The Daily Gamecock

Where to be alone on a busy campus

Going to school with more than 30,000 other students definitely has its benefits — such as friends to share any interest and large university resources for every type of research project — but the constant interactions can be taxing.

Luckily, USC is full of hidden, quiet spaces for reading, thinking and generally being alone. Interrogate your friends long enough and you’ll probably find that they have their own places like this, but are reluctant to disclose the locations for fear of their hideouts being overrun and therefore ruined.If you don’t have your own yet, here are five of the best spots on and around campus to escape when you’ve had too much of other people.

The Roof of the School of Music

This might sound too good to be true, but as of Sept. 14, it’s not: the door leading to the roof of USC’s music building is left unlocked. It’s also very accessible — all you have to do is go up the main staircase until you can’t anymore. This is an especially nice getaway area at night; the sky is visible, and you can’t easily be seen from the other side of Assembly Street. Just remember to prop open the door, because it locks from the inside.

Park Behind Patterson Hall

On the corner of Pickens Street and Blossom Street, right behind Patterson’s garden level, is a small, endearingly dank quasi-park that seems to have been forgotten about around the time this newspaper was founded. Even during rush hour, sitting on one of the park’s crumbling benches feels like sitting alone in a forest in the middle of the night, your only company the duck family that has evolved to live in the dark, cloudy pond that serves as a focal point. There’s no better part of campus for being (and feeling) alone.

Hut in the South Carolina State Museum Parking Lot

Another place that probably should be locked, the inexplicable hut in the parking lot of the State Museum is exactly what it sounds like. Made out of something resembling straw, the hut sits hidden in the corner nearest the State Museum, built almost into the side of a hill. The hut is circular, and a small gate sits open over the large hole that serves as a door. The inside is usually muggy but would be a great place to read a book or listen to music to recover from a long day.

Vista Greenway Railroad Tunnel

The Vista Greenway — a nine-mile trail that is being built on the site of a former railroad – is not yet finished, but this yet-undiscovered tunnel from Lady Street to Finlay Park is complete and walking through it is a surprisingly dramatic experience. Grab a warm drink at Starbucks on Gervais before your 400-foot trek no matter the season because the temperature drops in the concrete underpass. For a fun twist, make a loud noise and listen to the frantic, echo of pigeons scattering above you.

Upstairs Audio

At first glance, Upstairs Audio is simply an independent store for professional video and audio equipment. The store was founded by Joe Azar, then a college student, in 1972, and is located across from Starbucks in Five Points. Azar doesn’t have much to offer somebody on a student budget in the way of products to take home, but in terms of relaxing experiences, Azar’s shop is a gem. Burn your favorite album onto a CD, bring it into Upstairs Audio and Azar will let you sit alone on the couch in a soundproof room in front of one of his giant speakers (which he often likens to luxury cars) and listen to the music in more detail than you’ve ever heard. If you can’t decide on an album, stop by Papa Jazz Records down the street and find something new.