Joy in Cozy Campus Spots

As a commuter, it has been extremely important for me to find cozy spots on campus so I can sit back and unwind during my long days. Sitting in the library can be daunting, as it makes me feel like I need to be at my most productive. Together with the no-food rule that many libraries enforce, it can be difficult to find joy within the walls of Robarts or Gernstein. As I progress through my week of classes, I find myself drawn to certain parts of the buildings my classes are in, since they allow me to take a step back from the madness of midterms and papers in order to take a break. I find #JoyatUofT through the buildings that house my lecture halls, allowing me to find happiness even in the gloomy times of midterms and assignments. I’ve included some pros and cons to each of these destinations, to give you a better idea of when these spots might be a good fit for you too!

  1. Terrence Donnelley Centre Bamboo Garden

This place is likely not a secret to many U of T students, but I was amazed when my friend first showed me the wonders of this bamboo garden. With the snow-covered winter grounds of our St. George campus, I can’t help but feel I need to get away from it all, and this does the trick! This environment makes me feel calm and collected. Before a midterm or final, I often sit here and try to escape those negative, self-doubtful thoughts. It’s fairly close to the Exam Centre, so it’s better than being packed like a sardine waiting for the doors of EX200 to open.

Photograph of the bamboo garden in the Terrence Donnelly Centre
The Bamboo Garden is a great place to unwind between classes, either with friends or alone

Pros: Not a library and not too far from my Life Sci courses. Benches are great if you need a nap or, if you’ve got the whole squad joining you, to chat.

Cons: Only benches, no tables. This can make it difficult for eating lunch or if you want to be on your laptop.

2) Sidney Smith Hall Lounge

Being in Arts and Science, some days it feels like I never leave Sidney Smith Hall. From the exterior, Sid Smith appears as a massive concrete building that gives me high school vibes, with its vinyl floors and confusing room numbering system. Initially, Sid Smith was the last place I wanted to go but with two lounges, it actually isn’t a bad spot to be! There is one lounge directly to your left when you first walk in from St. George Street. If you enter through the St. George Street entrance, you can also continue past the Second Cup to find a second lounge which has all the tables you could want.

Photograph of windows viewing St. George Street
One of two Sidney Smith Lounges. This one faces St. George Street.

I love the chairs that face St. George Street. The natural lighting is great if you want to read.

Pros: Close to food trucks, and a food-friendly environment. Tables!

Cons: Can get fairly busy by mid-afternoon, making it difficult to find a seat.

3) Earth Sciences Centre

There are so many nooks and crannies in this massive building. As its name suggests, the building is devoted to geology, but the earth grows plants—and I love the warm views of greenery it provides. One of my favourite spots is the bench on the landing above ES1050. It used to be a secret, but I guess it’s not anymore… oh well. This building makes 3 hour lectures of Genetics less overwhelming.

Photograph of bench in front of glass windows
Despite the frost-tainted glass, Earth Sciences Centre has quaint little spots to sit scattered throughout

Pros:

  • Glass windows, meaning you can have natural lighting.
  • There is a fair bit of greenery surrounding this building, making the view even calmer.
  • Good place to sit and reflect, especially when you just need some solo time to unwind.

Cons:

  • The whole building is a little confusing to get around. The first time I went through this building, I felt like a deer in the headlights.

All throughout campus, I have these favourite spots that I gravitate towards. Being able to unwind between classes helps me feel joy before the next lecture. If you’re looking for a new cozy spot, the best thing to do is wander through nearby campus buildings. Part of the fun is the discovery! But if you want to be methodical, check out map.utoronto.ca/ and select “Student Spaces” for potential options.

Do you have a favourite nook on campus that you want to share? Leave me a comment below!

Join the conversation! Follow @UofTStudentLife on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for chances to WIN some cozy prizes, and spread the joy at U of T using the hashtag #JoyAtUofT. 

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