Hi everyone! I can’t believe summer is already here (even though the past few days have been a bit rainy and muggy). I thought I would share my past academic year’s commuting experience with you all because next year I will be back to living on-campus!
To be honest, the first few days, and even weeks, were very tough. Because getting to the train station was a problem, my dad would drop me off on his way to work in the morning. This meant that even though my earliest classes were around 11 a.m., I had to wake up at 8 a.m. to be dropped off at the train station. In addition, the past few weeks NJ Transit has not been in its best shape with the derailments and power outages. As a result, there have been at least two or three days on which I was so ecstatic to be coming home on time, but the trains were delayed by a good 30 minutes to over an hour. I remember such an instance, specifically the Friday before winter break, when everyone at the New Brunswick station were carrying suitcases back to their homes. We were all covered in jackets and hats because it was quite windy and chilly. I was fervent to go home to a semi-relaxing break (I had midterms coming up after break as usual). The lady on the speaker came up, and I was hoping she would say in her monotonous voice “The next train to stop on track 4 is the 5:29 train to Trenton stopping at..” blah, blah, and blah. Unfortunately, she started to say the one thing all commuters feared the most: “The 5:29 train is now operating 65 minutes late.” My heart dropped. Everyone sighed. They opened their apps and starting tracking the train down. There were several times when the train would just “disappear”, which indicated that it would not hit all of its designated stops on the app. Nonetheless, I didn’t lose hope. After almost an hour and a half, the bright lights of the train nearing the curve of the track 4 (my track) was visible. I shouted to my friend “Look! It’s here” and I saw her eyes gleam with joy. I saw the happiness in everyone’s eyes. We were all just glad to be on our way home. I realized how peculiar it was that a train coming on time felt so precious and was capable of bringing so much happiness. I had never experienced this before in my life prior to commuting. This holds true to the platitude of being grateful for those little things you take for granted each day because you never know how much they mean to you until they are gone.
Another important thing I learned from commuting is time management. The days on which I was waiting for the bus (I took a bus home from the station after college) or the train, I was trying to make up the studying time I would lose to commuting. Whether it was just looking over organic chemistry notes or re-reading my essay, I would try to get some work done to save some time. Commuting took nearly three to fours hours out of my day every week, so these “in-between-studying” times were kind of important for me.
For those of you planning to commute or are commuting right now, here are some tips I would like to share with you.
- Be at least 10 minutes early before your planned train/bus time.
- Always carry work with you (notes, laptop, a book, etc…)
- Pack lots of snacks (you never can be 100% sure of when the train/bus will arrive or depart)!
- Double check for your tickets and headphones (especially your headphones because who doesn’t want to listen to songs while traveling?)
I hope you have a great summer!