“Cause it’s comfortable…” One Calvin student giving me a questioning look as I ask her such an out of the blue question. I looked around and attempt to raise my eyebrow. Really? It’s comfortable for who and why be in the bipolar Michigan weather when you can be in the warmth inside. What is the forecast for someone to choose to be outside and study for class? Is it worth it honestly? Many people walking down the path will notice students sitting and studying in various spots while studying and that is surprisingly one popular place when the weather is to look nice.
Discussing with some friends and random people, as to what makes a good studying or chill spot in the library. What many of them said was how the atmosphere is and what it looks like honestly. Out of the 20 people I asked, all in common discussed the common area where there are options for others to join them and for people to come and interrupt. How? To study, I would assume most people would want to get away and not be bothered. However, it looks to be that there must be people around or an interruption waiting to happen.
The many outdoor hotspots that you can be found on campus are interesting and many students have reasons as to why they determine where. What better way than to bother some semi-stressed college students than to approach them in the middle of them studying in spots outdoors. The tables outside the Hekman Library is a huge hot spot once it hits above 60 degrees. I asked several people studying and enjoying their lunch/dinner where it varied from weird stares to complete laughter on their part. A sophomore nursing student, Lynnea Yarhouse, with a group of friends were cocooned at one table with their several laptops in a circle. I asked each of them why they decide that the outdoor tables were the place to be.
“Well, I like that we don’t have to watch our volume as much as being inside even the loudest part of the library.” I laughed because there is only one part of the library you can be moderately loud and that is the second floor (technically.) She continues, “Also, there is more room.” Her friend interrupts, “I also have to pee every 36 minutes for some reason so I need to be near the bathroom.” It was an interesting interview but it was a great point as to why people study outdoors and how they weigh the pros and cons. After an hour or so, another large group came over and it was interesting how they were very group oriented and how they didn’t want to study away from each other.
I read a study, 11 Ways Your Study Environment Affects Productivity by Western Governors University, I found very interesting. It touched bases on how ways of studying can affect how you process information and how where you study is almost as important as what you are studying. “For a short time, you may be able to stay focused in hot or humid places, but after a while, these circumstances can become unbearable. Similarly, if you’re too cold, that quickly becomes all you can think about, and studying suffers. The solution: When you can control your environment — you have access to a thermostat, for example — set the temperature to a comfortable, constant level. But if you have to study at a library or public place where you can’t control the temperature, try to have a sweater or glass of ice water handy.” This was extremely vital and it answers part of my question as to why people study outdoors and near the library when you can just study inside.
Another article I read by USA Today College, Why you should be studying outside, was how there are three huge benefits to studying outdoors. The top benefit is how it concentrates on stress and how studing outside can reduce stress, especially as a college students. You rarley go outside, you are in classes, you have assignments and projects coming up fast, and it is easy to just lock yourself away and be in your dorm all day.
In the article it states, “As a busy college student, you probably feel at least a little stressed some of the time. While a bit of stress in certain situations can be a good thing (think: when you need to get a project done on a tight deadline), too much stress can wreak havoc on your mental and physical well-being. Some scientists have found that getting out into nature can help decrease stress levels. People tend to have lower physical measurements of stress — such as heart rate and blood pressure — and report lower levels of stress when working in such environments. While experts aren’t exactly sure why this is so, some believe it might have something to do with human’s instinctive affinity for other living things — people, plants, and animals. Studying outside where you can see, hear, and smell the natural world around you can increase your brain’s feel-good chemicals, putting you in an overall better mood.”
Living in Michigan, it was difficult to understand why people are so comfortable choosing to be outdoors when it is easy to just be cooped up indoors. I have been in Grand Rapids, Michigan most of my life and I still find it difficult to be outdoors by choice. Now, I have some sort of appreciation as to why people study outside Hekman Library because it is there preference and also many of the people I interview and talked to were from different states (much warmer states) and they were so used to being outdoors to where it reminds them of home.