With midterms just around the corner here in Florence (and at Wash U), I find myself seeking brightly lit cafes with free Wi-Fi for the optimal study experience. Although I enjoy these trendy atmospheres, I can’t help but wish I could transport Wash U’s reliable study spots here to Florence. Over the past three years, I have devised an unintentional handbook, so to speak, of the best places for serious productivity. Some spots are common, others underrated, but regardless of their popularity, they have all served me well. So without further ado…
1. Art & Architecture Library
One of my go-to study spots, this library has a perfect balance of natural light and pin-dropping silence. I can truly say I don’t think I’ve heard anyone speak louder than 15 db while in this room. The library boasts long white tables that provide ample workspace. As an architecture student, I come here when I don’t have time to walk across campus to a different location. Because this library is in the basement of the art school and past Brookings quad, it’s definitely under the radar. Most non-art school students don’t even know it exists. But now you do.
2. Top floor of the DUC
I discovered this spot during the fall of my sophomore year. I was attempting to do some last minute studying in Tisch commons, but becoming quickly agitated with the noise level. As the hours left to my exam dwindled, I knew it was time to get serious. I wandered up the stairs and stumbled upon a floor of the DUC with a row of high tables. Pleased with my new find, I set up my work here and clocked in a few hours of valuable study time. I recommend this location for when you don’t need a huge table to spread out, but still want a quiet area.
3. My dorm room
Oddly enough, I have done some of my most successful studying in my dorm room. I cannot get work done here at any given day though. Before I can set myself up to study, I must clean up. Then, after the room is spotless and my desk is cleared away, I can focus. I intentionally design my dorm room as a zen atmosphere, so as long as it’s organized, it’s perfect for studying. Most importantly, I enjoy guaranteed silence, easy access to my fridge, and the luxury of working in my pajamas. I just have to make sure I stay away from my bed to avoid unintentional naps…
4. The Law Library
I religiously work in the law library when I have extensive writing assignments. Something about working alongside graduate law students makes me feel motivated. Maybe I revere them and their prestigious law careers. Maybe their serious expressions while grinding away in their hefty books fills me with a helpful sense of urgency. Whatever it is, the classically designed space, with its soaring ceilings and academic demeanor, gives me purpose. It sounds cliché, but it helps me get work done.
5. The study rooms in Village East
Be bold. Study in a dorm that you don’t live in. I’m serious, because Village East has one of the nicest study rooms on campus. There are two levels. I often worked in the loft space (which you can access from the second floor). Because these rooms are for the most part, unknown, you will not be disturbed. It is almost always empty, so you can spread out across multiple tables, plug in your music, and buckle down. Plus, it’s only a few steps away from the Village if you’re craving some late night stir-fry or need a coffee boost. The fresh air during that quick walk to the Village will also help clear your mind and get you back in study-mode.
I’m looking forward to returning to Wash U in the Spring, revisiting my favorite study spots, and continuing to find new ones as well. Good luck to everyone on midterms! Or, as we say in Italy, “Buona Fortuna!”