Lonely nights and quiet halls for the ‘all-nighter society’

While the rest of campus sleeps or parties, some students hole up to study or work.

Economics major Victor Llapa works during a late-night study session Monday at Moose Tower.

Joe Michaud-Scorza

Economics major Victor Llapa works during a late-night study session Monday at Moose Tower.

 

It was 4 a.m. Sunday.

Long after U2 melodies and the buzz of weekend bar-goers had faded in Stadium Village, Eyob Weyu sat alone in Moos Tower, hunched over a calculus textbook and a large cup of coffee.

While many of his University of Minnesota classmates braved large crowds in Dinkytown and Stadium Village on Saturday night, Weyu was putting up his own fight to get through another all-nighter in Moos Tower.

He and others do it nearly every night.

âÄúAfter college, many people will look back and wish they couldâÄôve done better,âÄù said the pre-medical junior, who eventually left Moos Tower at 8 a.m. âÄúI really want to do well so IâÄôm willing to sacrifice everything.âÄù

One of the last to leave nearly every morning, he is often physically alone in the building. But his sacrifices âÄî sleep, social life and time with his family âÄî are not rare.

That morning, economics senior Victor Llapa sat at a table feet away facing Weyu. The sun was not yet up.

âÄúA lot of students do this,âÄù Llapa said at 5 a.m. âÄúPersonally, I donâÄôt have a choice.âÄù

Llapa, who keeps a schedule of three or four overnight study sessions per week, and Weyu have developed a bond over their similar study habits. They wake each other up from naps and let one another back in the building after it closes.

ItâÄôs part of what Llapa calls the Moos Tower âÄúall-nighter society.âÄù

âÄòThatâÄôs collegeâÄô

Weyu said his summer schedule feels natural. After the sun has fallen in Minneapolis, itâÄôs daytime in his native Ethiopia, he said.

He sleeps just four to five hours each day, often in his car between studying sessions and classes.

But these late night habits stem from more than time zones.

He stays up all night before going to class from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. because he simply canâÄôt fall asleep without completing all of his work.

âÄúI guess IâÄôve always been this way,âÄù he said.

Llapa agreed, adding that the dozens of students he has encountered late at night share that trait.

âÄúIt would really bother me to go to bed with work unfinished,âÄù he said.

Llapa, a self-professed âÄúnight personâÄù who works 40 hours each week and goes to school full time, said this is the only way he can manage his time. Spending Sunday, Monday and Thursday nights in Moos Tower is the only way to stay on top of his workload.

Fan Yang, a junior in the department of computer science and engineering, said she was surprised to hear people stay in University buildings so late after finals have passed âÄî especially on weekends.

Yang pulled one all-nighter as a freshman and said sheâÄôll never do it again. She always thought the root of all-nighters âÄî procrastination âÄî was something she avoids by working weekends and early mornings.

âÄúMost people stay late because they have to,âÄù Yang said. âÄúThatâÄôs college.âÄù

But Llapa insists it is more than obligation that keeps him coming back to Moos Tower regularly for overnight study sessions.

âÄúWe have a passion to learn,âÄù he said. âÄúI donâÄôt just want to get a good grade, I want to understand everything and take something away from this experience.âÄù

âÄòIt gets a little lonelyâÄô

Ricky Carlson has been a facilities worker at the University for 25 years.

He has spent 20 of those years in Keller Hall, which he said is a hot spot for overnight research and study groups.

âÄúIâÄôd imagine just about all students have spent the night in one of these buildings at one point or another,âÄù he said, pointing to a student doing research in a lab at about midnight Tuesday.

He said the peace and quiet that comes after 10 p.m. creates a productive atmosphere that draws many students.

Wenhao Liu is one of them. HeâÄôs in the process of transitioning from an early riser to a regular all-nighter, an effort to make time to study for the Graduate Record Examination this fall.

He said his favorite part is the solitude he feels knowing heâÄôs one of only a handful of people on campus.

âÄúIt gets a little lonely,âÄù he said at 1 a.m. as he was just getting started with his work. âÄúBut I like it that way. ItâÄôs not bad.âÄù

Hours before, Chad Lajiness sat in the same chair that Liu occupied in Keller.

He had a different take on all-nighters.

âÄúI quit learning after a certain point,âÄù he said. âÄúIf IâÄôm not done by midnight, I quit and try again later.âÄù

He left Keller Hall well before 10 p.m. Tuesday.

âÄòHome is a place for enjoymentâÄô

Jia Wen has never pulled an all-nighter.

The graduate student in the department of electrical and computer engineering said the key to working efficiently is sleep, and she gets plenty of it by going to bed on time and waking up early to complete her work.

She stays productive by taking the âÄúhomeâÄù out of homework.

âÄúI never study at home because home is a place for enjoyment,âÄù Wen said, âÄúnot for studying.âÄù

Many of WenâÄôs friends share her attitude of getting out of the house. They work in University buildings past 2 a.m. several nights each week, she said.

âÄúThese students arenâÄôt weird at all,âÄù Wen said. âÄúMaybe they just do this because they love it.âÄù

But she also said there is nothing she loves more than her health, a casualty for students in the âÄúall-nighter society.âÄù

Wen said her roommate is a prime example âÄî the regular late-night studier has sought medical advice for changes in her eating and mood patterns.

The balancing act

After more than two months, Weyu said his summer schedule has begun to catch up with him.

âÄúI feel tired all the time,âÄù he said.

Llapa, on the other hand, said he has found a way to organize his life so heâÄôs not forced to sacrifice too much in pursuit of future success.

âÄúItâÄôs all about balance,âÄù he said. âÄúI work hard during the semester, so once itâÄôs over I can enjoy myself.âÄù

At the end of the summer, he plans to organize two weeks of swimming, camping and drinking âÄî but not that much, he said. HeâÄôs already invited Weyu and a handful of the other late-night regulars who have shared his stress throughout the summer.

But WeyuâÄôs break will be short-lived. He already has his books for the fall semester, and he said he plans on getting a jump-start on the material before classes begin.

âÄúI donâÄôt want to disappoint my family,âÄù he said. âÄúThis is my first priority. There is nothing more enjoyable than doing well.âÄù