Adventure Studying: What It Is, How to Get Started

By Jean Fan

One of my favorite blogs is Cal Newport’s Study Hacks, where he writes about improving the way you learn. In his Romantic Scholar Series, Newport writes about adventure studying — finding novel places to do your work.

It works. Last year, before AP Exams, I realized that studying at the library was actually extremely counterproductive. Because of the reliable (and really distracting) wifi, working at the library or even at the local cafe was no different than working from home. Most of the time I would give up studying, and instead watch videos of Demetri Martin (over and over…).

When I studied on a bench at the hiking trail next to my house, however, I was extremely productive. Before me stretched an incredible view of the San Francisco Bay. There was no internet to distract me. I made it a point to leave my phone at home. Each adventure studying session felt like a mini-field trip. It restored the awe I used to have when I was learning something new (or studying something I already knew).

Since then, I’ve made it a point to scout out new places to study each month. Here are some places that I’ve studied at recently, armed with only a pad of paper and a pen:

The San Francisco Modern Museum of Art

Surrounded by abstract art, it’s hard not to be inspired. You can pay $11 to go inside,  enjoy the view and work on homework, or you can do as I did: go on the first Tuesday of the month and it’s free.

Samovar Tea Lounge

This place is expensive. It was my well-deserved indulgence: I treated myself here after a month of hardcore AP exam studying. But the tea’s awesome, the service impeccable, and the view spectacular.

Ing Cafe

Part bank, part cafe, this study space looks like a modern loft and comes equipped with plenty of espressos, a friendly staff, and scores of professionals looking for a better place to host their meetings.



More adventures? Check out Jean’s blog at