It’s deadline season, and that means the Billy B becomes ten times as busy. It’s dog eat dog- if you’re not out of the study room in time for the next wide eyed, sleep deprived student, then be prepared for looks that kill. It is every man for himself; not a chair is spare, shelves are bare, book recall battles ensue. You leave the Billy B with a little piece of your soul behind. Not everyone enjoys the silence reminiscent of a police interrogation, or the crowded table, or the strict no eating policy, so, we’ve compiled a few alternative study spaces that give you the chance to make your study sessions moderately enjoyable. Here are some good places to study other than the Billy B:
This is probably the easiest and most accessible alternative option. Durham is full of cafés that offer an array of artisan hot chocolates and flat whites for these cold, harsh, summative-filled, winter days. Here are some of our highlights:
Situated on the edge of Framwellgate Bridge, it has stunning views of the river and is the prime position for people watching as the steady traffic of Durham life flows past. There’s also free WIFI, large tables perfect for group work, and, upstairs, there’s a quieter and spacious area for students to work (as if it couldn’t get any better, you can also inquire into booking this space for meetings/large revision sessions!)
Though small, it’s a quaint and relaxing environment, and is home to (in my opinion) the best hot chocolate in Durham. Perhaps best for some light seminar reading, you can still procure an appropriately candid Instagram of you actively ‘studying’ whilst avoiding the queues of people outside Flat White who, I’ve come to find, do not appreciate your thoughts on Freudian psychology or Russian literary criticism detaining their precious table.
A cultural staple. Everyone’s friend. The land of institutionalised coffee franchises provides reliable wifi, plug sockets, comfy chairs, and the promise of drinking something sweet enough to keep your teeth hurting more than your brain.
Despite not being a café, the university Waterstones has one or two tables. Also, Cafédral (especially popular with English students), has some of the best scones, believe it or not, beyond Buckinghamshire.
2. Departmental/College study rooms
If you get easily distracted by the noise of the bustle of everyday life outside your stressed bubble of concentration, look into the alternative study rooms available in your college. Think reading room or JCR. Think dining room, college bar, or empty conference room. Additionally, some departments have alternative spaces specifically for studying, so make some inquiries and make use of the vast landscape of the science site (since you’re paying for it).
3. Cathedral/Churches/Palace Green
Make the most of Durham’s best aesthetic features: its beautiful historic buildings. The cathedral, the white-capped centre of our daily lives, has a serene and quiet atmosphere which is suitable for book reading. We’re not saying bring your 4 core textbooks, 3 binders, a laptop and set up camp in a church, but if you’re an English Lit student with another Shakespeare play to get through, or a fascinating theorist to battle with, it might be productive to take a pew.
Also, the summer is a great time to throw down a picnic blanket on Palace Green as you can make a start on the mountain of exam prep and still see the outside world, (as long as the cast of Thor aren’t milling around). The opportunities are endless.
From a building with breath taking architecture and historic achievement, to the architecturally award-winning student union. Though it may not give off the same level of serenity as the cathedral or a cute café in town, it’s the only place where you can get a good meal deal, learn to pole dance, and an essay done without actually leaving. And if that doesn’t convince you, you’ll be forced to look at your laptop screen to avoid the aesthetic disappointment that is the concrete mass that surrounds you. Either way, you’ll definitely have a productive session, and that’s all that matters, right?
5. Your room
Much like marmite, your opinion on studying in your own bedroom is a love/ hate relationship. For those who can’t quite resist the urge to begin a Netflix binge, here are a few ways you can make studying in your room more productive:
- Make sure you’re comfortable: work doesn’t have to take place at your desk. Make your bed, gather your blankets and cushions, relax, and sink into chilled-out but effective work mode.
- Create the ambiance: hit up Spotify for some study playlists, classic soundtracks, or some obscure indie tracks (spotify is only £4.99 for students).
- Have a bounty of snacks: TREAT YOURSELF. You’re studying. You’re trying. You’ve opened a JStor tab. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, TREAT YOURSELF. Crack open the poundland treat bags, the crackers and hummus, the 44p chocolate chip biscuits from Tesco, and embark on your journey into oblivion with a full stomach.
Can you think of any more good places to study other than the Billy B? Let us know down below!
*This piece is a collaboration with Rhiannon Morris.