The great outdoors can be pretty great

NIU’s best outside study spots


Nyla Owens

A young woman sitting and reading on a bench in front of a pond. The bench is in the park next to the Engineering Building, one of the best outside study spots at NIU.

By Sarah Rose, Senior Lifestyle Writer

As the warmer weather inches closer, moving our study time into the great outdoors proves to be beneficial for our minds and bodies. 

Human beings aren’t wired to be indoors 24/7. Take advantage of the spring weather and feel the sun. Going outside and experiencing a new studying atmosphere improves mentality and introduces a new, active environment. 

According to the American Psychology Association, self control is better attained in natural environments and allows for better “attentional control” and skilled memory. Choosing to study outside for exams or tests will help you with retaining information. 

“Nature replenishes one’s cognitive resources, restoring the ability to concentrate and pay attention,” according to the APA.

Other than getting vitamin D from being outside, going out and touching the grass proves to be mentally beneficial. A study by Science Advances details that experiencing nature decreases mental distress and anxiety as well as improving one’s sleep quality. Changing up one’s studying environment can make that tedious work less boring and can make you more engaged. 

It will also get you more of those precious sleeping hours. Going to bed knowing the work for the day is done allows for a restless slumber. Studying with others may make students more productive than if they studied by themselves. Friends can keep each other accountable for the work they end up not completing. 

The NIU campus offers several outdoor spots for students to study. All you have to do is pack up your books and find one. 

The East and West Lagoons are as beautiful as they are peaceful. Sitting on one of their benches or on a blanket to study allows you to connect with the nature around you and gain health satisfaction. To jazz it up, go out and sit with friends.

Next to Barsema Hall and the Engineering Building sits a field large enough to have guaranteed peace and quiet. It’s far away from the central part of campus and rarely gets any pedestrian traffic. Those who live in Neptune, Patterson, Grant or Stevenson will have to take a bit of a stroll to reach the field, but this study spot cannot be missed. 

In between the Stevenson and Grant towers, an area titled “Central Park” includes concrete benches and expanses of grass to stretch out and study on. Though other students will be walking through Central Park creating noise, Saturdays and Sundays are the quietest. The trees will offer the much-needed shade when the sun decides to stop hiding behind the clouds. 

Making an effort to try to study outside at least once a week will yield fruitful mental, emotional and physical long-term health benefits. Take advantage of the warm weather and touch some grass. 

Students can feel free to offer their favorite outdoor study spots on a collaborative map. Visit NIU’s Instagram page @niunorthernstar to submit your most favorable locations.