I’ve been doing many, many sit-ups lately. This poster I found on Facebook will explain what I mean:
Last Tuesday (or was it Wednesday? Aiyah!), I just didn’t feel like getting up. So I stayed in bed. I lay motionless on my bed for more than 14 hours. I could feel the heat of the afternoon sun slowly fading to an evening chill, and I still refused to get up.
I finally got out of bed a quarter till 5 p.m. I had slept the whole day away, even though I was in the middle of finals week. The only reason I even got out of bed was because 1) my head was killing me; 2) my stomach was starting to growl and 3) I had a final project due at 9 p.m. that I haven’t finished. My life is so tragic.
As you may have guessed, I’ve been pretty frazzled lately.
Several things have happened which has been chipping away my confidence and zen. Monday was the day of my last two finals (as long as I get at least a B, I think I’ll be happy), but it’s just the beginning to a long summer of work, work, work.
Tomorrow I need to get up (or not sleep) at 4 in the morning, because I’ll be flying back to the East Coast in preparation for the World Journalism Institute NYC Convergence course. I still have four articles due for one of my internships, plus several more homework assignments due before my first day of “summer class” at New York City.
As excited as I am for the summer journalism course, I wish I had at least a week to recuperate. I’ve been feeling rather weak, both physically and mentally. Actually, I’ve been feeling downright stupid and lethargic. I feel like half my brain cells have been shut down, and I’m nervous about how I’m going to perform at the upcoming intensive journalism program.
Thankfully, I recharged this Sunday. I spent the whole day at church; I went to three services from 11 a.m. till 8 p.m. and somehow, I felt revitalized and re-inspired by all the wonderful and relevant sermons I absorbed that day. I might just share them in bits and nuggets sometime in the following weeks.
My friends and I like to go on “study dates.” That term is deceiving because it’s neither a date nor do we actually study more than an hour. But trust me—within that hour, I get SO much stuff done. I’m more productive within that hour than I am three hours in my house. That’s why I always go on “study dates” when I need to cram for an exam or a paper.
(My friend Eva, working on some journalism stuff at Cafe Storygarden.)
Anyway. In no particular order, here’s my top favorite places to steal wi-fi from study.
1. Bricks & Scones
This little tower, located at the charming Larchmont neighborhood, is no longer a hidden gem. At all times of the day, it’s packed with mostly young people typing away into their laptops, highlighting their textbooks or chatting quietly by the sunlit porch.
It’s built like a long, skinny fairytale tower. You walk in and step under this enchanting chandelier laced with sheer drapes and crystals.
Bricks & Scones is a family-owned teahouse/cafe, and it exudes that kind of cozy feel. It’s like walking into a rich British family’s lounge and just chilling there for hours while being served wonderful scones and tea.
And yes, Bricks & Scones does serve amazing scones. Actually, they serve one of the best scones I’ve ever tasted; I just can’t get enough of them! I don’t care if they’re truly traditional British (though I heard that the owners base their recipe off an old British recipe), I just love how doughy and buttery they are.
The scones come in several flavors: blueberry, chocolate chip, cranberry walnut, jam & nutty and even cheese & bacon. It’s not all that crumbly as some scones are, but there is this sensational bite to the scone’s interior. I can’t explain why it’s so delicious; you just have to try it for yourself.
Bricks & Scones offer an afternoon tea set for about $8.99, which comes with a pot of refillable tea, two scones of your choice, clotted cream, lemon curd and jam. Having tried it, however, I won’t recommend this combo. If you add up the price of getting your individual drink and scone, it’s really not worth it.
I prefer to get my own cup of coffee and scone; they add up to about $4-5 anyway.
Also, I kind of found the clotted cream, lemon curd and jam lackluster. The clotted cream was straight from the fridge so it was more like chilled butter than cream; the jam and lemon curd was just…so-so. Nor did I like the fact that they came in little plastic containers; that reminded me of ketchup at McDonald’s.
Or it may also just be because I don’t find tea as exciting and satisfying as bitter, fresh-brewed coffee.
Still, their scones can’t be beat, and I really love their quaint, cozy atmosphere. Just cross your fingers that you find a seat indoors near the power plugs! Or you can also just stand over a particularly weak-looking guy and stare and stare and stare until he sheepishly scuttles away.
2. Gelato Bar
Gelato Bar at Los Feliz is right next to Mt. Hollywood, where I hike weekly with friends. I only found this place because I got an email about a deal going on there: discounted coffee prices at just $1.
So after a brief hike with my friend Jordan, we popped by one day to do an hour’s work (always the maximum, it seems) at Gelato Bar to take advantage of their free wi-fi and their discounted coffee.
I love it! The service is super friendly, and there’s plenty of sample dishes offering bites of pretty much all their baked goods, from their chocolate chunk cookies to their cranberry muffins.
The dangerous thing is that those sample dishes may be sitting right within your reach and you just start nibbling and nibbling and nibbling…you get the idea.
Although Gelato Bar is a really tight, tiny spot, it serves well to what I think is their purpose of emitting the warmth of an old-style Italian kitchen. There are little adorable trinkets from the mid-1900s placed here and there, so you can spend quite some time just observing the details of the interior decorations.
Gelato Bar does the old-fashioned pour-over coffee. They claim to serve the best coffee in Los Feliz.
Well, I haven’t been to enough coffee shops at Los Feliz to judge if it’s true, but I do know that they make a fine cup of coffee. At just $1 for this full-bodied cup of roasty brew, it was a ridiculously awesome steal!
Oh and obviously their gelato is also bomb. I didn’t want to take advantage of this cute, family-owned shop by stealing their coffee, samples and wi-fi, so both Jordan and I decided to buy a cup of gelato each.
How cute! The gelato actually came pricked with a cookie roll! I am totally blanking out on what this cookie is called…I told you I’m feeling stupid these days.
3. Mr. Coffee
This coffee shop isn’t my favorite place, but it is a great spot to study at. There’s soft music in the back to provide just the tiniest bit of background noise, and there’s always plenty of comfortable seats to cuddle into.
It’s located in Koreatown, so expect ludicrously priced drinks. But that also means my $5+ coffee comes with free refills! Not bad if you’re going to stay for hours trying to study or finish a 20-page essay.
Cons, however, is that it gets dark and crowded come evening time. But it’s perfect during the sunny afternoons. Unfortunately, I didn’t take many pictures at this place because I was way too engrossed with my studies. Ha!
4. Hwa Sun Ji
I’ve featured this place several times so I’m just gonna be lazy and add some links.
I love this place as a study room because it’s so tranquil. The owner is lovely—she’s always warm, friendly and smiling, so even when I’m at the verge of pulling my hair out from stress, her pleasant service always calms me down. Unlike many other Korean cafes, she doesn’t need me to ring the bell; she promptly swings by my table, refills my coffee, and after the second refill, warms my empty mug with barley tea.
The coffee here is nothing special, except that it’s served in this adorable heart-shaped cup so it somehow tastes better than it really does.
And when the soft, traditional Korean music starts lolling you to sleep, you can always count on a nice bowl of Korean shaved ice (patbingsoo) to refresh your senses and attention.
5. Cafe Storygarden
Cafe Storygarden is not the best coffee shop or cafe by far, to be honest. The drinks and desserts are way overpriced (well, by Koreatown standards it’s your typical $6-7 per drink price range) and they aren’t even all that great.
But danggit, the guy who works here is super hot. Like K-pop, Japanese manga-style freaking hot. Actually, I’ve noticed the common theme of hotness amongst servers, both male and female, at Korean cafes. As my previous internship boss tried to educate me, “Hotness sells.”
Other than the gorgeous guy serving you iced tea and smoothies, the setting of Cafe Storygarden is dreamy yet minimalistic. It’s a screen of pure, creamy whiteness with artfully mismatched (IKEA?) chairs and random pots of plants and birdhouses.
There’s something about the whiteness of this place that sets my creative juice going. I wrote a few blog posts and articles in this backdrop, in fact.
Again, I like coming here in the bright afternoons when it’s too hot to sit in my non-air-conditioned room. There’s a specific table I like which is set against the full-length glass windows overlooking a patio. Sometimes the sunlight falls into my direction, and it just makes my cool drink all that much sweeter.
Oh, and the patbingsoo here is gorgeous.
Look at that. Seriously, everything here is so modern artsy, down to the careful cross-hatch of chocolaty drizzle. I loved the generosity with the fresh fruits and that full drench of condensed milk and chocolate syrup.
Obviously shaved ice is easy to make at home, but at home, there ain’t a beautiful person serving you a big-ass glass bowl of this glorious thing, is there? Now that should set you off into a good mood, at least cheery enough to spend another 20 minutes working on a school assignment.
And that concludes my Top 5 “Study Date” Spots list. Probably when you read this, I’ll be busy packing and cleaning my room. See you at the East Coast!
Question of the Day: Where are you most productive?