I entered the Rotch Library to a sea of coffee cups, books, laptops, and heads bent in intense concentration. As I took a sip from my own coffee cup, I realized that my life had evolved into this regimented schedule of sleep, work, extracurriculars, more work, food in between, and then back to sleep. I had no time to relax and from what I saw of my peers in the library, they didn’t either.
At MIT, especially during crunch time, it can be difficult to fit in relaxation time. Every caffeine-injected minute becomes valuable, and the stack of papers, p-sets, and exams becomes a colossal force to be reckoned with. In the process of battling the academic sphere of our lives, we become so engrossed in the heat of it all that we forget that we might potentially need to take a few minutes to relax with friends or sleep.
I decided that I was now going to adopt “study-parties” as my form of balancing a social life and academics. “Study-parties” are essentially times where a couple of friends and I do work together and take planned breaks every hour or so for about 10 minutes. In my search for places at MIT to combine social life and academics, I found a few lounges and study areas that effectively balance both. Here is my short-list of places where you can go with friends to have study-parties or hang out.
Rainbow Lounge (50-005)
The Rainbow Lounge, run by LBGT@MIT, is a cozy and bright space in the basement of Walker Memorial. Bright yellow walls complement red chaises in the main space and some basic study amenities are provided: a desktop, printers, sound system, and a DVD player for movies. There is also a small kitchenette that accommodates small cooking projects. For those of you who are like me, you’ll take solace in knowing that the lounge even has a stash of Dum Dum Pops. There is also an inner room adjoining the main area with a library of literature and movies associated with LBGT topics. Open from 2–5 p.m. Monday, 12–6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and 12–5 p.m. Friday, the Rainbow Lounge offers a nurturing space that allows you to come in the middle of the day to do work or relax in a comfortable setting.
Lounges in Stata Center
There’s a lot more to Stata than I had originally thought. There are multiple lounges in various parts of Stata. Of the multiple options, I visited two large areas that were convenient for group p-setting or relaxing. There is a study space in the Gates Building on the ninth floor that has sofas, coffee tables, long tables conducive to group work, and whiteboards. There is also a “common area” on the fourth floor of Stata as you go towards the Dreyfoos Building that has multiple tables for students to sit together and hang out or do work. Though I didn’t personally visit other lounge spaces, there are small lounge areas within Stata that have dart boards and pingpong tables for those 10 minute breaks from work. Open 24/7 with ID access, these spaces are conducive to either work or relaxation.
Marlar Lounge (37-252)
Nestled in Building 37, the Marlar Lounge was a gem. It had the perfect space for hanging out, practicing presentations, or doing group work. The room is divided in half by a sliding divider. The left side has a conference room-type atmosphere with chairs, presentation screens, a projector, and a lectern to practice group or individual presentations. The right side houses multiple couches and tables to either do work or relax. Bring a board game or a deck of cards and play for a bit.
Margaret Cheney Room (3-310)
The Margaret Cheney Room, exclusively for MIT women, has an open lounge area with couches and tables. In the main foyer, there are a few large windows that bring light into the room to make the atmosphere warm and welcoming. There’s also a Steinway grand piano for the music aficionados who would like to get some musical relaxation in.
The Cheney room also boasts a kitchen and supplies for baking projects. And if you want to take a relaxing shower to calm your nerves, there’s also a shower room in the lounge.
Given Lounge (35-520)
The Given Lounge is open with special access from the Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity. Go to the second floor of Building 35 to request access and the key for the lounge for any planned study parties you may have!