Best study spots: Off-campus edition

By in Culture

When life presents distractions at home or school, situating ourselves in that perfect off-campus study spot can be a key ingredient to student success and sanity. Just in time for reading week, I explored some of Saskatoon’s best spots so you know just where to go.

City Perks 

City Perks is a City Park treasure. Its casual and unassuming exterior gives way to a room full of calming ambiance. It feels like home, only better. I snacked on a muffin and sipped an americano, both of which tasted as though they were made specifically for my palette — and I’m a picky eater.

Consistent with the neighbourhood, the decor at City Perks is suitably eclectic. A single exposed brick column in the centre of the room appears to support an adjoining wall and vaulted ceiling. I Study Spots - Ashley Britzcounted at least six different styles of light fixtures from the table where I sat and they all worked together perfectly. The place is always crowded with friends, couples and people working or studying alone and it’s still easy — pleasant, even — to hear yourself think.

Food and beverages are both delicious and reasonably priced. There is also beer and wine  behind the counter — a perfect reward for having completed your evening studies.

D’Lish by Tish Cafe

D’Lish sits in the middle of a residential Nutana intersection, as if someone dropped it there by accident and allowed it to grow spontaneously. Filled with character, one room is painted blue and the other yellow, while mismatched artwork lines the walls and complements the eclectic light fixtures. Variety is the theme. The soft and comfortable furniture clearly originated in the  living room of someone’s mom in the 1970s or 1980s. I sipped a sweet, smooth and affordable mocha and ate the world’s chewiest gingersnap cookie.

To my left sat a world map with a sign above it that aptly reads “Been there, rocked that.” On my right were paintings of mountains, chemicals, trees, what looked like a San Francisco street and, next to it, paintings depicting a prairie field and a rooster, respectively. I was in the blue room, but the yellow room has a painting of a tipi at sunset and across from it a beach, both beautifully textured in acrylic — plenty of variety to get creative juices flowing.

Calm and relaxed tunes played quietly in the background. I was inspired and ready to work. Plus, once again, there was the tantalizing reward of wine behind the counter.

Collective Coffee

I chose Riversdale’s Collective Coffee as my last stop on this expedition. While the previous two spots are calming to the senses, Collective Coffee differs in its modern, clean lines and relatively cohesive, deliberate decor. The drawings that line the wall near the front of the building are all connected in style and subject matter.

The room I worked in had no artwork. None. I have always appreciated modern structures in their perfect simplicity, yet having sat in the previous two cafes’ character-filled buildings with their mismatched charm earlier in the week, these bare walls were a disappointment — however, the blank slate may appeal to students who are easily distracted.

The music was pleasant, as were the patrons who filled the space. Collective Coffee offers free WiFi and they advertise that when you log in, they will send you a coupon for a free beverage. I waited for mine for quite a while as it hovered at an undisclosed location in cyberspace, but still, I love the principle.

Unfortunately, however, electrical outlets are difficult to come by at Collective. Also, the acoustics are such that when the place really fills up, it is difficult to hear oneself think. The company operates on a sustainable model, however, and that is to be commended.

When the libraries are closed or your apartment is feeling too cramped, try out some of these spots for your next study session. This expedition proved to be a welcome departure from my comfort zone. My list of places to study — and hopefully yours — just became a whole lot more interesting.

Patty Hails

Graphic: Ashley Britz