bonus points if you can not only be outside but be surrounded by nature as well! I am talking about trees, flowers and wildlife all around you and soak up as many of those feel good vibes as you can!
In fact, I am pretty sure that there are studies out there that link light and nature with productivity, so it could very well not just be me! With that being said, It is definitely a compromise if it is the winter-time to open up your window and let the natural light to try and take advantage of these productivity-boosting tips!
OK, so it was a little more than a year ago when I discovered this great spot in Shiffman. It was underneath a staircase, where someone had decided to store a few cushioned chairs. Wait, stick with me. If you climbed over the ones in the front, there was actually enough room to sit in the back. And once you got back there, there was a window that let plenty of light in. You weren’t far from the world, you could hear everything that was going on, but you were separated enough to have some privacy. Time didn’t pass quite so quickly back there; it was a space to take a moment and relax, to think and to escape. It was back there that I discovered Jorge Luis Borges, one of my favorite authors. It was back there that I sequestered myself to hide from stress. It was back there that I went to make a big decision or two. And strangely enough, I’ve really missed that kind of secret privacy this last year.