By Tea Višnjić
I take pride in very few things as much as my ability to procrastinate work. I call it my ‘most useless superpower’. But more often than not, even the master procrastinators must get work done. Given the ongoing pandemic, it is safest to study at home as much as you can, however, if that is not possible or if you need a change of scenery, here is my definitive ranking of LSE study spaces. However, I must note that the ranking is based on the pre-COVID experience of study spaces, so you might need to wait another year to experience them in their full glory.
1. Pret a Manger
Pret a Manger is clearly not an official LSE study space but given how much time (and money) I spend there, it might as well be. There are quite a few Pret locations near LSE so take your pick. They have enough seating, enough spots with plugs and you are less likely to run into your friends who will distract you from work. They have recently introduced a subscription service for £20 a month that allows you to claim up to five drinks a day. Now, that’s a bang for buck! As such, Pret reigns supreme on this list. Do be careful not to get too cosy and miss your class, I’ve made that mistake one too many times.
2. Lower Ground (LG) Library
If I could marry an LSE location, it would be the LG Library. She is a classy and lively lady, with ample space and a surprising number of working plugs. There are also bean bags should you need a nap, although I don’t think these will be available for the foreseeable future. There is just enough background noise to avoid the eerie silence characteristic of other library zones, but quiet enough so you can focus. However, you will always run into people you know and get distracted. In fact, I rarely get any real work done there, but it gives me a great false sense of productivity.
3. Bean Counter, 32 Lincoln’s Inn (32L)
The Bean Counter was the saving grace of my first-year exams. I toiled over last-minute revision for hours on end there and ascribe most of my good results to this glorious location. I have recently learned this is a divisive opinion, with some people really disliking any 32L study spaces. My advice is to give it a whirl and see for yourself.
It is a less popular study space meaning you are more likely to find a seat. Plugs are limited, however, if you can get one you are in it for the long-haul. The seating isn’t the most comfortable, but you get used to it over time. If you need a little break, the Bean Counter café is pretty good, and the staff are lovely. The music can get a bit loud, but sometimes the only thing that kept me sane whilst revising IR theories was bopping along to Niki Minaj’s Anaconda.
4. Library Silent Zones
There are two things in life I can’t stomach – horror movies and LSE library silent zones. Both give me nightmares. However, that is mainly due to my irrational fear of breathing slightly too loud and earning myself passive aggressive stares from others around me. Bottom line is this space isn’t for everyone and I don’t do well in silent environments. However, no other study space is as effective at stopping you from chatting with friends instead of getting work done which is what earned library silent zones the 4th place on this list.
Do bear in mind that library spaces are usually overbooked and with the library working at 30% capacity next year, it is unclear of how difficult or easy it will be to find a seat there. Happy Hunger Games!
5. The Weston Vegan Cafe, 6th floor SU
The Weston Cafe on the 6th floor of the SU is a great place to get work done. It is cosy, relatively quiet and at the very top of the SU so you are unlikely to run into a lot of familiar faces that will distract you. I am unsure of how many plugs there are so make sure your laptop is charged. The seating is also scarce which is why the 6th floor did not place higher on this list.
The Café itself is pretty good (and vegan!) and opens up to a nice roof terrace should you need a break and some fresh air. Overall, worth checking out.
6. Denning Learning Café, 1st floor SU
Personally, I prefer the 1st floor SU to both library silent zones and the Weston Cafe. However, it is a lot busier, noisier and more likely to get you distracted making it a less ideal study space. Even though there is a lot of available seating, I would avoid lunchtime rush hour as it will disrupt your productivity flow. Outside of lunch hours, there is plenty of available seating and it is not too loud making it a good alternative to the LG library. However, there are limited plugs available so make sure to charge your laptop beforehand.
7. New Academic Building (NAB)
For full transparency, I never use NAB outside of classes and lectures, however, many people swear by it. I don’t know if it’s being hypnotised by the large red ball or NAB genuinely being a decent place to study, but it works. There is seating scattered across the building so you can find your little nook and get stuck in your work. It is way less social than the SU or the library, so if that’s what you’re looking for, earning it bonus study space points. It potentially deserves a higher place on the list, however, I don’t really ~ vibe ~ with it so NAB, unfortunately, did not make the top tier cut.
8. Centre Building (CBG)
Some people will tell you I’m crazy to place the Centre Building this low on the list, but they are wrong. Albeit, a wonderful new building, the CBG is overcrowded and you cannot find an empty seat unless you get there at the crack of dawn or sell your soul (both equally horrid options). You are most likely to waste around 15 minutes wandering around the building like a vulture before conceding there is indeed not a single available seat.
If you do happen to find a free space, congratulations, you are the chosen one. It must be nice being god’s favourite. May the gods of productivity smile down on you and give you the strength to do all your readings since the CBG, overall, is a good environment to get work done in.
Happy studying, everyone!
* N.B. Please note these are all biased opinions and many students would not agree with this ranking. Even though I maintain that I am ultimately right, try out different spaces yourself to see what works best for you.