We’ve all heard it before. It’s a common piece of Georgetown advice: break the bubble.

Although we live in one of the most interesting, important and approachable cities in the nation, it’s all too easy to fall into a comfortable pattern and never step outside of campus. A trip to the zoo or a Smithsonian museum would be nice, but that unwritten essay on Marx, the econ problem set and the mountain of reading waiting for you at home annihilate any and all of your plans.

In the midst of all this, it seems like a foray into the District is an unaffordable luxury. But there’s an easy way to see the city and simultaneously get that pile of work out of the way. It’s simple: Bring your work with you and find your own urban study spot.

For me, that means a coffee shop. Caffeine is a necessary motivator, and I thrive with a healthy amount of white noise in the background. But even for those that need complete silence, a study spot beyond the confines of campus is easily found. I’ve outlined some of my favorite areas below; there should be something for every taste. Grab your computer, say goodbye to that sad Lau cubicle for a while and see the city.

The friendliest spot in walking distance is hands-down Soho Tea & Coffee, a family-run coffeehouse that’s just across the P Street Bridge. A quick glance at its website illustrates the mission of this little coffeehouse — the proprietors love to post photos of their regulars on the website, and they profess a love of good friends and local art. If you plant yourself here for an hour or two, you’ll probably meet the owners as they offer you a glass of water. Come by twice and they’ll be on the way to knowing your life story. This is the best choice if you’re looking for moral support and a friendly atmosphere.

Georgetown Public Library is also an easy walk from campus. This gorgeous brick building offers a well-lit reading space with plenty of tables to spread out. There are plenty of outlets, too, so you won’t have to waste time doing laps around the room to find a good spot to plug in. Best of all, the library is just down the street from Safeway, so you can get your studying and your grocery shopping done in one trip. There’s no excuse not to go.

The Kogod Courtyard is easy to find: It’s sandwiched right in between the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. This giant courtyard boasts free Wi-Fi, a corner cafe and covered seating under a giant glass ceiling. This huge, open space is the antithesis to the cramped corners of Lau. The courtyard is easy to access as well — it’s right off the Gallery Place Metro stop. Just try to get here during the day; the courtyard is often booked for special events at night. Take the Red Line to Gallery Place-Chinatown and you’ll be right there.

The Coupe is a coffee shop with a twist — the cafe is complemented by a bar and gastro pub menu, so those mid-study cravings won’t pose a problem. Furthermore, this place is open 24 hours a day, so you can go at any time. The Coupe is in the Columbia Heights area, so it’s probably best to take the Metro. It will spit you out right in front of Target — convenient, yes? Make sure you have a large block of unscheduled time if you choose this location. It’s a little harder to reach, and this neighborhood offers plenty of distractions.

My favorite place to study may not be too original, but it offers quite the view. The Starbucks in Chinatown is a verifiable study haven for a few reasons. First of all, there are two stories, so there are always plenty of spots available. The best seat in the house is on the second floor at the end of the room. A counter is set up right in front of a huge bay window that looks out over the Friendship Archway. The people-watching and photo opportunities here are both incredible.

Whatever you decide upon, you can’t go wrong. And if none of these locations sounds good to you, just ride the Metro to any stop in the city, get out and look for the nearest coffee shop or library. With any luck, you’ll stumble across your own little Washington, D.C. gem.

Erin Hickok is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. District On A Dime appears
every other Friday in the guide.

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