6 Places to Study in Winston-Salem

Whether it is finals week or just an average week, it can be hard to find a spot to study on campus. The library is filled with stressed out students, every classroom is occupied, and you just can’t bring yourself to study in your room. Sometimes you just need to get out and experience a change of atmosphere, but where do you go?

Before moving to Winston-Salem, I knew nothing about the area, with the exception that it is the home of Krispy Kreme donuts! However, no matter how much research I did, I couldn’t find a blog post that specifically talked about different coffee shops or places in general where I could study outside of Wake Forest University’s campus. I had to take matters into my own hands, just like when I was in Nantes. However, my local friends were kind enough to write out a whole list of recommendations for where to get food, including some coffee shops.

If you are a student in Winston-Salem that isn’t originally from the area, here are some places where you could get some work done:

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Camino Bakery: downtown location

Camino Bakery was by far one of my favorite places to study. This was one of the places that I was able to find out about online before coming to Winston-Salem. It was also highly recommended by locals. There are a few locations, but I have only studied in the downtown location. This place is popular, so you may find yourself struggling to look for a seat if you get there later in the morning or even in the evening.

If you like to people watch, there are bar-type seats that face the window, however, if you prefer to have a bigger table to yourself, there is that option. If you don’t need to work on a laptop or just want to enjoy the nice weather, Camino has outside seating at the picnic tables pictured above. I’ve enjoyed some of Camino’s fall season drinks here with my friends, as well as a delicious nutella scone.

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Twin City Hive

Twin City Hive was another coffee shop that was recommended by some of my local friends. It’s located on Brookstown Avenue, not far from Old Salem. Like Camino, there is both indoor and outdoor seating. This coffee lounge can get filled pretty quickly, depending on what time you go. My friends and I had classes in the Brookstown area, so after class, some of them would come here to grab a snack or study some more. One of the things they and the friends that recommended this place raved about were their unique popsicle flavors including: cookies ‘n cream, Thai iced tea, sweet tea ‘n lemonade, chocolate sea salt, and more!

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Atelier Bakery on Trade Street

Atelier Bakery is a French bakery in the downtown area. Unfortunately, due to its hours and my crazy work schedule, I was only able to make it there one time. Even so, I was impressed with what it had to offer. The interior was nicely-decorated, with bigger tables to study at and their pastries were good. When I went with my friend, we split a French churro, which was a croissant that had the consistency of a churro, and a pain au chocolat, something that I haven’t eaten since my time in France. Sadly, the hours of the bakery have changed since I’ve last been there. They are now only open on Saturdays from 8 a.m. until they sell out. Though it may be inconvenient, if you are looking to try something new in the Winston-Salem area and are disciplined enough to get up early in the morning to study, I would recommend checking this place out.

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Tart Sweets, located in the historic Rosenbacher home

I was sad that I didn’t get to experience Tart Sweets until my last semester at Wake Forest University because it was, by far, my favorite place, which was recommended by a good friend that came to study here frequently. It’s a locally owned bakery on Fifth Street that has such a beautiful and quaint atmosphere. I also thought the name was cute, considering the owner’s last name is Tart.

I’m not sure if this is because of what day I visited, the location, or the time of the year in general, but this place was a lot less crowded than Camino and Twin City Hive, and it was much quieter. There are two different areas where you can get work done, although I must admit that I spent a fair amount of time staring at the decor in awe. The pastries are a bit pricier here, but I would say that whether you try their assortment of macarons, a cheesecake cookie bar, or their edible cookie dough, it’s totally worth it. If you’re looking to study somewhere until later in the night, I would recommend going to Camino or Twin City Hive, as Tart Sweets is only open until 6 p.m. on weekdays.

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Rena Marie’s

Recently, I have really been into bubble tea. I had heard about it years ago online but never really knew what it was. I had only heard that it was really good. Thanks to its rising popularity in the U.S., I finally had the chance to try it two years ago when I was on vacation. Unfortunately, I did not know of any bubble tea places in my area, but I was happy to find out that there was one in Winston-Salem called Rena Marie’s.

The nice thing about this place is that there is also some space to study. The truth is, by the time I got around to visiting Rena Marie’s, I was already out of school, so I never got the opportunity to study here, but I would have liked to. There isn’t as much room as some of the other places that I had mentioned before, but you can enjoy some coffee or bubble tea while doing your work, whether you want to sit at one of the tables in the picture above, or sit by the window and admire the city.

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Forsyth County Public Library, located on West Fifth Street

I have a confession to make… I don’t like coffee at all. Despite this, that has never stopped me from going to cute coffee shops and ordering other drinks and snacks while studying, since I love the atmosphere. However, you may not like that kind of environment for getting work done. Maybe you prefer to study at the library, but your school’s library is always packed. The Forsyth County Public Library is a great alternative.

One of my close friends, who will be studying Library Science, visited me in Winston-Salem in October of last year. Because of her love of libraries, we found out about this one by talking to one of my school’s librarians. It had just been renovated and re-opened in August, so we got to see its new features right away. We explored the entire library, which had a nice, modern look to it. There was plenty of space to get work done and I can guarantee that no one would bother you there. Aside from that, they had a large selection of books that expanded multiple floors. Whether you need a break from studying and enjoy reading or you just want to find something new to read, I would strongly recommend visiting.

A little over a week ago, I returned to Pennsylvania. I was sad to leave Winston-Salem and North Carolina in general, but I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend a year there. It may look like I ate a lot during my time away, but all of this was spread out over the course of a year. I also wanted to add that most of these places did have wifi; I am only unsure about Atelier, Rena Marie’s, and the library, since I did not use my laptop at those places.

If you still aren’t convinced about studying or getting work done at these places, you can find more pictures below. Just click on them to make them bigger:

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Using the Weekend to Your Advantage: University and Grad School

There are two types of students that I come across: those that study all the time without taking breaks and those that wait until the last minute to do their assignments. It is very rare that I find someone who can balance both work and play. If I do meet someone who is balancing both, usually they are in the beginning stages of trying to find what works for them. I fall under the first category, and while I am still trying to work this out myself, I have gotten into a weekend routine that has been helpful in lightening up the workload for the week.

Some students may think that they cannot get homework done over the weekend because they want to spend it having fun and relaxing. Because of this, homework doesn’t get done until Sunday evening. For some, this is great as they work well under pressure. For others, the stress of Sunday night gets more familiar every week. There is a way to get homework and projects done over the weekend while still being able to enjoy your time off.

One of the strategies that I use that has helped me save time and stress is getting homework done when you know people won’t be looking to hang out. This can vary from person to person. In my experience, people don’t usually look to hang out on Friday afternoons. Some of my friends may be in class, be working, or be busy in general. Usually people prefer to do something on Friday nights, so you can get a head start on your assignments before the weekend has really begun, without having to sacrifice your Friday evening. Another prime time to get homework done, if you are an early riser like me, is Saturday morning. Many people I know have the ability to sleep in. Since I have trouble sleeping in, this is when I get most of my homework done, as well as laundry and other tasks. You can have a very productive day by lunchtime and still have most of the day to do what you please.

When I am doing homework, I try to get as much as I can done over the weekend. I still go out and have fun, so I am not missing out on anything, but I do this so that I can make my week a little bit easier. Usually I work on whatever homework assignment is due first, or whichever assignments are the shortest. Working in chronological order is helpful. Say that you have a busy weekend and you can only get homework done for Monday. On Sunday night (or Monday morning), you won’t be scrambling to get that homework done, provided you work on it ahead of time. Typically I try to get my homework done through Wednesday, so that I can have less of a workload during the first few days of the week. If you are afraid of forgetting what you had to read for class, take notes and read them closer to when you have class so that you can refresh your memory.

One last tip I have is to learn when to say “no.” I did write a blog post on this, so I won’t elaborate too much, but once in a while you find that you have too much work to do. It’s okay to say no if you need to. Sometimes it means saying no to doing something with your friends, other times it means saying no to doing homework and taking a short break. It isn’t always easy, but you will feel much better when you start learning how to balance your life.

What are your homework habits? Have you tried these strategies before and if so, have they worked out for you?

The Silver Lining in Missing Others

When I was in Maine just the other week, I really wanted to try a certain warm beverage. It sounded intriguing, the café sounded like my idea of the perfect afternoon hangout, and I would be able to relax for the first time in a few days. Literally every obstacle got in my way, preventing me from trying this drink, from people to weather. When I finally forced this dream to become a reality, I ended up disliking the drink and didn’t get to sit down for ten minutes before being called by my family to meet them somewhere else. Have you ever set out to accomplish your dream, but when you finally attained it, it wasn’t all you thought it would be, even if it was something as small as trying a hot beverage?

For the longest time, I wanted to leave the state of Pennsylvania to live elsewhere, especially a warmer area. This year, I am finally getting to live out my dream of living somewhere warmer for an extended period of time and the best part is, I don’t know anyone there! I have always loved meeting new people and connecting with them on a deeper level, which is my primary reason for studying languages. I was just as excited as the first time I moved away for college, and when I was getting ready to study abroad, but I was also just as sad to leave the ones I love behind.

Homesickness is completely natural to experience, especially when you have great memories tied to the place you are leaving. However, it was not my home I was missing, but rather the people and memories that went along with it. No matter how many times I’ve had to leave the area I grew up in for an extended period of time, I never fully got over missing the special people in my life.

The first couple of weeks are always the hardest. You have a lot of free time to yourself to think, since you don’t have the responsibilities of schoolwork to keep you distracted. You may be in the process of meeting new people, but things don’t tend to get easier until you have some established friendships. During this time, I thought a lot about everyone I had left behind. I am only going to be away for a year, and that year will fly by. I don’t want to spend it thinking of how much I miss everybody all the time. That’s when it hit me:

The reason why I’m feeling this way is because I have such special people in my life. If I didn’t have wonderful people surrounding me, I would not be experiencing such homesickness for them.

Finding a silver lining requires a change of thought. It’s all a matter of being grateful that you are so blessed to have these people in your life. Yes, missing others is totally okay and completely normal, but realize the ‘why‘ behind your feelings. You will be brought to a whole new level of comfort that will help you ease the pain of missing others.

Thank you to all the amazing people in my life that may be reading this! You have definitely left an impact.

Living in a Tourist Town

We are always on the move. After doing some research, I found that it is estimated that Americans will move about 10-11 times during their lifetime. Although I have not moved around much and have plenty of time to do so, I spoke with others who have. My parents have experienced living in many different kinds of places, from a small town in Pennsylvania, to huge well-known cities. Some of the places where they have lived for an extended period of time were tourist destinations such as New York City and Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

The cool thing about living in a tourist town is that you get to experience life as a local. When I went to school in Gettysburg, students divided everyone into three groups: college students, tourists, and “townies.” It didn’t take much time to figure out who was who when living there. Being there for a long time, students could see what Gettysburg had to offer, not just as a tourist destination but also locally. Had I only been a tourist in Gettysburg, I would have not known that there was a Hispanic community there that I could get involved with. I got to experience going to mass in Spanish, volunteer at a bilingual school, and go to a yearly event called “Salsa on the Square.”

However, life and work creeps up on us, consuming our time so much that we sometimes forget to do the touristy activities before it’s time to pack up and move again. One piece of advice my parents have given me, as well as others, was to do everything while you can. In the case of when I studied in Madrid, I knew my time was limited to three months, so I knew how much time I had to visit every museum and sight I wanted to go to. Most of the time, when people move, they don’t know how long they will be staying in a given place. It can vary depending on the type of job and of course, life being unpredictable.

I never did get to go on any ghost tours when I was in Gettysburg, but I did get to see the battlefields and had two very knowledgeable friends give me a tour. I got to know which ice cream places were popular with locals and which ones were tourist traps. I got to know some of the locals through frequenting restaurants in different places where I have studied. I had four years to see and do everything that I wanted to, so I could spread things out. However, I wish that I would have done and discovered some things earlier, because I would have done them more often, such as riding around the battlefield in a scoot coupe with my roommates.

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If you are thinking about or already living in a tourist town, take advantage of the things to do. Maybe you already have, and that’s great! Maybe you haven’t yet because you don’t want to be associated with tourists or you just haven’t found the time yet. Take advantage before it’s too late! Explore, discover, and share with others! You never know what you may find.

The Best Four Years

Yesterday, my sister graduated from high school. It was an exciting and special moment to share with her, and also a little bit nostalgic. Pretty soon she’ll be off to college and be making more memories that will last a lifetime.

Some people say that college is the best four years of your life, and to an extent, they were right. They were the best four years of my life… so far. However, I don’t want my best four years to be so early on in my life that everything goes downhill after that. I hope that I have even better moments as life goes on and that I could have even more “best years of my life.”

Where does that mentality about college come from anyway? Why do people speak of the “glory days” when referring to the past? Shouldn’t we be striving to make every day a little bit better than the last, rather than glorifying something we will never again experience?

As she moves onto college, learns more about herself, and works to become the best person she can be, I hope that she’ll enjoy every moment. I hope that she can look back at her four years of school and say that they were good, maybe even the best for the moment, but that she’ll see the bright future ahead of her and go forth with a positive outlook on it.

As for me, I am still a little bit sad that four years of school went by so quickly, but I am thankful for all that I experienced and for the people in my life that I met because of going to college where I did. I may never see some of them again, but I will forever cherish those memories and continue to live life making new ones.

Live Without Regrets

My dad has used the line: Live your life in such a way that you will have no regrets at the end. The reason he says that is because at the age of 10, he lost his father to a sudden heart attack, at age 11 he lost his home and every earthly possession to a major flood, and at the age of 12 his favorite baseball player was killed in a tragic airplane accident. He learned early on that things don’t last and that you never know what tomorrow will bring. He said that if you want to do something, do it; if you want to say something, say it. You don’t want to get to the end of your life and say, “I wish I would have…” or “I wish I wouldn’t have…”

I just finished my senior year of college. With that comes a flood of questions, but there is one that I have been dwelling on, even before I graduated: How do you feel? 

Just like any other life-changing situation I’ve gone through, I felt and am feeling a lot of things. However, not one of them is regret. I made sure to make the most of my time at Gettysburg during my four years there. I did almost everything and visited every restaurant that I wanted to, leaving me satisfied. Most of all, I made memories that I will never forget.

This past school year, my introverted side took over more than ever and I know that part of that was due to reverse culture shock. During the two semesters, I constantly battled with wanting to have alone time because of being drained from work, but also wanting to make sure that I was spending time with those who were special to me before potentially never seeing any of them again.

Despite having the mentality of wanting to spend time with others, there were times where saying “no” was necessary for the sake of being able to rest. There were also times where I needed to put my work aside for an hour, after working on it for many hours, to spend time with my friends. In the end, I wasn’t left wishing that I had spent more time with people. Life is all about balance and balance prevents regret.

So how do I feel after all is said and done? I am still swimming in a sea of feelings, but making the most of my time at school has helped me feel ready to move on overall. No matter what stage of life you are in, if you just finished high school, just finished college, or if you are finishing a completely different chapter of life, make the most of it because you never know what will come next.

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Your Grade Isn’t Always a Product of Your Work

During finals week at colleges across the country, libraries are filled with students, empty classrooms are occupied after class hours, and (what seems like) the zombie apocalypse is beginning. The number of breakdowns and stressed-out, tired students that I had seen this semester was astonishing, and quite disheartening. Why do people let themselves get to this point in the first place?

I love learning. If I could be a permanent student without debt, I would be, or so I thought. This past year, the joy I got out of learning about new topics was overcome by the obsession to feel accomplished based on my grades. Many seniors I talked to this year, as well as myself, were upset that we were spending our last year of college worrying about our grades, instead of spending time with our friends and making memories before graduating.

After realizing that there is a such thing as over-studying, I realized that resting was very important. There has to be a balance. I formed a certain attitude when it came to studying for tests: If I studied as much as I could without overdoing it, and I didn’t do well, then I genuinely tried my best and could feel okay about it, even if I was disappointed at first. If I didn’t put any effort into studying for an exam and didn’t do well, then I had no one to blame but myself.

The truth is, you can put all of the effort you physically, mentally, and emotionally can possibly put into an assignment, and sometimes it just won’t pay off. Sometimes you get a teacher that doesn’t agree with you or doesn’t appreciate the way you write a paper, but the kid that wrote the paper half an hour before class got a better grade. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t a good student. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to work harder. It means that you didn’t live up to that professor’s standards, whatever they may be, and that isn’t always a bad thing. Maybe your grade doesn’t reflect all the work that you put into the assignment, but you did your best, and that is what matters.