By Natalie Chu & Iciar Fernandez
You’ve spent four hours sitting at the library, reading the same paragraph three times without understanding any of it, looking at your phone to check the time every three minutes, and staring at the wall for longer than anyone should stare at a wall for.
You know it’s time to close the books and take a break. But where to go?
The campus can be overwhelmingly busy with all those crowds trying to get lunch, rushing during class changeover and the off-balance skateboarders speeding towards you on Main Mall.
But you are in luck! Whether you want to listen to a podcast, take a not-so-brief siesta, scroll through Reddit, rewatch your favourite episode of The Office or just chill with some friends, there’s a place for you.
We’ve done extensive research across campus to tell you about all the hidden and not-so-hidden spots where you can take a breather.
The Commons Lounge
The Commons Lounge was renovated this past summer to give students a new and refreshing area to eat, hang out with some friends, get some work done, or – of course – nap. You’ll find it in the Nest between Iwana Taco and The Pit. The entire space has been completely revamped to make sure that it’s cozier and more modern. It’s also a professional space with a meeting room in case you need to book it for an event.
The Aquatic Centre
As we head into Vancouver’s rainy season, you can escape the cold in the UBC aquatic centre. We are not exactly sure what it is about that place. Maybe it’s the warm aquatic centre air, the quality tunes that echo through the empty space, or the fact that there is hardly anyone there to judge you if you end up watching three episodes of Parks and Rec in a row. Maybe it’s a combination of all three. Either way, it’s a great spot for a brief getaway. Entry is free of charge for students, and if you are feeling adventurous, you can also learn how to scuba dive or take an aquatic yoga class.
Aquatic Centre (UBC Brand&Marketing)
Relax by the ocean at Wreck Beach. It’s a bit of a workout to reach, but we can assure you that nothing beats the beautiful nature views at this not-so-hidden gem. Except perhaps those from the peak of any mountain in Vancouver, but those are a bit out of reach.
If you are one of those ‘rara avis’ in Vancouver that aren’t already a climbing fanatic and want to give the ropes a try, check out The Aviary, an awesome climbing wall located in the Nest! A day pass is $10, and they offer free belay lessons.
Student climbing at the Aviary (AMS)
The Nitobe Memorial Garden & UBC Botanical Garden
This Japanese stroll garden is the ideal place to unwind. Walk along the picturesque paths and clear the stress from your mind – if only for a few minutes. If you are just looking to decompress, UBC Botanical Garden is also an excellent spot to surround yourself with nature and enjoy the perks of attending university minutes away of a magnificent coastal temperate rainforest. What’s more, entrance to the garden is free for UBC students, with your student card!
In front of the Clock Tower
This outdoor space is a perfect place to take a study break. Nestled between IKB and Koerner’s Library, it’s easy to pop out to soak up some sun or get a breath of fresh air. If you’re lucky, you might just see a dog or two!
The Alumni Centre
Another gem hidden in plain sight. The Alumni Centre is a cozy and welcoming space to get things done (or not get things done, that’s your call). You may know about the Loafe Cafe, but just behind the cafe walls are sofas, a fireplace, and endless piano playing in the background. It’s the perfect spot to sip coffee and catch up with your friends.
Comfy red chairs at The Nest
We know what you’re thinking! The Nest is probably the busiest place on campus, there’s no way this makes the list! Just hear us out.
If you head up to the second, third, or fourth floor and walk past the club rooms and meeting spaces, you’ll think you’ve wandered into a different world entirely. The sounds of the busy lunch rush disappear, and you’re left with a quiet space to sit that overlooks the bus exchange and new turf field. The comfy red chairs make for a perfect spot to take a breather between classes. If you’re really looking to hide from your responsibilities, look for ‘the Cocoon’ installation among the second-floor seats.
And, if decompressing means sleeping but unfortunately you don’t have a dorm room, hike all the way up the stairs and you’ll find yourself at the ‘egg’ or the ‘spaceship’, although I think we can all agree that the spaceship is a better name. Naps of otherworldly comfort are guaranteed.
There is no shortage of food outlets and cafes on campus, but if you are just looking for a spot to have a conversation while saving your money, grab a spot in one of the places mentioned above and let the venting about how busy school is to begin.
Remember that UBC is like a city of its own and you should get to know more than its desks. Get movin’!