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How Students Utilize Boston University’s Outdoor Study Spaces

by Alexandra Bradley

Fall is officially here and most Boston University students are taking advantage of the city's warm weather to learn and study outside. BU has several outdoor spaces designed for student use, with some of the most popular locations being the COM lawn, the BU beach, and the GSU. Each has a multitude of places where one can sit (alone or with others) while enjoying scenic views of nature, and close-by food options easily accessible through the university's GrubHub app. With these accommodations, studying becomes less of a personal chore and more of an enjoyable experience.

“I usually go to the BU Beach or sit at one of the benches near Marsh Chapel in Marsh Plaza,” said Zoe Rice (CGS '24). “I can go there in the mornings before my class, which is in CAS, and people-watch, one of my favorite things to do if I’m really stressed.”

Studying outside can be a calming activity for students, especially near exam periods. The natural light from the sun and cool breeze is relaxing, and creates a comfortable environment for learning. Similarly, Kelly Lau (CGS '24) mentioned how the combination of nature and the buildings around her is “weird but serene.” She enjoys listening to the sound of cars going by and people chatting, while sitting on top of soft grass surrounded by trees.

Even though Boston is a city with very little greenery, BU has found a way to incorporate nature through its small parks and outdoor study areas. Jasmine Loubriel, a sophomore currently studying in CGS, talked about some of the reasons why she appreciates BU’s outdoor spaces. “Those are some of the only green spaces on campus. I like nature and I feel like it helps me get away from all of the hustle and bustle of college life. Sometimes the GSU is too much for me because everyone is there and it’s so crowded. I want to be able to focus on what I have to get done, instead of paying attention to the outside environment.”

Although the seating outside of the GSU is one of the most popular places to study, its popularity serves as a downside for those trying to get away from their fast-paced, busy lifestyle. There tends to be crowds of people searching for an open table or a bench to sit at, and often students must find another location with more available spots to settle down. In this case, the COM lawn or seating areas surrounding CAS are less populated, and better options for those looking to unwind, or be productive after a long day of classes.

Marsh Plaza, located next to the GSU, is also relatively close to Einstein's Bagels (one of Zoe’s favorite places to get coffee) and Pavement, another cafe right down the street from the GSU. A good meal or drink from one of the nearby restaurants is common for students to have while studying, as most outdoor benches by the GSU are cluttered with Starbucks cups, Panda Express takeout boxes, and Basho bowls. Many students in this area choose to study with a few friends or in small groups. It's the perfect place to plan a study session and grab food in between. Jasmine typically studies at the GSU with friends who share a class with her. “You can work together, get some of your workload off of your shoulders, and it’s more fun that way.” Typically one can see several different groups of students studying clustered together around the tables, conversing with others, and enjoying the day.

Unfortunately, one of the downsides to these outdoor spaces is their unavailability during the winter and early spring months. Warm weather in Boston doesn’t last long, so students must make use of BU’s outdoor study spaces during the beginning of the fall semester, or at the end of the school year. It is important to remember that there will always be a place to study inside, but the placid outdoor atmosphere and the beauty of nearby plants and animals are temporary—at least for a few months. So, the next time that the weather is nice, take that opportunity to go outside and surround yourself with nature. When winter rolls around, you may find yourself wishing for just one more day of sunshine.


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