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Tanja Schmolze, Guest article
When I was a student I had to work regularly in the library. Unfortunately, I often had problems concentrating, because it was often not quiet enough. Many noises accumulated: a neighbour was typing on his laptop, another one was leafing through books, two were whispering nearby, someone was constantly walking up and down the stairs, etc. So I asked myself what I could do about it and noticed that many people in the library used earplugs. There was also a vending machine with earplugs at the library’s entrance, so this seemed to be common. One pair cost €2. So I decided to try them. And? It has paid off, because the earplugs suppress most of the noise, but not all of it.
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So far I only went to the library when I really needed to (research, paper writing). However, I was studying at home because of the noise in the library. Since I started using earplugs, I can also study in the library and I am more efficient and focused than at home. However, there are still disadvantages to the earplugs: I had to insert them more often to find the perfect position (i.e. to position them so that I no longer hear any noise). They were not very hygienic, but buying new ones every day was out of the question (a five-day week would have cost 10€ just for this). It would also have produced a lot of garbage, because the earplugs were packed in plastic boxes. Since then I have also been using earplugs on longer journeys, for example on trains and buses, when I want to sleep.