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Study spaces during crunch time

When this place is full, you know you're screwed. Photo by Chris Parent

Surprise! It’s the most wonderful time of the year: exam period is upon us once again. Every December and every April it’s like the nightmare of all the assignments, papers and exams is happening for the first time, and every semester we feel traumatized anew by the time it’s all over.

These days most of us are substituting Friday nights fuelled by gin and tonics and the will to make it to pizza corner at the end of the night with Friday nights fuelled by energy drinks and the will to make it to X number of words.

But our study space of choice in this time of need speaks as much about us as what we study, and choosing the Killam over a café can be a seriously divisive issue between study buddies.

When asked about their study habits, I got every answer in the book—one Killam night owl, Sammy Newman, says studying at the Killam every night “is like going to work every day. It’s a routine.” Others find being surrounded by other students distracting, preferring to get their schoolwork done anywhere but Dal’s campus.

Personally, I’m partial to that big ol’ windowless cube where nobody knows your name. As a fourth-year student with papers galore to write, I spend a lot of time there. The Killam has got it all—proximity to caffeine, plenty of outlets for my ancient battery-dead laptop, good people-watching areas, wireless that works more often than not, and the most accommodating hours on campus. What more could a late-night kind of gal like myself ask for?

That being said, my relationship with the Killam is equal parts love and hate; sometimes I don’t want to smell like Subway when I study, you know? And we obviously know that from parking to classrooms, space is a serious issue on Dal campus, and study spots are no exception.

Especially during the exam period, it’s a fight to the death for a good table (none of that middle table business). If you don’t claim one early in the day (especially on the weekends), you’re relegated to the stacks where the Internet is spotty and the walls are painted orange.

Since we’re on the topic, if all my library wishes could come true, having access to coffee later than 10 p.m. would be a great bonus—not to mention the much debated issue of having a 24-hour study space. Once upon a time, the Computer Science building offered 24-hour access to students, but these days the Killam’s 3 a.m. closing time is the closest Dal comes to a round-the-clock study spot.

While the Killam may be the largest, it is by no means the most popular place to hit the books on campus. One of my frequent study pals recommends switching up the scenery to keep your eyes fresh and your soul in tact as you pound out the pages.

If you’re tired of staring at your bedroom wall and want to rid yourself of the library doldrums, look no further. Want to listen to some sweet crooning while you study? Try the special collections room on the fifth floor of the Killam—you can check out records, strap on a set of headphones and position yourself at a listening station while you work. There’s even natural sunlight!

Or if you’re tired of the typical undergrad tomfoolery, the Law Library is only a few blocks away. If all else fails, the King’s library is full of natural light, rich mahogany and cozy reading chairs.

Though, let’s be honest—these days the best place to study seems to be outside in the sun, wherever you can find it. The best advice I can give? No matter where you choose to study, just make sure you don’t forget the snacks.

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Michaela Cavanagh

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