Third places and my love for coffee shops


This is the first of the new Pop the Bubble series of “third place” reviews. We were inspired by the idea that people tend to establish social settings that are separate from their home and work (or school) and how this idea fits into civic engagement, so we’ll be exploring different third spaces around Hamilton over the course of the year.

I’m one of those people who just can’t work in her room.  No matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to have the same productivity when I’m  so close to my wonderfully cozy bed. So I go elsewhere. If I’m feeling like I don’t want to go out, that often means my kitchen table. There are other times, though , when I just need to be out of my house. Don’t get me wrong–my roommates are great. But when I’ve got  piles of readings and a few thousand words to write, spending time with them just won’ t cut it.

My solution? Coffee shops.

I know the more straightforward solution would be to  just go to the library like most other university students. But something about the atmosphere there also doesn’t always appeal to me. Especially around exam times, there’s an aura of stress emanating from Mills, Thode, and HealthSci.

So I venture instead to a coffee shop, to get my fix both of caffeine and of good vibes.

My current destination of choice is My Dog  Joe, found at the corner of King and Paisley, located mere minutes from campus and from most student housing.

It’s not a very big place–it can definitely fill up quickly at peak hours. But what it lacks it size it makes up for in coziness.  It has a rustic charm that  Starbucks could only dream of. The screen door of the entrance immediately sets the tone; rather than a business, it feels more like someone’s home , albeit with a rather eclectic collection of tables, chairs, and well-loved couches.

You can tell that My Dog Joe is popular among  Westdale natives, as well as students.  On a Sunday afternoon, there are a couple students, studying away like me, but also couples  out for coffee, friends catching up, and a woman reading the newspaper and getting out of the rain.

It’s nearly impossible for me be there for any length of time without seeing someone I know. Just think–if that happens in a library, you say a whispered hello and stow away in your respective study carrels.  If it happens in a coffee shop, you can put your textbook down and take a quick break.

And of course, the coffee  is pretty darn good too. That’s definitely a bonus when looking for a place  to study. And you can feel good because the coffee shop prides itself on having organic food and fair-trade coffee.

So if you too are tired of the monotony of campus libraries and need a place to go, keep this in mind.

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