As the first week of fall term whizzes past, many of us are beginning to feel the schoolwork kick into high gear. While Rotation, the process through which freshmen choose their houses, wraps up, we can begin to discuss some relaxing study spots on campus. Studying is not everyone’s favorite activity but it can be synonymous with learning — and having fun! Here are a few of my favorite places. I’ve also rated each area out of three stars on various factors to give a better picture of each space.
Venture into the Unknown: Outside of the Chen Neuroscience Building
For those who haven’t been on campus since Before Pandemic times, the awning of the newly built Chen Neuroscience building is perfect for starting your problem set on a Thursday afternoon. The outdoor seating area contains a multitude of tables for outdoor study groups or focused individual study. The shade provided by the building makes it a perfect choice for a sunny day when you want to be outside but not “in the sun”. While this location is quite far from the North and South houses, it is in close proximity to folks who live in Avery or Bechtel. Anyways, walking for a few minutes across campus can stimulate blood flow to the brain and actually help you concentrate better!
Peace & Quiet: ⭐⭐ - It gets noisy around lunchtime.
Amenities: ⭐ - While this is a nice spot, there are no whiteboards and minimal charging ports, unless you snag the two tables that are next to the ports.
Accessibility: Varies - Close to Avery/Bechtel, far from North/South Houses
Scenery: ⭐⭐⭐ - The ambiance is *chef’s kiss*. It’s nice and cool while being outdoors, so you don’t have cabin fever from being inside all the time.
The Hidden Emerald: Nooks inside the Linde Building
Though “emerald” is a stretch to describe the lime-green walls inside of the Linde building on campus, the study nooks within are certainly hidden gems. Another of the newer buildings on campus, it was designed for mathematicians, so many areas have chalkboards with fancy Hagoromo Fulltouch Chalk. There is also cushioned seating, making it a great option for small study groups working together on sets. As this is an indoor shared space, be considerate of the faculty and other students occupying it – always wear your mask and keep your volume at a reasonable level as to not disturb others.
Peace & Quiet: ⭐⭐ - It is quiet here at night but there may be more activity in the daytime.
Amenities: ⭐⭐ - You may have to hunt around for charging ports, but there are so many whiteboards and chalkboards!
Accessibility: ⭐⭐ - A bit closer to the North/South Houses but you need to climb stairs/go up an incline.
Scenery: ⭐⭐ - It is pretty cozy here; you just need to be mindful to not disturb others.
Tried and True: Sherman Fairchild Library (SFL)
One of the most popular study spots on campus is, of course, Sherman Fairchild Library, referred to as SFL. If you want to study somewhere your friends can’t find you, there are many individual desks inside where you can work in isolation. Group reservations are offered if you want to collaborate with other people in true Caltech fashion. These include indoor rooms that have whiteboards as well as outdoor study spaces. More information on reservations can be found here. When you’re on campus, the Caltech Library in general is a wonderful resource for many different services; their diverse offering of study spaces is just the start of it.
Peace & Quiet: ⭐⭐⭐- The library is pretty quiet, even when you’re working at a desk in a shared space.
Amenities: ⭐⭐⭐ - A lot of resources at the library!
Accessibility: ⭐⭐⭐ - A bit closer to the North/South houses than Avery/Bechtel but it is pretty accessible from anywhere on campus.
Scenery: ⭐ - The library is built for functionality and it feels a bit closed off when you’re inside, which may be off-putting to some.
These are a few of my favorite study spots on campus. It’s important to be cognizant of how our physical surroundings affect our mental states. A relaxed and comfortable study location, whether it be one I mentioned above, the lounge in your house, or even your own room, is imperative to how productive you can be. Everyone has different needs and as a result, preferences for their study environment. I recommend taking some time to reflect on what helps you focus the best and to keep these factors in mind when searching for a study spot. It never hurts to explore a new place on campus to see what it’s like and if it works for you. Happy studying!
It’s Thursday night and you’re trying to finish one of the two sets you have due tomorrow. You’ve been grinding at the set for a few hours and things have actually been going pretty well, but then you get stuck.