As midterms are almost upon us here at Stern College, it is time to locate the ideal study spots that will keep us focused (and sane) throughout the turmoil that is the exam season. Though by this point in the year one can hope to have found the perfect study spot on campus, I often find myself getting antsy once I’ve worked in the same location for several days. If this sounds like something you’ve experienced, perhaps this list will offer some creative solutions to your procrastination and jitters.
- The front lounge of Schottenstein Residence Hall (29th Street) — weeknights only.
If you are someone who can withstand—or even prefers—some background noise and movement, but still needs a sense of calm and infrequent shouting, this may be your new spot. There is decent WiFi access, it’s well-lit enough to keep you awake (or to take the occasional nap), there are windows for sunlight in the daytime and cool air at night, and you can be sure to have first dibs on your favorite table, couch, or cozy armchair. You’re also just steps away from the next coffee run you’ll need to finish the essay that’s due soon.
- The Stanton Hall (245 Lexington Avenue) 7th floor beit midrash.
We’ve all tried it, stopped by, or at least been told of a shiur happening in there during club hour, but if you’re someone who thrives off of white noise, background banter, and an open space lined with books, then this is your Mecca. If you’re there during a weekday, be prepared for the hustle and bustle of break-time traffic and GPATS students. If you can snag a table near an outlet, you’re golden. If not, no worries—other Beit Midrash-goers are very accommodating and willing to share. If you’re a night owl and prefer to work during the quietest hours, the Beit Midrash surprisingly becomes a nearly-silent oasis after about eight o’clock in the evening, especially on Thursdays. Take advantage of the natural lighting in the beit midrash, or just the natural ambiance of studiousness; either way, you’re bound to get your work done. (Note: It is advised that students working in the Beit Midrash be working on Jewish-related subjects, though it is disputed whether this is a Torah U’Madda conflict of interest.)
- The Stanton Hall 1st floor reference library.
Though there are far fewer seats in this space than in the second floor library or the Beit Midrash, this hidden section of the 245 building has every book you’ll need to review for your political science or biology test. All books that your professors have mentioned, explaining that they can be found “on reserve” are just behind the librarian’s’ desk. Not only that, but this space is where you’ll find the copy machines you’ve been searching for since you became a club head and now need to make countless flyers. And when you’ve been sitting for too long and want to explore the stacks, there’s a set of the Oxford Dictionary of American Last Names that will tell you the family origins you didn’t know you were missing.
- The 36th Street back lounge.
Do you stay in for Shabbat? Are you someone who appreciates reading for classes after lunch on Saturdays so she can do her “busy work” after havdalah? If the answer to those questions is yes, and you are content sitting in mildly uncomfortable chairs for extended periods of time, then this is your spot. This spacious lounge echoes the Viennese Waltz scene from the Sound of Music with its decades-old drapes and carpeting, creating a musky atmosphere of your grandmother’s house and the underrated storage room at Versailles. With tall windows and a double-door, sunken-in entrance, this room is welcoming and airy, despite the fading fabrics, and it is close enough to the courtyard door that there’s always a quick escape outside for some fresh air… Or the nearby Bagel Boss.
- The Writing Center (7th floor in 215 Lexington Avenue).
Tutoring space by day, secret study getaway by night, the Writing Center room has the best chairs available for studying—adjustable armrests, seat-backs, and heights, these swerving, wheeled chairs are just the ticket for a productive evening. This space is also guaranteed to be very quiet, if not empty and silent, after five-thirty in the evening, so if you’re someone who can jam out while getting her work done, this may be the room for you. Big windows looking out onto 33rd Street, as well as desktop computers and a printer, this space provides academic motivation that has been there since the Writing Center’s debut years ago. And another plus—you’ll probably run into your favorite English professors while on the 7th floor.
- The second floor library in Stanton Hall.
No matter what kind of study-er you are, this is perhaps the most versatile out of all other study spaces on our campus. If you’re a shared-space kind of student, there are large tables available as you walk in. If you’re far more solitary, there are individual cubicles with extra lighting, all lining the balcony-level ledge as well as the back wall. Don’t have a computer, but would love a widescreen desktop right near the librarian’s good-luck-on-midterms candy? Go for it.
- The back table on the balcony of the second floor library in 245 Lex.
This may sound ridiculously specific, but you’ll appreciate it once you’ve tried it out. If you are a morning person who’s willing to arrive at the library the second it opens, then you’re in luck. This hideaway, though much desired and rarely available, is the motivational speaker of study spaces. Chairs almost as good as those found in the Writing Center, a large table to spread out all your papers and coffee, and the natural light (and noise) of Lexington Avenue will guide you while you trudge through mounds of work.
The 2nd floor beit midrash in Schottenstein Residence Hall.
This shteibel-vibe space with old fireplaces, paintings, and French doors is undoubtably a special place on the Stern campus. With its nightly and weekly regulars, you’ll quickly learn who sits where, what majors these students are pursuing, how to adjust the unwieldy temperature in this room, and how quaint a tiny piece of Manhattan can be. Actual house plants sit beside the naturally-lit walls while up-for-grabs copies of Tanya are strewn across bookshelves and tables. Another perk: classy and comfortable chairs. This space may remind you of another 36th back lounge-type parlor from the 1950s, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t warm, studious, and especially convenient (if you live in 29th, that is).