The best, most reliable study spots on campus are not quite where you would expect.
This time of year, it is often that you witness bright-eyed, joyful students (a.k.a. first years) wandering into Chifley level 1 at 11am on a Wednesday morning. Coffee in hand and all smiles, they are feeling optimistic for the day of study ahead.
But there is no room for you, sweet child. Today, you sit on the floor, and there you will stay until you muster the courage to shame someone out of the library by posting their unattended items on Stalkerspace. But trust me, you don’t want one of these spaces. Experienced students know that places like these are plagued with other, jaded later year students who will suck your hopes and dreams from you like a Dementor. Get out while you still can.
Why not try a café instead? You’re a chilled-out kind of person – happy to relocate to a more ‘relaxed’ atmosphere. So you dally on over to the most popular café on campus: The Coffee Grounds.
There is a lot to love here. Nice staff, good coffee and great food. But the line is long and you soon get stuck in a 40-minute conversation with an acquaintance you don’t even really like. How’s that essay going for you?
You go to Grounds to be seen – not study. Everyone knows it, appreciates it, and conforms to it.
The tables of Grounds can be likened to The Met steps in Gossip Girl – it is the playground of stupol hacks, sporting legends, and academics trying to politic their way into more research funding. It is also where cynical later year students go to regain their sense of campus belonging – to bask in the good ol’ days of being gleefully greeted by all our overtly affectionate friends. Back to the days when you would set up your study station on a Thursday afternoon, in the full knowledge you were only there to bump into someone that might coerce you to the bar instead.
Those days are over. We go to be seen – but no one wants to see us. We’ve now reverted to using ear-cancelling headphones, not to seem busy and minimise interruptions, but to drown out the sounds of happiness. That is when you really know it is time to hurry T F up and graduate.
After years of enjoying the spoils of The Coffee Grounds while hogging some well-kept secrets about the best study locations on campus, it is time to pass them on. All I ask is that you treat them well and go get yourself a degree with some sweet P’s.
When you need to spread out
While everyone loves the big wooden benches at Grounds, the high turnover of customers makes spreading your books across an entire bench kind of selfish and socially unacceptable. But there are other cafes on campus that offer similar arrangements, without the masses of people.
Biginelli’s at the Music School is great for this. They have large tables, the cheapest (and arguably greatest) coffee on campus, plus friendly staff. But keep an eye on those power points! They are few and far between. You should always have your belongings prepared for the quick lift-n-switch to a more ‘powerful’ table.
Pajenkas in the Union Building is another rare find, and good if you want a cheap feed to keep those brain juices flowing! It is often quiet/empty, and is tucked up behind Degree Café on the top floor of the Union Building. If you enjoy being a real twat, go grab yourself an egg and bacon roll during a lecture break and your class will soon discover why Murray’s doesn’t allow hot food on the bus.
Where to do online exams and quizzes
If you think it’s hard to get a table in Chifley, I dare you to try getting a computer station for that 12pm online exam. And, ANU Secure isn’t always so secure. Save yourself the stress, and set up in one of the discrete computer labs on campus.
Those cuts to the Music School have left the computer labs of the Peter Karmel Building almost always empty! #winsforstudents. And guess what – you can access them after hours (including weekends) by using your student card. Plus, on weekends when the Music School Café is shut, it’s only a small walk to the Cupping Room to get your caffeine hit.
Late Night Study
For all the pros of having a 24 hour library, it is pretty miserable to be stuck in Chifley after hours. And what’s worse – all the coffee shops shut! How they expect students to stay awake until 4am without a steady caffeine supply is beyond me.
While it’s not quite open until 4am, The Front in Lyneham is open until ~10pm. It also provides you with the option of switching to more ‘relaxing’ beverages if you like to use the trusty ‘write drunk, edit sober’ technique.
When you need to have a cry
Mid-sems can be a stressful time, and sometimes you’ve just got to let it all out! But ‘the feels’ are not ones for timing, and have been known to spring on you even during the most vanilla of conversations.
One of the benefits of being on such a bloody big campus is that there are lots of ‘dead’ areas perfect for the subtle cry to Mum on the phone. There are three key qualities I look for in the perfect cry location: isolation, proximity to a bathroom to dry your tears after, and access to a warm, comforting drink.
There is a little dirt path off to the side of Willows Oval that runs along Sullivans Creek. Very few people use it because College kids travelling from Daley Road tend to cut across the oval, and anyone traveling from the Law School will tend to use the upper-path closer to Chancellery. It’s nice and close to The Gods Café – which is dark enough to allow you to slip quietly into the bathroom. It also means you can get a warm drink (would recommend decaffeinated options if you’re feeling anxious), and that the BKSS is nearby to provide free warm beverages if money is a key stressor at the time. Its proximity to Union Court and many libraries also means you can pop right on back to a study area when you’re feeling up to it.
This list is not exhaustive. As I said, our campus is bloody big and there is a lot to explore. But if you ever want to go off the beaten track, think outside your usual ANU bubble and into the bubble of someone else – *cough* Crawford School *cough* School of Art. I’ve always found that the key to finding new, unassuming study spots on campus is to ask people outside your standard social circles. Preferred study locations tend to be linked to what that person is studying – so it leaves you pretty limited for options if you’re hanging out with people in the same degree (or just generally studying law. RIP Peppercorn).
Think of exploring campus for better study like organising your study schedule. ‘Productive procrastination’, so to speak. And if all else fails, Grounds to ANU Bar is hardly the worst life choice you can make.