The one unexpected place in Singapore you never thought you could study at

August 29, 2017

Exam season is coming. Every Singaporean child knows what that means – overcrowded libraries, a bed that looks extra inviting all of a sudden, and distractions a plenty in the home. If you feel like you need to get out of the house and enjoy a change of scenery, there is one surprising place where you can buckle down and get a few hours of productive mugging in: Food courts.

You may want to wipe that disbelieving look off your face, as Food Republic proved rather conducive for this author – at least for a few hours in the day. After a lunch meeting in town, I had to pass a few hours before a dinner appointment on the same day. Not keen on wasting my time away, I shuttled between the various coffee joints in town, becoming increasingly dismayed as I found them packed with customers. On a whim, I walked up to the food court at Wisma, to find it almost completely empty at 2 pm. Needless to say, I was delighted. There was air-conditioning, large tables (the cleanliness of which could be ensured with the simple swipe of wet tissue paper), and little noise. Sitting by the windows afforded me crisp sunlight, though I remember the entire space to be well lit, so wherever you choose to sit should not be a problem.

I left around 5.30pm; the place was filling up and I had to go anyway. It was almost 4 hours of productive, uninterrupted studying, with kopi from the drinks stall to fuel me along. I had unearthed a little-known gem, plus saved money on expensive cafe coffee. Score!

The next time I was in town, I figured, why not try another Food Republic outlet? Instead of Wisma, I walked to Shaw Centre’s Food Republic. It was seemed bigger, with more nooks and crannies, and with lesser patrons. I think I received a few questioning stares, but really, nothing could dampen my gleefulness for I had uncovered yet another study location with air-conditioning and little noise, and affordable food and drinks. If you really want to be miserly, you could bring snacks and drinks from home, and stay there for FREE.

Another food court I studied at previously was the food court found at Fusionopolis. After the lunch period, stalls roll down their shutters, for they do not get much of a dinner crowd. When feeling peckish, I headed to the nearby Cold Storage to grab some snacks. That day, I stayed well into the night and got a massive amount of work done. It was great, and I saved more than if I had headed to the Starbucks outlet above as I had initially planned to do.

Word of caution

As mentioned, some of my study sessions were held between lunch and dinner, so I managed to avoid the mealtime crowds. I do not advocate hogging seats at meal times – Singaporeans on the prowl for seats are hungrier for food than you are hungry for knowledge, and will glare at you to make a point. In addition, my visits were on weekdays – my university schedule affords me weekday afternoons off – and studying at these locations has not been tried out on weekends. I highly doubt shopping mall food courts are as clear of people on the weekends, even if you were to head there mid afternoon. The location of the food court matters, as does the time of your visit. There are many food courts that enjoy the patronage of massive groups of hungry customers at every hour of the day,

In addition, my visits were on weekdays – my university schedule affords me weekday afternoons off – and I have not tested out studying at these locations on weekends. I highly doubt shopping mall food courts are as clear of people on the weekends, even if you were to head there mid afternoon.

The location of the food court matters, as does the time of your visit. There are food courts that enjoy the patronage of massive groups of hungry customers every hour of the day, such as Food Opera at ION Orchard, or the food court in Ngee Ann City.

Where will you go next?

With this idea planted in your mind, where will you try next? Which food court do you know to be really quiet mid afternoon, that you have never thought to bring your books to? Or have you decided that you are still a Starbucks person?

Whatever your preference, be sure to choose a place that works for you. All the best this mugging season!