For a college student, midterms and finals are unavoidable. Like it or not, studying is an integral part of any college experience. However, this doesn’t mean that the process has to be boring and monotonous! Who said you could only study by yourself at the library?
At UChicago in particular, there are tons of options! You can study in the laundry room of your residential hall (where the WiFi is surprisingly good and the humming of the machines is strangely comforting), or on the bench in front of Botany Pond. It is a known fact that all UChicago students have their favorite study spots. From popular student-run cafés to unknown corners of academic buildings, here are some of mine:
1. The Reg
The Regenstein Library (or, "The Reg," as we call it) has seven different floors, so it’s easy to find a place that suits your studying needs. The lower levels are more relaxed and you can talk freely, making them perfect for group work. The A-Level, for example, is located in the basement and has whiteboards across the walls where students can scribble out math formulas and scientific equations. The upper levels, on the other hand, are quieter and are suitable for tasks that require concentration. If I ever need to grind out a paper, you'll probably find me in one of the cubicles on the second floor or in the stacks on the fourth floor.
2. My House Lounge
In addition to individual rooms, all dorms have shared House lounges (a House is a designated section of a dorm) for students to hang out and work in. In my House, the lounge is typically used for birthday parties and four-hour-long Jenga matches. However, it’s also a great place to study, especially if you want to get some work done late at night or if you have any questions for an upperclassman. As an added bonus, there’s always a study break a couple of nights a week! For the most part, snacks are provided by the Resident Heads—faculty or staff of the University who serve as community leaders for each House. My RHs always make sure to switch it up—my personal favorites are their homemade chili and triple fudge brownies.
3. Ex Libris
Ex Libris is one of the many student-run coffee shops on campus, located inside of the Reg. The black couch in the far-right corner of Ex is my favorite place to settle down and do some quick reading. They have an amazing selection of pastries and sandwiches. (The red velvet donuts have an almost cult-like following and for good reason!) My friends and I always order the same thing—iced vanilla lattes and glazed donuts. If we’re hungry, we either get the Sushi combo (from the Sit Down Sushi Bar on 53rd Street) or the grilled meatball sub.
4. A Museum
UChicago is home to two amazing museums—the Oriental Institute and the Smart Museum. OI doubles as a research center for Near Eastern Studies and has one of the finest collections of ancient artifacts. Once a quarter, during Reading Period (the week before final exams), its galleries are transformed into a late-night study hall. You can literally recreate the movie Night at the Museum and study next to a mummy!
Smart, an art museum, features famous works from Degas, Warhol, Picasso, and Matisse. Similar to the OI, it offers a quarterly study night with free food and coffee.
5. Academic Buildings
If you’re a procrastinator like me and always have last-minute work to do before class starts, the academic building your class is held in is a great option! My personal favorite is the lobby of Saieh Hall (the Econ building), which also houses a Starbucks café. I also love the Social Sciences building during winter; the windows let in the perfect amount of sunlight for reading. My STEM friends are always holed up in Eckhart (home to the Math Department) because there’s a cozy library tucked away in a hidden corner on the second floor.
Pret, a café on the first floor of Reynolds Club, is the perfect place to grab a quick bite for lunch while also getting some work done before an afternoon class. My friends all rave about their dark chocolate chunk cookie and almond croissant! It’s next door to Hutchinson Commons—a food hall that features many different restaurants. On Wednesdays, per University tradition, they sell $1 milkshakes. Studying in Pret gives me easy access (and, let’s be honest, the perfect excuse) to indulge in a sweet treat.
7. A Friend’s Room
Speaking from personal experience, if you choose to study in a friend's room, you might find yourself sprawled out on their floor eating instant ramen. Or you'll have your work laid out in front of you but instead be engaged in a heated debate about something entirely unrelated. Fair warning, you might not actually get that much studying done. But that’s okay! Sometimes, you need to take a break from Plato’s Republic to binge-watch The Bachelor—it’s called self-care!
8. Harper Library
Harper is famous for its Hogwarts-like architecture and beloved for its extremely comfortable sofas. (Seriously, they’re more comfortable than most beds and some students go there just to take a nap!) The North Reading Room—with its multiple cubicles and open-seating plan—is also where you can meet with the writing tutors for essay help. And don’t forget about Harper Café, which sells some of the best fresh-brewed coffee on campus!
If you’re tired of being cooped up inside, you can head outside to the Quad to enjoy the sun, the fresh air, and the company of your friends. The beauty of campus is literally undeniable—since 1997, the Main Quad has been recognized as a Botanic Garden by the American Public Garden Association! With tons of benches and food trucks in close proximity, it is also the perfect spot to relax and pass time in between classes.
10. Downtown Hyde Park
It’s a fifteen-minute walk from the Main Quad, but the cafés and restaurants downtown are so worth it! One of my favorite spots is Philz Coffee, which offers a cozy environment to settle in and study for an upcoming midterm (I love their Iced Mint Mojito Coffee).
The locations listed above are just some of my personal favorites! Other great study spots on campus include the Logan Center, Plein Air Café, any of our dining halls, and even the graduate school libraries. The beauty of being a student at UChicago is that there is no shortage of study spots on campus, which means studying is never boring!