November 21, 2005

In pursuit of the perfect study location

Yeah, I know, you have already completed all your reading for the quarter, so you’re going to spend these next two weeks just whiling away your time, nibbling bon-bons and leafing through the Oxford English Dictionary’s more obscure passages. Just ’cause you can. That is fine. I totally support you in that endeavor. Even if I hate you and secretly want to kill you in your sleep.

As for the rest of us, the advent of ninth week means that it’s time for us to drag ourselves over to the Seminary Co-op and finally purchase those books that we’ve supposedly been studying during the past two months. Goddamn, that is a lot of books. And is it enough just to own them? No! Apparently we must read them as well.

However, we cannot read without first finding the Perfect Studying Location. This is why I present to you my tried and true Guide To Perfect Studying Locations. I, personally, have never successfully studied at any of these locations. That is because I never successfully study. But I hear rumor that, if you’re into this “passing your classes” fad, these are definitely the places to see and be seen.

The C-Shop: Not a bad spot. Often, hot grad students study here. And when you get hungry mid-way through a problem set, there will always be an inept Finagle-A-Bagel employee ready and willing to screw up your coffee order. If you stay here long enough, you will, out of sheer boredom, eat so many baked goods that you’ll become morbidly obese and unable to move without bringing on a heart attack. Ultimately, this may be for the best, because it’s only once you’re effectively welded to your seat that you’ll actually buckle down and study.

Harper Library: En garde! I challenge you to a staying awake contest! Here are the rules: Sit in an eerily comfortable armchair in a warm room that is silent except for vague white noise in the background. Attempt to read Thucydides’ “History of the Peloponnesian War.” Last one left awake is the winner! Anyone who manages to stay awake and also to read more than two pages is not only the winner but may well be superhuman.

The Stacks: What are you, crazy? Studying in the Regenstein stacks is like living in solitary confinement. The stacks are where we keep all our hideously deformed students, the ones who may not see the light of day. If the U of C were Mr. Rochester, the stacks would be teeming with Berthas. Know what I mean? You could die in those stacks and it would be weeks before anyone even found your corpse.

In other words, the stacks are only for people who actually want to get work done without disruption. This is probably not

Your bedroom: On the one hand, you live there. On the other hand, your roommate, bed, and television live there, too. I have spent many years trying to work in my bedroom, but to no avail. I don’t know, though, maybe your room has better feng shui than mine.

Ratner: Wow, reading while you work out is totally next-level mens sana in corpore sano. Hats off to you, dude. I mean, the theory is excellent: Take a bunch of activities that suck on their own, and then combine them to form an activity that sucks even more. I guess some people really enjoy studying (because it reminds them of how smart they are) and really enjoy exercising (because it reminds them of how buff they are). For these people, reading while pedaling an exercise bike must be like the wildest endorphine rush. For everyone else, it’s a little taste of hell, right here on earth.

The A-Level: If you’re sick of studying in your comfy pajamas, nothing quite rivals the fashion show that is the A-level’s all-night study space. Around 10 p.m. on a Friday, I enjoy applying some eye make-up, slipping into a skirt, and heading over to the Reg for five or six hours of homework. In the run-up to exams, the A-level is home to more nervous breakdowns than any other spot on campus; it is not unusual to catch students sprawled on the floor or running around half-naked.

I know some people don’t like the A-level because everyone there is always gossiping, laughing hysterically, eating Doritos, throwing footballs, and/or dancing on tables. It is for precisely these reasons that the A-level is my favorite studying location.

Yeah, so, that’s all there is to it. You find your Perfect Studying Location, you place a book in front of you, and you have totally aced all your classes. At least, I think that’s all there is to it. If exams require any more effort than that, it’ll be a nasty surprise for me, too.