A night at the Student Centre
27 February 2020
Student Journalist Alina takes us on a night tour of the Student Centre, which just celebrated its first birthday.
UCL's Bloomsbury campus is its own universe, an oasis for thought and reflection at the heart of an ever-moving city, and the stomping ground of a most fascinating creature – the UCL student.
Like any ecosystem, the campus is always evolving and, with it, new types of students lend themselves to observation. One such occasion was marked by the opening of the Student Centre in February last year, a space that brings quiet study and team work under the same sleek and modern roof, 24-hours a day, 365 days a year (sometimes 366).
It was at the Student Centre that after nearly three years of observing them in their natural habitat – either gathered around popular watering holes like Printroom Café or Phineas, migrating across campus to and from lectures or hard at work in libraries – I discovered a new student variety: the night owl.
You’re probably thinking this is nothing new, that everyone has pulled all-nighters at one point or other in their academic career. While that may true, those aren't the kind of student I’m talking about here.
A night at the Student Centre is different from what you can encounter during a nocturnal cramming session at the library, for instance, in that it allows for a variety of working experiences. Like that of Sam, a Mechanical Engineering student I met in one of the quiet study rooms on the second floor, who focuses best at night, long after most people have gone to sleep and a rare silence reigns over the city.
"At the weekends my flatmates want to be social", he tells me, "especially since none of them have lectures on Mondays, and I don’t want to stop them from living their lives, so I come here".
On the opposite side of the spectrum sit Chiara, Helena and Claude, ESPS students who are currently working on a group project, which can be tricky in traditionally quiet places. "Between coursework and part-time jobs we all have completely different schedules, so we can only get together and work after 9pm", Chiara says. "We wouldn’t have been able to do this in the library, so having a social study space like this is super convenient".
While we all greatly appreciate the 1000 extra study spaces it provides, they are but a fraction of all that the Student Centre has to offer. Equipped with shower facilities, a café, a Prayer Room – as well as a Meditation Room – and a terrace for well-deserved study breaks, the Centre addresses every necessity that may arise during a student’s work day in a single space, which makes it the perfect destination if you’re looking to have a productive day. And for days when things don’t seem to be going your way, the Centre also features a safe and confidential space where no problem is too small and someone is there to listen to whatever might be going on in your life.
As I took a last turn around the ground floor, trying not to interrupt any groundbreaking work in my search for interviewees, the general response seemed to be the same. From those who do most of their work here to those who simply use it as a shortcut from one side of campus to another, in only one year the Centre has become an integral part of the student experience, so much so that we can barely remember what life at UCL was like before it.