Written by Vasanth Sarathy, Computer Science Ph.D. Candidate
One of my favorite parts about Tufts University is that it’s both a nurturing liberal arts school as well as a full-fledged research university. What that means for me, as a graduate student, is I can get personalized attention from my professors, collaborate with a smallish cohort of supportive classmates and also take advantage of the vast array of research opportunities that one might expect from a large university. What this also means is that graduate student life can get really really busy!
I’m a first year PhD student in Computer Science here at Tufts. I am returning to academia after having worked for a number of years as a lawyer. Long story! So, needless to say, I have a lot of catching up to do. I quickly needed to find cool study spots on campus where I can get my classwork and research done efficiently.
I realized that whenever I needed to find a study spot, I was always doing one of these three things:
- Thinking and “ideating”: when I needed ideas and creative insights to solve a homework problem, or explore a research idea.
- Discussing my ideas with colleagues and classmates: when I needed to talk about by ideas with friends, draw some pictures on a whiteboard and so on.
- Writing up an idea: when I needed to write up a draft of the paper, code or finalize my homework solution.
What I also realized was that these three types of tasks required very different study environments. I discovered that my best thinking and ideating happened in coffee shops, where there is a slight amount of background noise, but not too much to affect my stream of thought. Armed with my favorite micron pen, a yellow legal pad and mug of coffee Tamper (340 Boston Ave.) or Brown and Brew (474 Boston Ave.) or Tower Cafe (in the Tisch Library) can be perfect places to tap into that creative stream of consciousness. Oh, and they also have good coffee!
When I need a whiteboard to get my thoughts out there, I always find a spot in the lounge area in Halligan Hall (161 College Ave.) where there are not only whiteboards and chairs, but also other Computer Science students whom I can interrupt in for a quick clarification. Besides, a number of CS grad students have offices in Halligan and working there is a great opportunity for me to get to know my peers better. My own research group, the Human Robot Interaction Lab is at 200 Boston Ave (up the street from Halligan), and I am here a lot too.
Finally, when I need to buckle down and code or write up my paper or homework, I find myself escaping into the crypts of the Tisch Library stacks in the lower levels. There are some great quiet-study areas scattered there and can serve as an ideal get-away when I know what I need to do, but just need to get in the zone to get it done. Plus, being surrounded by books can be a great intellectual motivator!
This is by no means a comprehensive list of study spots and there are plenty of other spots around campus that Ipek and Rachel have elaborated in detail here and here. Rachel even suggests study spots matched by personality type, which is really cool! One place I plan to check out next is the Granoff Music Center (20 Talbot Avenue).
Will report back soon!