There’s been a post going around Facebook where a Singaporean student was kicked out of a Starbucks because of the reputation students have earned of overstaying their welcome in cafes. Some netizens felt for the student, but more, mainly adults and working citizens, called the girl out for being an “entitled, over-caffeinated brat.”
Full disclosure: I used to be one of those students who would buy one drink at Starbucks and stay for a couple of hours, studying. If I got hungry, sometimes I’d get a pastry or a sandwich. Most of the time I didn’t.
I’ve also been guilty of leaving my things at a table or seat to reserve a spot for me and my roommate before leaving to grab a quick and relatively cheaper meal at a neighboring establishment. In my defense, I was a broke college dormer.
Why couldn’t I just study in a library or in my dorm room, you might ask. In my case, my dorm was a good 20-minute walk away from the campus library. Meanwhile, there was a Starbucks five minutes away from our dorm. Between those two, I’d rather study at the cafe a street away from me.
The university library also closed by 9 p.m. while Starbucks stayed open until 1 a.m. Most college students do most of their studying at night. We didn’t like studying in our dorm room either because the presence of a bed made us sleepy and distracted. Not to mention that the internet connection in the cafe was better than our dorms, thank goodness for their contract with a certain telecommunications company.
Also, the atmosphere and the vibe of Starbucks or other cafes actually give students that illusion of leisure which allows them to relax, which in turn, helps them think better.
Still, the argument of the people complaining about students who choose to make cafes their study halls is valid. It is unfair that these students are hogging tables, turning off other customers that would bring more income for the cafe.
But, then again, some would argue that isn’t this the spirit of a cafe? People ordering one drink and staying there for an indefinite period of time to talk. I know of a certain restaurant owner who marveled at Vietnam’s cafe culture, where people would basically just order one cup of coffee and stay at a table for hours just catching up with a friend. The only difference, this time, are students studying instead of happily chatting with some friends.
It really isn’t a black and white matter.
I think the best answer to this problem is going to one of those new co-working spaces that are popping up right now, cafe set-up establishments that actually cater to students or freelance workers. But for those who can’t afford them or don’t have one near them, I guess the best compromise would be for students to develop a sort of etiquette when staying in these cafes for a lengthy study session. Here are some for you:
1. Don’t leave your things to reserve seats. It was a douche move in libraries, it’s still a douche move in cafes.
2. Buy more than just one drink if you’re going to stay for more than two hours. Let’s level the playing field on this, okay? If two friends were to meet-up to catch up in a cafe, they would most likely stay for just a couple of hours while nursing their one cup of joe. To be fair, remember and respect that the cafes you’re staying at are a business that has to make money. Kindly provide that. If you can’t, then maybe it’s best to go home and develop some self-discipline.
3. If you’re going to leave for dinner, bring your stuff with you and just come back to the cafe after. You might lose your spot, but fair is fair.
4. Be sensitive to your surroundings. If you notice that the cafe is full and you’ve been there for quite some time, let other people have their turn.
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