What's UP with Natalie: Find your perfect study spot
From The Commons to Cathedral Coffee, Community Engagement Editor Natalie Nygren lays out the best on and off-campus study spots for finals season.
Hey Pilots, Natalie here. With only a few short weeks left in this semester (thank goodness), it’s time to start buckling down so we can pass our finals and save our grades.
If you’re anything like me, finding spots to study that won’t provide distractions is a challenge. Trying to do homework at home makes me suddenly inclined to clean every square inch of my house, studying in the library puts me in close proximity to chat with all my friends and the Pilot House just creates an excuse to eat endless baskets of french fries and raid Mack’s Market. For these reasons, alternative study spots are my jam.
To help you avoid study distractions, I came up with a list of my favorite study spots both on and off campus and some tips to minimize distractions while you’re trying to buckle down and get stuff done.
An empty Franz classroom
While scheduled lectures are the priority in Franz classrooms, there are times in the evenings and on weekends when classrooms are completely empty and free for you to use. Take advantage of the projector screens and desk space or get a group of friends together for a private study session.
Located just a mile and a half down the street from UP, Cathedral Coffee is one of my all time favorite spots to get some work done during the daytime. Grab your laptop and some headphones and drive over — or walk if it’s nice outside — for a chai tea latte and some delicious homemade banana bread. The baristas at Cathedral are some of the kindest people and there are plenty of seats to hang and focus on some studying.
St. Mary’s Lounge
Like most students, you probably only visit St. Mary’s for EspressoUP. But St. Mary’s is also the perfect space for working or collaborating on group projects, with comfy seats and just the right amount of background noise, as it houses ASUP, Student Activities, the Moreau Center and more.
While this coffee shop is located a bit far from campus, I think it’s worth the drive and it’s perfect for all-nighters when the library closes at 2 a.m. Southeast Grind is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So, if you’re up writing a paper at 3 a.m. with nowhere else to go, you can drive south to this super cute spot and try one of their unique coffee creations amongst other students who also procrastinated. The Charging Tiger is my personal favorite drink, and as an added bonus, they serve up homemade quesadillas 24 hours a day.
The Commons during non-meal times
The Commons is pretty loud and busy during meal times, but it’s almost empty in between meals and can be the perfect place to study if you enjoy some background noise while you work. You can also hit up the coffee stand for tea, coffee or a frappuccino to get those brain waves flowing and motivation up.
While finding the right study spot can be just what you need to combat distractions, I have a few additional tips that might help if you need to revamp your study tactics.
- Create the perfect playlist. Spotify already has some great studying playlists, but making your own might be less of a distraction in the long run. Picking songs you already know pretty well will allow your brain to tune out the words and focus on the tasks at hand.
- Cancel out all noise. Being able to jam out to your favorite music or tune out nearby conversations can help you hone in on what matters. I highly suggest getting some noise-cancelling headphones if you don’t have them already. A pair of cheap ear plugs from Fred Meyer will also do the trick.
- Put your phone away and block online distractions. If you’re like me, 80 percent of my distractions come from scrolling through Instagram or figuring out which character from The Office I am on BuzzFeed (Darryl, in case you were wondering). There are tons of browser extensions out there that let you block social media, BuzzFeed quizzes or Netflix for certain periods of time. Strict Workflow for Google Chrome, for example, will block websites you choose following the Pomodoro technique — 25 minutes of work and 5 minutes of break repeated until your work is done.
You’re in the final stretch, Pilots. Study hard and remember, summer is just around the corner.