7 Perks of Being a College Commuter
As a college commuter who faces a daily two-hour commute by train, I know that commuting is plain old-fashioned exhausting and by turns boring (waiting half-an-hour for the next train) or stressful (running from my last class to the train station in under fifteen minutes). But sitting on the couch whining is just for losers. So I am pulling a Pollyana right now.
Although many of my classmates think that I am mentally challenged to have chosen to go to college by this ridiculously long commute, there are perks to not living the famous or infamous college-dorm lifestyle. Here are some of them:
1. You not only save money on rent, you spend less on miscellaneous shopping.
Living at home saves money on rent, everyone knows that. The thing that resident students may not realize is that living at home means less money spent on toiletries, clothes, and daily accessories. You can just use the same shampoo that your mom is using instead of buying another bottle, and you can wear the still perfectly-cute skirt that your sister doesn't fit into anymore, and so on.
2. You can daily enjoy nutritious, delicious home-cooked food.
Living at home means that you can cook low-salt, low-oil, meals full of vegetables and beans that keep your weight under control. Instead of eating the greasy, salty, processed food that is the cheapest and most convenient option for many dorm-bound classmates, you can have full control over what you are going to eat for lunch each day.
3. Being a commuter makes you learn to manage your time effectively.
Living at home keeps any Leona Lewis/X Factor/Yuzuru Hanyu addictions in check. Seriously. You cannot be binging into the wee hours of the night when you have to get up at an unearthly hour the next morning to catch the bus or drive to that devilish 8:00 a.m. class. There's also no cramming at the last minute for that paper which must be turned in by Friday 12:00 noon. You'll probably have had that paper finished, and printed, before 10:00 Friday morning, because that is when you have to be out the door.
4. Commuting keeps your college life and personal life comfortably separate.
Yes, your classmates are probably mostly really sweet people, but when you have just sparred with your group member about why he didn't hand in his part of the assignment, you know that you will punch him if you see him again too soon. Jumping on the home-bound train and knowing that the rogue dude is a two-hour train ride away keeps your bout of violent impulses tucked safely away in my aching soul. There's no escaping the guy if you lived in the dorms and was bound to bump into him whilst buying your dinner.
5. You meet a wider variety of people of different ages and walks of life.
Whether you use public transport or drive, your commute allows you to rub shoulders with many other people besides the cute lil' nineteen year old boy sitting behind you in class—you may meet anyone from car mechanics to musicians, and yes, sometimes your own professors going off to work. You see many other people commuting to work alongside you, and you know that you are sharing in the common experience of the wider world outside college. Sometimes you can strike up interesting conversations and meet new friends.
6. You get the very best, free, stunningly effective work-out five times a week.
Commuting means a lot of walking to and from bus or train stations, walking to your classroom from the parking lot, or standing for forty-five minutes in a crowded train cab. The daily exercise is simply built into your schedule, without your having to pay for it. In addition, walking for twenty minutes down a busy street is definitely more interesting, and feels less grueling, than jogging on the treadmill in a hot, stuffy gym.
7. You can maintain family relationships and childhood friends.
You don't have to miss out on the new cookie recipe that my sister has recently fallen in love with. In the afternoons you can help Mom with cleaning the house or accompany Dad to his doctor appointment. You get the best of both worlds—you can hang out with the sweet neighbor lady who loved you since you were ten, and then chill with your classmates when you go to school.
Commuting means some extra stress, extra frustration, and extra exhaustion. But if you like to stay connected to your childhood home and have some privacy, the advantages make the unpleasant times a bit more bearable.