It was only last September when I wrote about my fears of private university education and the social awkwardness I anticipated that could only have come to someone attending an institution way above their income bracket. The solution to my awkwardness of being alone in the crowded room of USC every day was to revert back to high school and – like that scene from Mean Girls where she doesn’t know where to sit at lunchtime so she just eats in the bathroom stall – find places to pass the study-time between classes without the scrutiny of those with on-campus pals.

So at the risk of flooding my secret library nooks and far-out private places with other sometime-loner, getaway-seekers, I am divulging my favorite quiet spots to plug-in (the computer) and tune-out (stress).

Leavey Library computer commons:

My go-to study place is the cavern of silence filled with computers that lays one floor below Leavey Library’s ground level. Several times a week, I run down the stairs, confront the gross absence of noise and utilize the crap out of the few school computers to have Microsoft Word installed. I have to be careful, though – the workers always look severely bored, and the silence goes all night so unless I’m on an Apple in the far corner (underneath one of the skylights made of translucent floor tiles), I lose all concept of time.

34th Street stairwell of PSD/“Stairway to heaven:”

Sometimes, I climb to the top level of the highest parking structure on campus and watch the chaos below (especially fun during a McCarthy Quad extravaganza). The roof-less eighth floor of PSD provides optimal views of downtown and the surrounding school buildings, but just to make it interesting, I’ll climb the last half-flight of rickety metal stairs and read by the locked door of the stilted brick storage room (8-1/2 floor?). The view from my crow’s nest is even better and watching people walk to their car has never been more creepy.

Journal stacks at Doheny:

Doheny Library houses another underground lair of silence I like to hibernate in; something about the emptiness of subterranean book stacks makes me feel like I’m on the imagination end of The Neverending Story. Whenever I have a few hours, I’ve gotten in the habit of taking the elevator five floors down to burying myself in The New Yorker magazines from the 1920s and Semiotic journal articles about rock concerts. This is a great resource for obscure art ideas.

Barbecue courtyard outside Scene Dock Theatre:

Although I’ve never hijacked the steel-drum barbecue that often sits open in this shady, overgrown courtyard, I have utilized the empty tables for many a treeside study session. Bordered by the School of Theatre’s main performance venue, the seemingly abandoned Denney Research Building and a locked gate to Vermont Boulevard, this space is about as “rustic hideaway” as USC gets and is worth the walk to the outer rim.