Give Me A Break

by Brianna Kuplent and Merrick Parnell

Horizon Reporters

In college study areas, the scuffle of shoes is brief compared to the constant whispering, coughing, and a radio playing softly from someone’s computer. The swishes of the main doors are followed by students scurrying quickly out of classrooms, relieved to be free from class. This doesn’t disturb the studying students as they turn pages, click computer mice, and listen to songs through ear-buds.


“I just sit down here in the library because it’s usually quiet and people don’t bug you,” says Marina Lazaro-Lavin, 19. Her bag, a packed lunch, and laptop occupy a table downstairs below the library, blending well with other students who are either sitting and reading or looking at their laptops.

Many students at Whatcom face the dilemma of long periods between classes. Lazaro-Lavin said she has two-and-a-half hours between classes.

“Sometimes I hang out with friends,” she said. “I don’t like having that much time to sit around, so if I had more time I would take another class or be on Facebook.”

Ira Pradmore, 33, also utilizes the library for some study time.

“If I had time I would study,” said Pradmore, surrounded by a pre-calculus book and numerous papers. “I wouldn’t do anything fun.”

Upstairs in the Syre Student Center, Paige Lord, 21, sits with her Math 99 book and homework.

“I like to do my homework to get it out of the way,” she said. Although Lord sometimes goes off-campus to get lunch, usually she prefers to stay on campus.  “The college has a lot of resources, so I like to stay close to those resources in case I have a question,” she said.

The buildings at Whatcom are congested between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., and looking for a place to sit makes finding a parking spot look like a walk in the park. Veteran students have learned to search for study areas that will suit their needs when they have to study.

Randy Beck, 25, finds a comfortable spot at the Woods Coffee in Bakerview Square, a mere five-minute walk from campus.

“If you’re trying to get quiet places to study, this is better than Whatcom where it’s crowded,” said Beck. “With this, it’s a little less school and more relaxing. I like getting coffee here and I usually bring my lunch.”

A coffee cup is within reach and microbiology books are folded on top of each other. The Woods Coffee isn’t busy at this time and the sharp aroma of coffee beans ventilates from the whirring espresso machine behind the counter. Like other students, Beck spends most of his free time finishing homework.


In the Syre building downstairs, Jenna Keston, 19, and Renatta Richardson, 24, are relaxing at a table. Texting and chatting at the same time, they’re also waiting for their classes to start.

In Roe Studio, two students don’t have to look very far to find a friend. Working more with their ceramic artwork, cousins Kristina Pentsak and Taras Pavlyuk are relaxing at one of the tables.

“My ceramics class ends at 11:50 but my math class is at 4 this afternoon,” said Pavlyuk. “I go to the mall and go around in-between classes. It’s not fun just to hang out here and have nothing to do.”

“With my time I usually get food,” said Pentsak. “I go to Quizno’s quite a bit.”

“I go to the Five Guys Burgers on Bakerview,” said Pavlyuk with a smile. “Usually I just walk around and do nothing, kick it.”

Some students prefer to take advantage of the on-campus dining option such as the Dockside Café.

“I like their Italian baguette sandwich,” said Tyler Nigretto, a first-year student at Whatcom. Other students venture to the ground floor of Heiner to purchase Woods Coffee, sandwiches, wraps and bottled beverages. The Woods’ kiosk serves around 90 to 100 students a day, said server Wendy Friel.

Tandra Brant, who frequently visits the kiosk, purchases a Erin Baker Cookie before sitting down and reading in one of the many chairs located nearby.

The campus’s location also makes it easy to journey to many places off the grounds to get lunch or a snack, study or just be entertained.

“When I’m not eating on the campus, I would have to say my favorite places to go are Starbucks, Taco Time, or Subway,” said Taylor Watkins, a Running Start Student. Many students, such as nursing student Chuck Chapman, also enjoy walking to the Bellingham Food Co-op, which is a short jaunt away.

Some students venture to some of the local restaurants and cafés located close by. Westside Pizza is a popular choice among students. “It’s delicious and cheap,” said Blake Kinnear, who also occupies his free time by playing Dungeons and Dragons with friends on the balcony in Syre, a popular study location. Students fill their time watching movies and “Face-booking” on their laptops. The courtyard is also filled with students visiting, playing Frisbee, or participating in drum circles.

Adam Kim, 21, sitting in Laidlaw listening to his music player, sums up what most students do with their time. “I maybe meet some friends, sit down at the computer lab, or do homework,” he said. “Sometimes I like to eat at the cafeteria place or go down to Woods Coffee.”

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