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Friday, June 24, 2022

The not-so-definitive ranking of Oxford study spots

Hannah Goode gives her guide to the best (and worse) places to study in Oxford.

Libraries:

I won’t lie, I’m not really one for libraries, I find them too quiet (I am well aware they are supposed to be quiet) and too formal; I usually spend the majority of my time on my phone and the rest of the time wondering if the person sat behind me is judging me for being on my phone. Nevertheless, in these Covid times going to the library has provided some much needed structure and variety to my day.

Duke Humphrey’s – 9/10

Pros:

  • It is beautiful – If it’s good enough for Harry Potter, it’s good enough for me. Prepare to spend the first 15 minutes just looking around you.
  • The current time slot is 10 hours. I suppose for some people this is a con, but I like that you can get settled at the beginning and then dip in and out as it suits you.

Cons:

  • If you are not sat on the Bodleian booking system at 07.57am a week in advance, good luck getting a seat!
  • It’s a faff; don’t forget to bring a pound for the locker! (You’re not allowed to bring in your own bag)
  • No water allowed in the library = thirsty gal ☹

Law Lib – 6/10

Pros:

  • It doesn’t get booked up in the first 15 minutes like other libraries.
  • Very open and airy, doesn’t feel claustrophobic or stuffy. The desks are arranged into long rows all facing in one direction so if you don’t like having eyes on you, it’s probably not going to be your fave.

Cons:

  • In the summer it can only be described as a gigantic greenhouse. Dress light!

SSL – 7/10

Pros:

  • It has private study rooms if you really need to get in the zone.
  • Major school library vibes; I can’t explain it but it’s not an intimidating space to work in.
  • The chairs are incredibly comfy.

Cons:

  • Neither the SSL or Law library are very central, but on a sunny day the walk can be lovely and contribute to your daily step count (what more could you want?)

The Rad Cam – 7/10

Pros:

  • Amazing location, the walk up the ‘members only’ path past all the tourists will give you an ego boost for days.
  • Beautiful interior but not distracting – did you even go to the Upper Rad Cam if you haven’t posted a picture of the ceiling on your story?

Cons:

  • The windows are often open in the Upper Rad Cam and it gets draughty, so bring a jumper.
  • If you’re a Rad Cam virgin, don’t book the Gladstone link and expect to be in the main building. You will be severely disappointed.

Your College library – 8/10

Pros:

  • There will always be people you know in the library so very wholesome vibes and not intimidating.
  • If you live on-site then you can pop back to your room if you’ve forgotten something or for your lunch break.

Cons:

  • Probably doesn’t have the book you need…
  • Doesn’t add much spice to your life if you already spend lots of time in college.

Not Libraries:

Like I said, I don’t like libraries, and maybe you don’t either! Here are some alternatives to the library that don’t require booking a slot.

Your room – 7/10

Pros:

  • You can work in your pjs (you could also do this in the Old Bod, but it isn’t strictly socially acceptable).
  • You’re probably less than 5 metres away from your bed, and a power-nap is never a bad thing.

Cons:

  • High probability you will become a hermit.
  • There is zero peer pressure to get off your phone and work – high levels of self-motivation necessary.

ChCh meadows – 6/10

Pros:

  • Sitting on a picnic blanket reading Ovid RADIATES main character energy.
  • You don’t need to wear a mask!

Cons:

  • Obviously no plugs, you are limited by the battery life of your laptop.
  • Loads and loads of bugs. Enough said.

A coffee shop – 7/10

Pros:

  • Close proximity to baked goods and coffee at all times (fiscally, this is definitely a con)
  • If you work better with background noise, a coffee shop is ideal. A happy middle-ground between your room and the library.

Cons:

  • Not all coffee shops were created equal – you might have to do some trial and error. The Caffè Nero on high street for example has awful WiFi, and the music in Taylor’s is overwhelmingly chirpy.

Image credits: DAVID ILIFF / CC BY-SA 3.0

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