As examinations slowly but surely draw nearer, it seems like the days of going out and having fun are gradually being substituted by days chained to a desk. However, this need not necessarily be the case. Life is about striking a balance between work and play, and hanging out in town is perhaps synonymous with having fun.
With the wide array of shops and entertainment, the last thing one would expect when one heads to town is to study. However, the shopping and civic districts of Singapore do offer some surprising places for one to lay out one’s books.
With the affordable food prices and free wi-fi, fast food restaurants are highly popular as a studying spot for many young people attempting to study in town. One added advantage about fast food establishments like McDonalds is that some of them stay all night long, which allows the hardcore to continue deep into the night.
However, at the same time, one does have to put up with many inconveniences associated with fast food establishments. They are generally more crowded and noisy, especially during the peak lunch periods. Even though they have wifi, at the restaurants that I have gone too, they have a tendency to be on the slower side of things. The smell from all the deep fried food also has a tendency to linger rather unpleasantly around after a prolonged period.
For individuals who have a bit more to spare, going to a coffee joint like Starbucks may be a better idea. Compared to a fast food chain, coffee joints with their comfy sofas score a higher point in terms of ambience, and one does not return home at the end of the long day smelling like a stale piece of Kentucky Fried Chicken.
The issue here lies with which coffee joint is the most conducive for studying. From experience, Starbucks and Coffee Beans located in popular shopping malls tend to be rather noisy and distracting. This author once made a mistake in attempting to study at the Starbucks located in Wheellock Place. Unfortunately it so happened to be the Fashion Week in Singapore, and the steady stream of models getting their caffeine fix in between their runway shows proved to be a source of much distraction.
However, having said that, peaceful places do surprisingly exist in the Orchard Shopping belt. Orchard Central, for one, has nooks and crannies that are hidden away from crowds, even on a supposed busy Saturday evening. Finding a seat is not usually a problem in the Coffee Bean located on the first floor. The ambience too is cool, given the interesting art installations that found in various parts of the mall.
Meanwhile in the civic district, the Coffee Bean located at Plaza by the Park, opposite SMU and the Singapore Art Museum is relatively quiet and one of the most conducive one around. Located near the MaghainAboth Synagogue at Waterloo Street, from time to time one can see Orthodox Jews clad in black, complete with their hat, popping by for coffee, which is somewhat a refreshing and unusual sight in tropical Singapore.
Another recommended mugging spot is at One Fullerton overlooking the Marina Bay. Though it is very much a tourist spot, having 2 Starbucks and a Coffee Bean within close proximity means that there is generally little trouble in finding seats, particularly during the weekdays. To top it off, the view of the bay is pretty hard to beat.
In order to justify hogging a spot in an F&B outlet, one usually is expected to be a patron. However, if one is unwilling to spend, it is still possible to find conducive places to study in town.
The underpass beneath the Singapore Management University (SMU) is one such place. With ample benches and air condition, and a 5 minute walk away from Plaza Singapura, it could not be a better place to hit the books while waiting for friends joining you in a movie to arrive.
However, this place loses out because of the lack of internet access for non-SMU students. Also, because SMU is such a happening school, the place does get a bit more rowdy during the weekends with CCA sometimes being held in close proximity. Having the exams near the corner also mean that much of the benches are fiercely coveted over. So my advice is, if you wake up late, it is better if you don’t bother trying to go there.
People who can only study in absolute silence will prefer going to public libraries. Situated between the City Hall area and Orchard, the13 storey Central Library at Bugis is the natural magnet for town muggers. The library provides a study area at its 5th floor, however space is very limited and people queue up outside the room as early as 8 am, to “chope” their favourite spot when the place opens at 9. Meanwhile, the basement, where the loanable book collection is located, traffic seems to be rather high, which might come across as distracting.
A better area to study in peace is at the Reference collection at the upper storeys of the library. The standing policy of refusing entry to people bringing in non-library books no doubt deter significant amount of people trying their luck in mugging there. However, having said that, they do allow people with laptops and a healthy amount of notes to enter. With the free wi-fi, rooftop gardens, city skyline and the quiet environment, this place ranks high in conduciveness for study.
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