{shortcode-e1ddfe20ab323f0e196df3e9d3d210649c11fd5a}Just like every other book-loving romantic, I spent the final years of my childhood picturing studying by windowed walls, basking in natural light as I typed up a ten page essay or published my next article. In my dreams of the future, my glasses were aesthetic — not functional — and I had an endless supply of cable-knit sweaters and vintage skirts. Most importantly, while my right hand was busy scanning a neurotic text or sketching out notes, my left hand securely clasped a porcelain cup.

Not even a month into arriving on campus, my dream — or delusion — shattered. The reality of studying in coffee shops provides far more hurdles than a 12-year-old nerd could possibly anticipate.

Coffee tables have a low, LOW carrying capacity

While the marble counters on Tatte’s second floor and the wooden surfaces bordering Blue Bottle Cafe are perfect for resting an elbow or two coffee cups when you visit with a friend, they lack the surface area to withstand the clutter of the average workaholic’s backpack. By the time I’ve shaken out two crumpled notebooks, a computer, three chargers, my headphones, and the occasional textbook, the tabletop looks like a jenga tower — if it's still standing.

They never have any outlets… ever

Usually, by the time my day is free enough to make space for a cup of caffeine, I’ve spent a couple classes’ worth of battery on taking notes and responding to emails. By the time I sit down with my teacup, my laptop is fighting for its life. Worst of all, it seems everyone else is prepared for this outlet shortage. At my lowest, I spent an afternoon at Bluestone Lane sipping tea and making aggressive eye contact with my computer charging behind another patron’s table. PSA: If you STILL plan on using your devices, bring them fully charged, trust me.

Sticky drinks and studying don’t go together

Hot liquids, technological devices, and sticky snacks do not go together. When you truly become devoted to the practice of buying a chai latte and any selection from the bakery before you sit down and pull out your laptop, it won’t be long before your trackpad sticks to your fingertips and your screen looks like a muddy rainbow. Don’t walk into class with a coffee stained p-set. Avoid the crumbs before your keys get jammed by sugar and salt. Keep the messy drinks and their accompanying pastries far away from your final project.

We’re at a cafe, why even bother?

When I curl up on a couch at Smith next to my best friend on a Wednesday night, or bunker down with a project partner at Cabot, the social pressure to look studious, the moody vibes, and the white noise of computers clicking keeps me going. But when I settle into a busy coffee shop with a cozy ambiance and a new shot of energy, all study plans quickly degrade into endless tea sessions and complaints about burdensome course loads.

There you have it, the four reasons why I fail and fail and fail again at studying in coffee shops. If it works for you, I don’t mean to bring you down with me. Please! Continue spilling coffee onto your handouts and keep typing with oily fingers. Bunker down until your computer dies, and then wallow in self pity. Delude yourself and turn study sessions into group hangouts. If that’s not enough, knock over a porcelain cup when you slam your laptop closed and feel the heat of humiliation.

Take my advice — keep your coffee dates and study sessions separate…you can always get that cup of joe to go.