As grad students we are always looking for the perfect writing, reading, studying spot. The perfect spaces, places, and contexts in which to have our “aha” moments and get inspired. I’m one who likes change. I need transition. Sometimes I like a lot of white noise in the background. Sometimes I want absolute silence. Sometimes I need constant refills of coffee and snacks. Montreal — as well as McGill – provides all of these locations, a brief walk (underground) or metro stop away from each other, for every student’s taste. Whether you need a 24 hour café or a lounge with couches, plugs, and wifi during the day, Montreal has it. Just for you.
Because there are four universities in town, and a few Cégeps — you can choose where you want to study. You can go to UQAM’s library and a hop, skip, and jump away is the Grand Bibliothèque where you can find pretty much any book you want in French. In that same quarter, you’ll find a myriad cafés on St-Denis, St-Laurent, and finally…the McGill Ghetto and Parc. It’s a beautiful area any time of year. If you feel like going to U de M, you will find just as many little cafés and study spots around that area. Just a couple of stops in on the blue line.
My problem, however, has been loud and distinct noise. For instance, if I’m at, say, a café downtown — a nice little place with fair trade coffee and homemade desserts — and they start to play some loud and obnoxious indie music, I’m outta there. There is no way to concentrate with that type of sound. Also, if I’m in the library and someone is speaking really loudly and everything they say can clearly be differentiated from the background noise — I won’t be able to concentrate. I’ll be too focused on their words that I don’t want to hear.
For those times, it’s a good idea to have music handy on your iPad or MP4 player. Classical music stresses me out, and pop music makes me lose my concentration. But, what I’ve found is that bossa nova Brazilian music really helps me. Jazz can be too emotional or evocative, but bossa nova really just serves as a perfect background loungey-type music. I’m not talking about remixed bossa nova, I’m talking about the real, original stuff.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:
Now, the quest for the perfect coffee….