STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 11/13/2015

Scots Study Spots

Truett Smith ’15 takes us on a tour of some of Gordon’s best (and worst) study spots—in snippets from a 2014–2015 Tartan series that lifted spirits even during last winter’s epic snows, when we needed it most. 

The Leg Extension Machine in the Bennett Fitness Center

Pros: Sculpted thighs, multi-tasking 

Cons: Gym noise, weird glances, soreness the following day

This Chair offers a surprisingly comfortable cushioned seat and back, which makes it a prime reading spot, especially since it lacks a nearby outlet for extended computer studying. Also functioning as a leg extension workout machine, this spot encourages studiers not only to work out their brains while studying, but also to tone up those quadriceps. No longer is one forced to choose between strengthening the mind or the thighs. As long as you don’t mind sweaty bodies, a hint of B.O., the burning sensation of non-stop leg extension reps, classic rock music, the continuous hum of treadmills, the clinking of weights, and the perpetual thumping that is felt whenever a runner takes a stride, then you might have what it takes to study in this spot. Perhaps the only true place where “soul meets body,” The Leg Extension Machine in the Bennett Fitness Center is the perfect way to say, “Yeah, I may be a little nerdy, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about my thighs.”

The Pew Across from the Drinking Fountain in the Hallway of the Chapel Basement 

Pros: Unadulterated privacy

Cons: Fluorescent light, wooden seat, existential crises

No place of worship is complete without its very own catacomb, and our A. J. Gordon Memorial Chapel is no exception. The basement of the Chapel has everything one could possibly want in a modern-day catacomb: pristine lavatories, a drinking fountain, carpet, bright lights, and no dead bodies. However, I’d be lying to you if I told you that this Pew has the makings of a great study spot. If the fluorescent lights don’t make you feel as if you’re locked in solitary confinement or the morgue, then the utter vacancy and lack of human interaction certainly will. Yes, the hallway provides outlets and a surprisingly strong Wi-Fi signal, but the hard, cushion-less planks of The Pew offer no mercy to your body. Granted, if my computer overheats in my lap and catches my trousers on fire, I can be grateful for the fire extinguisher only a step away. However, to be honest, I’ve lost all sense of time since coming down here, and with the lack of defining features, I can’t discern whether I’m still in the chapel or if I ever even was. 

The Desk at the End of Aisle GE to GV 446 in The Stacks: Level 2

Pros: Quiet, private, inspiring

Cons: Wooden chair, no windows 

Walk down the hallway towards CTS, turn left into The Stacks. Tiptoe down the industrial grade steel staircase to Level 2. Take another left at the end of the stairs; find the back corner, and seat yourself not in the corner desk but in the one directly in front of it. This isn’t your casual studying-while-simultaneously-talking-to-my-table-full-of-friends kind of spot. This is the let’s-crank-out-that-15-pager-that-was-due-yesterday type of throne. Its cubicle-like enclosure ensures privacy. Other noteworthy features include a wall outlet right next to The Desk, sufficient legroom, and encouraging
(yet theologically debatable) desk graffiti—“god [sic] gives what you can handle!” As you sit in The Desk, you may notice that the top two shelves at the end of aisle F 596 to GD contain daring accounts of various Arctic explorers. If these men braved sub-zero winds, frostbitten extremities and miles of glaring ice and biting water, then surely you can pass that bio exam or finish that TGC reflection. Best suited for study marathons, this Desk will perfectly facilitate your “zone.” Just don’t forget to get some fresh air or sustenance from the Bistro every once in a while.

The Right Side of the Booth Adjacent to the Coffee Shop in Chester’s

Pros: Window, close to coffee

Cons: Wooden benches, social traffic, dim lighting

This watering hole appeals to Millennials like a river appeals to a herd of wildebeest in the Serengeti. Many a student can be found in Chester’s eating, studying, socializing, or standing in the purgatory that is the Chester’s coffee shop line. The time of day is crucial for determining whether or not this Booth is the study spot for you. The popularity of Chester’s practically guarantees that the hours between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. will be a social butterfly convention, making intensely focused study sessions virtually impossible. Unless studying in the early morning or the wee hours of the night, you can count on the decibel levels and social interferences to be more than are ideal, so headphones are highly encouraged (especially depending on the varying musical tastes of the baristae). Focusing and quickly reading two supposedly easy pages from Our Father Abraham is a task that even the most determined sophomores find difficult in this Booth; we advise that assignments requiring longer than a half hour be done elsewhere. 

The Couch Between Two Ferns in the Third Floor Lobby of KOSC 

Pros: Natural scenery, footrest, room for two

Cons: Deadly mammals, drinking fountain hum

Don’t let exaggerated stereotypes deter you; even a place such as this has study spots for the English major, the social work student, and the aspiring pastor. Work up the courage to scale two flights of stairs and to endure the piercing gazes of territorial science majors, and a surprisingly comfortable study spot awaits you. With its multi-colored, geometrically patterned upholstery, this Couch is hard to miss. It sports a cushioned footrest, a nearby outlet, and easy bathroom accessibility. The third floor lobby is filled with preserved and encased wild birds and beasts: pheasants, weasels, a black bear, and a mountain lion named Chet, who greets you at the top of the stairs. The foliage on either side of The Couch adds to the authenticity of the experience. Just try not to get too distracted by the view, the between-class traffic, the random lab noises, or by reenacting scenes from Night at the Museum. And don’t be discouraged or offended when a kinesiology major asks you what you’re doing in KOSC after finding out you aren’t a science major (true story). Hang in there and study hard, you Herald of the Humanities.

The Snow Pile Burying the Stop Sign at the Bottom of the Hill

Pros: Empathy with snow(wo)men, opportunity to dare your friends

Cons: Hypothermia

While the New England Ice Age of 2015 confined the rest of the student body to study in the warm, cozy, life-sustaining indoors, the frigid, uncomfortable, life-threatening outdoors became the potential study spot of all those crazy enough to endure its thrashings. The height of The Pile offers an ideal vantage point from which to spot friends passing by, but good luck convincing them to study with you, which makes The Pile a lonesome study spot. Paired with this seclusion, the biting winds make one feel less like a Greek god or goddess atop Mount Olympus surveying the plebeians below but more like the lonely Grinch enviously spying on the warm and joyful Whos of Whoville. More symbolically this spot is the perfect metaphor for New England ideology—cold intellectual superiority looking down on the rest of the world, which may either provide a level of motivation while studying or might freeze your soul instead.


Truett Smith’s new study spot is the Basque region of northern Spain, where he is studying languages and involved in missions work.