What is it about coffee shops and studying? I have spent many afternoons finding the perfect coffee shop to provide me with the ideal environment to study and plug away at my thesis. Finally, I have found the ideal place in Rosemere, a small town north of Montreal where I call home. Here is what it has:
1) The best dark coffee in town. It only takes a few seconds before your brain cells wake up after drinking this stuff.
2) A quiet corner away from the buzz of the restaurant, but still close enough to provide ample entertainment for procrastination periods.
3) Employees who make you feel that there is no rush to leave
4) Fast and Free Wi-Fi!
5) A place to plug in your laptop (this is surprisingly hard to find)
6) Large tables
7) Other productive academics and business folk
These criteria might be met in other coffee joints, but this place is special. Libraries and academic offices can often feel overwhelming at this time of year. They attract the most stressed individuals who have the coping strategies of an overly anxious canine.
Coffee shops attract people who want to be creative, and stress is nowhere to be found. The people around me at this time have goals and plans about how to achieve them. They have deadlines, and they are on track to complete each one. There is no one around me with highlighters, underlining sentences in text books. There is no one around me perspiring or huffing. People are breathing easy, and working extremely productively.
The woman across me is closing off a real estate transaction while eating raspberry cheesecake. The man behind me is re-designing his fitness studio with an architect. They are doing so drinking the Sultan dark coffee and eating a goat cheese salad. A few tables down, there is another grad student who I have met several times. He is studying for his oral comprehensive exams, and judging by the amount of time he is spending talking to the older couple next to him, he is doing just fine and has no worries.
I also like to work around “real people”. People of all ages come to this coffee shop. There are two babies at the back of the restaurant with their proud new parents, and my fellow grad-student friend is talking to an admiring couple in their 80s. There are business folk, gals having lunch, students, and people who are simply here for dessert and coffee.
This group of people make me realize where I stand in the grand scheme of things. Although McGill is a special place, with extremely talented people, a few too many days in a row on campus can make me a little batty. Competition and excellence are great things, but I feel that I can best achieve these standards with a little dose of reality from here and then. In my studies, this afternoon once a week is my dose of reality.
If studying is getting to you, try getting out for an afternoon at a great coffee shop. Maybe I will see you here.
Photo by Dallas Curow