Work Spaces


I love coming to the library to work, especially when term is over and the desks are plentiful. As I sit, along the far wall of the Q stacks, staring at books with titles such as Handbook of Sample Preparation for Scanning Electron Microscopy and X-Ray Analysis and Biological Stains, with my laptop open and my headphones in, I already feel productive, although I haven’t started any of my work yet.

There’s nothing quite like being in the library stacks for getting work done, or at least TRYING to get work done. (Image Credit: http://www.useoul.edu/gallery?page=1&gaidx=97)

I’m a huge advocate for creating readily accessible work spaces in your home, but as someone who now has an incredibly lax schedule with no real commitments that cause me to leave my apartment, I’ve also come to appreciate the appeal of getting out of your home and into the world. While I may not be speaking to anyone in the library, or even able to see another living thing, I still feel connected to the outside world. I also feel connected to my work, something that can be hard to accomplish in my apartment. After all, in my apartment I also sleep, eat, watch television, cook, clean, shower, talk on the phone, and do myriad other tasks. The library, however, is strictly a place for work.

Of course, in order to get to the library I have to do a lot of preparation. First, I have to pack my backpack with anything I might need. I bring my computer, my computer charger, my headphones, my iPod (for the hour-long bus ride), my bus tickets, my cellphone, any books that I’m currently working my way through, my USB stick, my wallet, gum, and occasionally a snack and a drink. I like to try to make my library trips day-long affairs, although today, as the clock reads 4:06 and I have barely settled in at my desk, I have clearly failed.

As my program has transitioned from the class-work phase into the thesising phase, a lot of things have changed. The structure offered by taking courses and TAing, though minimal, was still a form of structure. It was a structure that forced me to leave my apartment, to interact with others, and gave me something to look forward to. Now, on my wide-open thesis schedule, I find that I go to bed late, wake up late, and then shuffle around uselessly for the time in between. A few of my classmates, perhaps anticipating this kind of disconnected existence, have gone home to write their theses. Of course, part of me wants to go home too. Immediately, if possible. Wouldn’t I get more work done if I were able to have a social life, too? Wouldn’t I spend less time perusing YouTube videos or having Bollywood musical marathons on Netflix if I had the promise of dinner with another living person? Wouldn’t having other people around give me more structure to my days?

On the other hand, going home would mean I would lose access to this library. I would also be further from my supervisor, and while he hasn’t indicated that we’ll be having any face to face meetings the potential is still there. If I go home, wouldn’t my social life cause me to forget entirely about the difficult, lonely, frustrating process of writing a thesis? I’m not sure. For the time being, I’ve decided to stay where I am. I had planned to be at school until the end of May, and I’m going to get as close to that mark as possible. Hopefully, I’ll be able to start working on my thesis enough so that justifying a trip home won’t be so difficult.

But hope shouldn’t have that much to do with it. And in that spirit, I’m going to end this blog entry and finish this freaking book.

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Filed under Academic Advice, My Experiences

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