I suspect you can guess which one I chose. :P
May Island in Gangnam has been on my list of cafes to visit for quite a while and I figured it would be as good a day as any to head on over and finally check it out. I'd seen pictures of it before on the internet where it was touted as a "study cafe" and my curiousity was definitely piqued. My mind was ablaze with all sorts of questions... How do study cafes work? Do they play background music, or is it completely silent? Can you study in groups? Are you allowed to talk? How long can you sit there before you get booted out?
Well good sons, the answers to those questions were soon revealed.
May Island takes up the 4th and 5th floors of a building very close to Gangnam Station.
After entering, take the lift up to the 4th floor and order your drink at the counter.
The rule is one drink per person, and one drink buys you 5 hours of cafe time. Drinks are kind of pricey and start from 6,500 won, which is a fair bit more than you'd slosh out for your average cup of joe in Korea (even at overpriced chains like Starbucks). But I suppose when you consider the fact that you're essentially hogging a table for 5 hours in an environment where you can actually concentrate and be productive, it seems fair enough.
Keep your receipt with you as proof of the time you entered. If you're planning to stay more than 5 hours, or you want another drink, bring your receipt to the counter and you can get up to 50% off your next order.
On the 4th floor are also group study rooms, which you can rent out per hour. If you're studying solo though, take the stairs up to the 5th floor and let the cramming magic begin.
1 drink per person, free wifi, free books on the shelves to read, no talking!
Okay, I'm not going to lie. When I first entered the room, I felt slightly creeped out. It was completely silent, except for the occasional sound of someone clearing their throat or chair legs being scraped across the floor. It was so quiet that you could even hear pages being turned from across the room. The silence seemed to hang in the air with an eerie heaviness. It brought back garish memories of being at uni and cramming for exams in the library... except this place had better lighting and much cooler furniture.
You can see some funky airplane-inspired seats along the left wall. I wasn't bold enough to take any proper pictures of them though as they were all occupied. ^^;;
Airplane seats! (Image is courtesy of their website: mayisland.com)
Originally I had planned to just sit and read on my Kindle in a leisurely manner, but most people there seemed to actually be working really hard. Some were furiously typing up documents on their laptops, others were studying from textbooks as fat as phone directories, and here I was dawdling along, reading a trashy fiction novel. I suddenly felt grossly inappropriate. Fortunately, I had some typed up lesson plans in my bag so I fished them out and laid them on the desk in an attempt to look like I was being somewhat productive. Hah!
It got me thinking though.. Even though you could just as easily drink coffee or tea and study at home for free, there's something about being in a room with a bunch of other people who are all doing work that makes you want to do work too. Is there a name for that? 'Collective productivity effect', perhaps? o__O
Well, whatever it is, it works and I can see now why people readily fork out money to study somewhere outside of home. Perhaps I'll go back there with my Korean textbook and actually get some studying done for once!
May Island, Gangnam
Hours: 9am - 11pm Mon - Sat, 9am - 10pm Sundays
Address: 서울시 강남구 역삼동 816-6 (816-6 Yeoksam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul)
Directions: From Gangnam Station exit 11, take the first right and then the first left. Continue down the road a few more metres and May Island will be on your left.
For anyone interested, there's also another branch of May Island close to exit 2 of Apgujeong Station on line number 3. Check out their website for details. :)