If you’ve ever tried to open a bag of chips in a Robarts reading room only to look up after the first crackling bite and see a dozen pairs of eyes glaring at you — you’ve learned that studying in the library isn’t for you.
Still, many students, myself included, find it equally difficult to study at home. Familiar comforts can equal distractions when your eyes wander across the room and catch something to fix, clean, or move; maybe water your plants and take an excursion — or 12 — to the fridge. The proximity to your bed is not helpful either when trying to resist the urge to take multiple Netflix and nap breaks.
Then, there’s the power of the space itself; the ability of lights, sounds, and colours to inspire our thoughts, shift our moods, help us relax, or cause additional stress. As much as it’s important to stay centred regardless of our surroundings, the environment that we find ourselves in can either be helpful or obstructive in this feat.
For those who are searching for a middle ground between studying at home or abiding by the library’s strict pact of silence, I’ve explored and tested some alternative study spaces.
OISE Nexus Lounge — 252 Bloor Street West, 12th Floor
The Nexus Lounge not only boasts one of the most impressive views on campus, but also offers a versatile study area with desk space, lounge space, and a kitchenette.
This makes it effortless to rotate your studying, breaking, and snacking all in one spot, not to mention snapping some stunning scenery. Natural light fills the room during daytime, but the best part comes for those studying overtime — a radiant sunset over the city.
Terrence Donnelly Centre for Cellular & Biomolecular Research, Indoor Garden — 160 College Street, First Floor
If you’re looking for a dynamic and energizing study space, step inside the Donnelly Centre’s indoor garden. Divided by tall tropical plants, this spot feels secluded from the rest of the building. In the midst of palms and bamboo, an opening leads to a wood-based patio with benches. The feeling of being inside a hidden oasis creates a soothing effect. This is a great place to catch up on readings in an incredibly unique environment.
Athletic Centre Pool Gallery — 55 Harbord Street, First Floor
At first glance, this may seem an unlikely study spot. But the Athletic Centre’s pool gallery has a surprisingly de-stressing atmosphere — a result of its vast space and the moderate sounds of swimmers and pool water swaying below.
The bleachers overlooking the pool are often empty in the morning hours and are gradually settled by students camped out with books, bags, and coffee from Café AC just outside. The spot is also great for studying with a friend as you won’t run the risk of getting the dreaded ‘shhh’ when quizzing each other out loud.
Myhal Centre for Engineering Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Atrium — 55 St. George Street, Fifth Floor
The recently opened Myhal Centre has all the sophisticated design and gadgets you’d expect from an engineering building.
This extends to the spacious fifth-floor study hall that makes maximal use of natural shine with its edgy skylights and high ceilings, reducing the use of artificial light sources. Even if you’re not an engineering student, Myhal is friendly, spacious, and has plenty of natural light.
Jackman Law Building —78 Queen’s Park, First Floor
This study spot emanates a sleek modern elegance throughout. The atmosphere is heightened in the main study hall with its abstract edges and endless windows. From the worktables, students get a cozy view of wintry parks outside.
The sights of nature combined with the openness of the space create a peaceful atmosphere that soothes stress. And don’t worry about knowing what habeas corpus means, as students outside the law field have been taking advantage of the spot since the building opened in 2016.