As a student, you tend to discover certain aspects of your surroundings which you might not notice as a salaried adult. Like the herb garden on the south side of campus, because spices and herbs are so expensive. Or the flammkuchen at Canossa, because after 8 on campus, everything else is closed. Or the silverware with no pfand attached at the Mensacafe, because you lost all your forks in the grass after several rounds of ‘schwenker’ nights.
Okay, I was only kidding about the last one 😉
In any case, the longer you spend on campus, the more you become aware of these interesting tidbits and keep them in mind when future needs arise. Still, the one thing I have always regretted, living in Saarbrücken, is not having found my ideal place to study.
Different people have different needs when it comes to studying. Some students require absolute quiet, some are lucky to have offices as part of their hiwi positions, and still others like to bring flashcards into the forest. For me, none of those options suffice. My ideal study place is in a loud, busy cafe, with a cup of coffee or tea by my side, and a fast internet connection for my laptop. It may seem strange, but the louder the chatter, clanging and banging, the more focused I am in my work, and the more work that gets done.
Nevertheless, this bizarre need is surprisingly difficult to satisfy in Saarbrücken. As I do not have my own office on campus, and the lab is full of scary linux boxes, and my own bedroom is a disaster for distractions, I have searched high and low for a spot that I might call my educational haven. I’ve tried Grandma’s, where the coffee is good, but the grumpy Grandma always comes to shoo anyone with a laptop away from the power outlet. I’ve considered Ubu Roi, the cafe downtown, but like all cafes in Germany, there is no free wifi (or any wifi at all). And in the end, I have often settled for the Mensa cafe which has an abundance of coffee, campus internet, and power outlets galore.
Which works, for the most part, except for Friday afternoons, like today, when you are kicked out at 3:00 so they can close early. Then where to go?
Luckily this holiday season has been good to me. Out of a lack of better options, I finally found myself at the AC, the foreigner’s cafe on campus, which is open until 8pm, where I can access the campus network, but which typically has no power outlets available. Except at Christmastime, where, if you look carefully, you can find a nice power strip behind the Christmas tree connected to the outlet in the ceiling.
Man, I love Christmas.