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The Scarlet & Black

Sprucin’ up your Grinnell Grind: Stop going to Burling

You’ve finished a satisfying dinner with friends and continue the conversation out of the dining hall, standing in the open space of the JRC. “Well, it’s Burling time I guess,” someone says. With that, the jubilant spell of laughter, conversation and procrastination harshly and abruptly ends. As if they are giving into a magnetic force, your friends heft their backpacks out of the pile and trek towards thesis statements and problem sets.

Once you enter Burling you see that everyone else had the same idea. The first floor hums with the sound of shifting bodies and barely contained whispers. Most of the seats are taken, and you end up in an uncomfortable chair trying to ignore the table of first years gossiping next to you. If only I had given more thought to what space would encourage my most productive work, you think, imagining back to the moment you made the choice of where to study. Or did you really make a choice? You decide you are going to change up your routine from simply following your friends and instead adventure to find new and perhaps better study spaces.

Perhaps I am alone on this quest for less “mainstream” study spots, but having talked to my friends, I believe I am not. I have discussed with them how we miss the tranquility and privacy of a home to get work done. This is why I have sought out alternate study public study spaces for those of us who do not feel productive in our dorm rooms, yet do still want that feeling of a calmer, more private and comfortable studying experience.

One alternative is to find an empty classroom. You are never guaranteed that your favorite classroom will be open. Thus, this approach is best for people who don’t mind wandering the hallways a bit before getting down to work. If this sounds like you, check out the second floor of the ARH for an empty language classroom. The German classroom, for example, boasts a large table perfect for solitary or group study.

Empty classrooms in Noyce are a little harder, as many of them are taken by mentor sessions and overall, they are more frequented by students. What I have found is that there is usually a classroom available in the basement. I know what you are thinking, that you will get lost and encounter Nurse Ratchet down there. But the depressive and maze-like nature of Noyce aside, the physics classrooms in the basement are great. They are usually empty, have a number of computers and plenty of desk space. The cherry on top of this sundae are the large projectors connected to the computers in these basement classrooms on which you can blast homework pump-up songs.

Now the other “alternative” study spot, if you will, that I have found is the multicultural suites on the second floor of the JRC. At first, the signs outside the suites that warn you not to sleep in them may not make sense, but the temptation to doze off becomes apparent as soon as you step into a suite and see all the beanbags, comfy chairs, and large couches with pillows. The multicultural suites are truly the most comfortable space I have found on campus, but do not fear—there are also desks and less snooze-provoking chairs.

You may already be aware of these study spaces, or have found a favorite spot that works for you, such as the CCL or a dorm lounge. But I hope this column leads you to reflect on where you study, and if it is the most conducive environment for focusing. Some people can focus perfectly well, or even better, with the background noise of the bustling environment on the first two floors of Burling. Yet if you get the best work done in a private space in which you are free to put your legs on the desk, blast music or take a dancing study break, then know that you have options! The negative aspects of certain Grinnell experiences are unavoidable. You will always have to study, and lots of the time it won’t be fun. So why not seek out the very best environment for which to perform this task, a space that best encourages productivity for you?

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    CrosbyApr 8, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    I noticed that your choices are all on campus. For a real change of pace for your studying you might look for an off-campus location. Saints Rest and Yumi’s will let you study for hours (although they would probably want you to buy something; but, then again, you might be wanting a cup of coffee, etc.). Or you can go to Drake Community Library. It stays open until 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Granted, that is not 1 a.m., but it could be a nice change of space for studying from your campus locations.