People Watching and Study Buddies
I’m a person who is very set in my habits. I get out of bed at the same time every single morning and try to go to bed at the same time every night. I go to the library pretty much every night at pretty much the same time. I have sat at the same desk in the library since the beginning of my first year. That means this relationship has lasted a full five semesters, going on a sixth — a period of time substantially longer than any relationship I’ve ever had with a boy.
When it comes to doing homework, I will never get anything done unless I follow this same routine. However, on the rare occasion that I get to the library at 8:30 p.m. instead of 8 p.m., somebody may have already taken my seat. Tonight is one of those nights. That’s why I’m writing this article instead of running the Markov Chain simulation I’m supposed to be doing (don’t worry, I don’t really know what that means either).
I guess I can’t really blame anybody for taking my seat — it has a great view! I can see most of the second floor, and since it’s right in front of the huge windows above the entrance, I can watch everyone walking in. I would guess that throughout my time here I have witnessed the majority of Grinnell’s students enter the library. I like to watch them. And note the time of their entrance and exit … and their clothing … current level of apparent stress. And other interesting things like that.
At nighttime, it’s a little harder to see through the windows, but that’s OK, because thanks to their glorious reflections, I can see everything behind me without allowing my creepiness to be obvious. I have secretly witnessed a countless number of quick kisses sneaked in between the stacks. Peoplewatching is a crucial aspect of my study routine, and while it might seem counterproductive, I would never finish my work if I didn’t have interesting things to watch while pondering the next step of that algorithm I’m trying to figure out. But I assure you, not every student’s study habits involve stalker-like tendencies. It seems that every Grinnellian has his or her own study quirk to help manage the demanding workload.
Lots of people are very peculiar about the noise levels around them. Music may be necessary to focus, or it might be a source of great distraction. Others need a constant background drone — I’ve heard that Bob’s Underground is the only location on campus where the white noise is absolutely perfect. Some people have weird eating habits. A large percentage of the school population sucks down their caffeinated drink of choice before every study session, while others claim to stay away from coffee at all costs. Some need a very specific snack before they begin studying and become irritated when The Spencer Grill is out of stock, much in the same way I’m annoyed when I lose my favorite study seat.
I have some friends whose routine is not having a routine. If they’re not being productive enough, it must be due to their current locale, and so it’s time to find a new spot. A long paper may result in five or more of these location switches. There are both the social studiers, who complete every assignment with their best study buddy from class, and those who can’t think with someone else in their ear. They try to tolerate these sessions until they can steal away with a clear mind.
And so it seems that perhaps the study habits of Grinnellians are about as diverse as the people I see walk into the library every day. While coming to Grinnell may seem daunting as a new student, I guarantee you will soon find your niche, whether it be for socializing, studying, or in my case, innocent stalking.
Cassie Sims '08 is a Computer Science major from Albuquerque, New Mexico.