Students take advantage of secluded study spots

Adrienne Burch

With a hammock strung up between two trees, you are immersed in nature for the afternoon, from the pond underneath to the birds flying overhead. This may seem like an ideal place to get some rest, but for senior Lee Decker, it’s the perfect place to hit the books.

In preparation for finals week, most UA students flock to the four libraries across campus to study. This leads to overcrowding and many frustrated students who cannot find a comfortable, quiet place to cram. However, others have discovered different places to study across campus and Tuscaloosa that are out of the ordinary and fill all of their needs.

Decker found his study sanctuary at The University of Alabama Arboretum, a 60-acre nature plot located near the intersection of Veterans Memorial Parkway and Pelham Loop Road.

“I don’t think a lot of people know about it,” he said. “Even though it’s in the middle of Tuscaloosa, it’s so secluded.”

Decker said he usually sits on a few of the benches near a pond and gets to work.

“I get distracted really easily while I’m studying, so I try to go places where I’m not around other people,” he said. “Having that seclusion at the arboretum is definitely helpful for studying.”

Decker said it also helps that there is no Wi-Fi because then he is forced to bring paper copies of his notes. This keeps him from browsing Facebook or checking Twitter.

“I don’t even have to put on any music or anything to block out background noise,” he said. “It’s just the sounds of nature.”

Brian Elmore, a junior majoring in secondary education, said he also enjoys studying outdoors but prefers to string his hammock up along the cliffs of Lake Nichol.

“I like going to the lake to study because it is secluded and peaceful,” he said. “The cliffs provide a comfortable spot to sit down and study for a while.”

However, for some college students, a study spot is not complete unless there is one essential: nearby coffee. This makes coffee shops across the Tuscaloosa area hot spots for students during peak study times like Dead Week.

Caleb Setzer, a sophomore majoring in advertising, enjoys studying at Nehemiah’s, located in the Forest Lake community.

Setezer said he prefers Nehemiah’s over more commercial options like Starbucks because it is much cheaper, and he is able to support a local business.

“Nehemiah’s is just a great place to study if you like the coffee shop feel but don’t want to pay for a cup of coffee at Starbucks,” he said. “Coffee is my go-to drink if I’m going to study, so it just makes sense for me to study there.”

Brittney Dye, a senior majoring in early childhood development, gets her coffee fix while studying at Chloe’s Cup on University Boulevard.

Dye said she enjoys Chloe’s because it is a small, family-owned shop, and it provides a relaxing environment to study.

“The people there are super nice even when you’ve been there for hours,” she said.

Dye said she would prefer Chloe’s over a library any day.

“For me the libraries are usually too distracting,” she said. “If I’m on a loud floor, it’s usually too loud, and quiet floors are too quiet.”

For some students, though, libraries are still their place of choice for study, but they have special places in the buildings where they get the most work done. Sophomore physics major Jason Johnston studies in the basement of Gorgas.

“There is no Internet down there,” he said, “but that helps me get rid of distractions and stay focused.”