Finding a Different Desk Everyday

A photo of Olin LIbraryOne of the most exciting and eventful times of my life was arriving at Cornell and diving into the “college experience”. But during this time I also knew that coming to Cornell to study engineering has the unfortunate consequence of having to study. A lot.

At first I began working alone in my room at my cluttered desk for hours on end. This routine quickly and inevitably fell victim to the seductive nature of the internet and Netflix. So I decided to change up where I study and began to explore what Cornell’s libraries, atriums, and study spaces have to offer.

Cornell gave me a wide variety of study spaces to choose from, and places to work at all hours of the day, and on all corners of its campus. I came to appreciate Cornell’s many naturally lit atriums. The average Cornell Engineer’s world revolves around the bustling metropolis of Duffield Atrium. This expansive atrium is an amazing place to meet friends and hang out. By now, the end of sophomore year, I find it impossible to walk through the building without meeting at least one friend of mine. Duffield Atrium also allowed me to work alone at a desk with the humm of college gossip and nerdy academic conversations to comfort me. On top of this atrium I found more lounges, nooks and open study spaces on just the engineering quad then you can count on two hands! The Physical Sciences Building atrium is located closer to North Campus and has a similar vibe as Duffield. It is naturally lit with many large round tables, the rush of self-absorbed physics majors and the smell of freshly toasted panini from Goldie’s cafe. Right next to the atrium there is the Physical Sciences Library, where I would settle in for an hour of productive work done between classes at personal desks lined next to large glass windowed walls.

A photo of the Fine Arts Library in Rand HallDespite the pomp of atriums, I often found my most productive hours spent in the libraries of Cornell. I tried studying in the isolated “stacks” of Olin Library (known for those who grind the hardest). The “stacks” feature sparsely placed desks in between stacks of dusty books from every genre one can imagine, that run as far as the eye can see. Sometimes when I needed inspiration I went to the famous AD White Library that looks like it is straight out of a Harry Potter book. But I found my real home among the modern decor of the cocktail lounge of Uris Library and the marbled lower floor of the Industrial and Labor Relations Library!

I believe variety is the spice of life, and I began to enjoy the luxury of not only studying at a different desk every day of the week, but an entirely different building or even college. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Cornell leaves the vast majority of its buildings, rooms and libraries unlocked and open for all to enter!

Cornell gave me the perfect environment to adjust to the new workload that college dropped on me. I was able to find study groups or work collaboratively with friends around campus. Many of my friends have never done work anywhere near where they live, and only leave campus when they are done for the day! I sometimes do work in my room when necessary, but mostly find environments that satiate my study desires. This has kept me on track with work so I have been able to find precious time to hang out with friends and try some of the many extra-curriculars Cornell has to offer!

—Zoltan ’22, computer science