If you’re a night owl and you have to share your living space with someone else, then you might be acquainted with Portland’s complete lack of late-night study options. If you live on campus with a roommate and you have different sleep and love schedules, or if they have distracting habits, such as painstakingly cutting their toenails into the toilet (oh no that one landed in the sink!), it might be hard to study, even with the aid of headphones.
Unfortunately, Portland State doesn’t offer any late-night spots to study, and with Portland’s reputation for eccentricity, I feel like good late-night study venues on campus might be a good investment. If you have reliable transportation and need to get out of wherever you are and get some solid study time in, there are a few options in the greater Portland area that are worth entertaining—but they are all, shall we say, less than optimal.
Portland’s only 24-hour coffee shop, Southeast Grind, might seem like the answer to your late-night, cram-before-exam prayers. It’s got fabric chairs and couches, small tables, a pretty solid cup of coffee, and a food menu that exists as more than an abstract idea.
It sounds like a paradise founded upon the backs of the Olympians! But, alas, those couches have been smashed down by hundreds, if not thousands, of Southeast Portlander posteriors and the soft scent emanating from the cloth might remind you of this fact the next time you park it to clock an eight-hour Tolstoy binge. Furthermore, even if you’ve had the foresight to bring a blanket or a towel to put on the chair, then you still have the late-night regulars giving you strange and uncomfortably persistent glances as they passive-aggressively wrestle with their tribal bead art. It’s that kind of vibe—with two-ish electricity plugs in the whole place.
If that doesn’t sound right for you, or you live more toward Southwest Portland, then you might make the choice to try one of the two Ava Rosteria cafe locations in Beaverton. Here you will be welcomed by the taste of acceptably concocted coffee, expensive pastries, food items, and many tables and chairs. Buy one cup and you have your ticket to an all-night study session, except on Friday and Saturday nights, when they have very loud live music performed by suburban dad types whom one can easily imagine love to volunteer as a chaperone for middle school dances. Other than that, find a table and bring a cushion so your legs don’t fall asleep on the “after more than an hour this is going to be uncomfortable” furniture.
If you are desperate than you can go to a bar. There you will likely buy a drink (thinking that you can still work after a single beer), have your drink, and then come to the conclusion that the assignment would be so easy to do that actually spending the time to do it would be a waste of your talents. Then, after a night spent explaining to everyone in the bar that you are trying to do your homework, you will likely have a cab called for you by some bartender who’s been trying to keep you away from the conservative nut-job who obviously feels that our nation’s economic policy should be debated much louder and in more venues than was previouly considered acceptable.
When push comes to shove, a park bench works for studying too. The only problem is that you might have to compete with someone who is actually experiencing homelessness. That’s embarrassing for everyone involved. No one feels good about it. You eye the bench, laptop in hand, they look at you, looking however they do, and then you go somewhere else. You just do. And you feel guilty for having stuff when they don’t, so you give them money. Rent money for your almost relatively-clean conscience.
By this time you might have exhausted your patience. That’s understandable. It’s easy enough in Portland to see a dancer perform on a stage without clothes on after midnight, because there is basically a different strip club on every block. There are a million bars and a thousand breweries with amazing beers that will serve you until the law says they can’t. There are multiple grocery stores in the Portland area that opened at one time and have never closed their doors since—you can shop at 3:27 a.m. if you really need to. But if you want to do anything besides grocery shopping or getting genitals waved in your face while working on a good buzz, then Portland provides very few opportunities for you to do much that is constructive if you’re not at home, working frantically in that part of the living space where you can huddle close to the wall and not disturb anyone.
Oh, and during finals week the library is open 24 hours, but everyone knows it and shows up by themselves with just enough stuff to take up an entire four-to-six person table, so that works out nicely for you if you are one of those people.