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Saturday, May 25, 2024
The Observer

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The best spots to "work" outside

A look into outdoor study spots on-campus

Spring is officially upon us. Slowly but surely, telltale signs have been popping up around campus: the tulips are blooming, the men of Dillon are playing spikeball on South Quad and all is well in the world. 

I relish in the glory of spring, much like everyone else, embracing the much-needed vitamin D and the extra enthusiasm infused into everyone’s mood. Spring just makes life feel a little more effortless. Realizing that it’s still light outside after leaving the dining hall for dinner, you release the breath you’ve been holding. Smile and wave to more people. Say ‘yes’ to that lake walk.

Yet, while I can expound the ways in which warm weather is healing for the soul, it can also unfortunately spell a recipe for disaster. Specifically, an academic disaster.

“I’m gonna go work outside” is the most dangerous phrase students fall prey to this time of year. No one is truly productive outside. How are you supposed to focus when the birds are literally singing? The best I usually do is draft an email or attempt to do a reading, when all I’m really doing is squinting at my screen and trying to turn the brightness up (it’s already all the way up). 

But if you’re like me and refuse to give up, I will help you navigate this endeavor. We’re in this together. 

Here are the best spots on campus to work outside, ranked on scales of practicality, sociability and coolness. 

Proceed with caution, reader — the author takes no responsibility for essays left unwritten or homework gone undone.

A blanket on the quad

Practicality: low. Sociability: high. Coolness: high.

The most enticing location of them all also proves the most risk. Dangers include: ill-aimed soccer balls, “Baianá” blasting from a JBL speaker and waves to friends turning into 30-minute catch-up sessions. The lack of a table or chair makes this not only risky, but entirely impractical. This option is not for the faint of heart. 

Yet, the best things in life are never easy. What is more picturesque or movie-like than laying out on the quad with a textbook? Choose this option if you want to channel your inner Elle Woods. High risk, high reward is the name of the game here.

The tables outside of Lafun

Practicality: high. Sociability: medium. Coolness: medium.

This is a much more practical option. Situated next to the Dome and shaded by trees, one can enjoy the privileges of a table while observing a steady stream of passersby. With a limited number of chairs, this is one of the first spots to fill up on a warm day — making for a great middle-of-the-road option, if you’re lucky. Plus, the close proximity to LaFun for a Flex-point lunch doesn’t hurt either.

A hammock

Practicality: low. Sociability: low. Coolness: extremely high.

Looking to completely seclude yourself? Find inner peace? This might be the right choice for you. As the best way to go off-the-grid and channel your outdoorsy side, hammocking allows granola fiends and sun enthusiasts alike to enjoy the outdoors, uninterrupted. 

Unfortunately, downsides include: a lack of reliable Wi-Fi, no hard surface to write on and running the risk of realizing you forgot something in your dorm room. If you can get over that, then grab your hammock (or borrow a friend’s) and get out there.

The tables outside of Stayer Center

Practicality: high. Sociability: low. Coolness: low.

In an effort to actually be helpful, Stayer Center is my most practical suggestion for working outside. With spots on both sides of the building, this option provides plenty of tables and stable Wi-Fi. Even more, its somewhat remote location means little foot traffic — so you can usually count on open spots and little distraction. If you can blend in with the MBA students milling around, consider this a viable option if you’re looking to both lock-in and tan.

All jokes aside, make sure to get outside these last few weeks of school. If you white-knuckled your way through January and February, think of April as your redemption tour. I read somewhere that springtime is about the “discovery of what to return to.” Find moments to slow down — the assignments will get done and exams will be taken, regardless of whether you linger outside for an extra five minutes. 

And if you have any spots to recommend, let me know. We can waste our time in the sun together.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.