Last semester, as finals approached, I spent a long time trying to find a good place to focus and work. This was difficult, because I needed to balance my penchant for getting distracted by anything around me with my need to be surrounded by people who pressure me to get work done. Trying to study alone in my room often ended with me groaning tiredly, giving up, and consequently laying on the floor, checking Twitter, and thinking that grades don’t really matter because we’re all gonna die someday.

The group study rooms in the Silverman library with the white board walls were nice; I liked being able to go with friends so I’d have people to answer my questions or help fill in gaps in my notes from when I had fallen asleep in class and the words just kind of dribbled into nothing. The problem was that those rooms were always booked except for a few random slots here and there in the ungodly hours of the morning.

I couldn’t work in the lounge of my dorm, because I got too distracted by music playing or people walking by or fire drills which commonly occurred at the worst possible moment because some child can’t make popcorn (or decided to test the smoke detectors by lighting up in their room). I needed a small group area so I didn’t feel entirely isolated but also didn’t have to interact with anyone outside of my study group. That’s where the top floors of the Natural Sciences Complex came in.

View from the seventh floor of NSC

My friend Jon had found these little coves earlier in the semester, and recommended them as a nice place to sit and get some work done. They’re usually locked while the laboratory buffs are working, until about 5:00pm, but at night you can get into just about any of them and camp out as long as you want. Sometimes there are strange remnants of the kids before you, like a jar of peanut butter or an old lightbulb. (Don’t know why those were brought to the rooms, but I’m pretty sure that jar of peanut butter has been there since September.)

The view out the window is pretty nice: being on the seventh floor at night lets you see lights and rooftops around campus, which isn’t the worst. There’s a big chalkboard which may or may not come with chalk. One of my friends spent hours there one night brainstorming what he likes and dislikes, hoping if he wrote it all out it would settle into a kind of road map pointing to what he’s supposed to be doing with his life. I’m not sure how well it worked, but he took pictures of the board and they’re hanging on the wall of his dorm. Doesn’t sound like the worst way to try to get a bit of perspective.

The benches aren’t the most comfortable, but there’s usually no one else in the building, so I like to bring a big pillow and a couple blankets to create a more comfortable environment or a nest for when I need to take a power nap. And the table/lab bench is long so you can really sprawl.

One word of warning is that if it gets too close to morning and you’re still there, (perhaps because, like me, you’re a procrastinator and have a completely stupid sleep schedule), the cleaning staff will show up and start really loudly buffing the floor. Which is not helpful if you’re trying to focus, clearly, but is a good indicator that the sun is going to come up soon and you should probably go home.