Pod is the most exclusive study space on campus

It only has room for one person

In February, The Tab described habitués of the Maughan’s round reading room — conventionally regarded as prime real estate during exam season —  as a “very select community”. Indeed, insiders I’ve spoken to say there’s only one way to break into this élite circle: arrive at the crack of dawn, grab a spot and, like a dog pissing to mark its territory, cover any claimed ground with whatever study paraphernalia you’ve brought. Laptops, textbooks, and coloured gel pens (don’t kid yourself, we all have them) will do.

Round reading room vs. Pod

In other words, a space in the round reading room can be earned. Not so with Pod. To score a place, you’ll need not only skill, but a lot of luck. Just to be in with a chance, you’ll need to arrive at about the time that morning counselling sessions held in Pod between Compass staff and students finish, but before the lunch rush hour. Pod entrance is competitive, though, so chances are that you’ll rock up only to find that the coveted space has been taken by a fellow Pod enthusiast. But don’t give up: even a slim chance of basking in the alien splendour of Pod is worth the many tries it might take.

Indeed, Pod is the great white whale of study spaces: exclusive, small (it seats only one), and serene. I’m sitting in Pod right now, and I feel like the inhabitant of some whopping mutant tulip. The vivid orange walls are aglow, and the ra-ha-ha of chortling students filing through crammed hallways, which would elsewhere drive me berserk, is dimmed to a distant and gentle throb by solid Pod walls. One feels curiously safe tucked away in Pod. I suspect that Freud might have had something to say about its comforting warmth — the infantile-regressive force it exerts, like a tidal pull, on the exhausted student psyche.

P to the O to the what?

Yet the benefits go beyond its strange colour and size: Pod features three light settings (Work, Think, and Present) and two ventilation settings (Hi and Lo). Avoid the “Work” setting — it’s bright as the sun, liable to scorch eyeballs, and gives Pod the ambience of an interrogation cell. “Hi”, meanwhile, will bring you fresh air only at the cost of teeth-rattling bone-jostling vibrations. Think and Lo is the best combination: these settings make studying in Pod feel like wallowing in some otherworldly giant humming flower. Unusual, for sure, but good.

And with that, my fellow Maughanauts, my message is simply this: Pod it while you can.