As someone who goes to university close to home, I am not living in the dorms. Actually, in Quebec, it’s common practice for university students to live in apartments off-campus. You know what that means? That means that we have to find other ways to get ourselves on campus. Whether it is on foot, by car, by public transportation or by bike, most college students here have to commute.
I’ve been taking the bus to get to school for over 8 years. Right now, to get to university, it takes me about 25 minutes, which means that by the end of the day, I’ll have wasted at least an hour every day on public transportation. As time flew, I’ve discovered a few tips to make commuting suck less and to actually enjoy my time on the bus.
Find something to do!
One of the things that help me survive my commute is to keep myself busy. That way, I don’t see time pass! There are a few things you can do to keep yourself occupied.
Listen to some music
My favorite way to spend my time while I’m commuting is listening to some music. It’s the best way to help me unwind and get some “me” time. I don’t need to think about university or life, I just get lost in the music. Sometimes I’ll prepare a playlist and have that play while I’m hitting public transportation, but most of the time I just have my iPod on shuffle and listen to what comes along. Lately, I’ve been loving Nick Jonas’s Last Year Was Complicated album (especially Voodoo, Bacon, and Under You) and Shawn Mendes’s songs Treat You Better and Mercy.
Read a book
It’s common knowledge now that I’m a bookworm. With my crazy schedule, I don’t always get as much time to read as I wish I had. So I’m making the best out of my commute by always carrying a book in my backpack! Sometimes it can get heavy though, so I love having my Kobo Glo on hand. I can just download a couple of books from home, and then I’m ready to get lost in another world. Reading is another great way for me to relax and think about something else for a while. If you need any reading recommendations, make sure you check our book club category!
Learn a new language
I have a whole post with tips to help you learn a new language, but one way of doing it is by playing with some language apps on your phone or tablet while you’re on the bus. Why waste your time when you can learn some new vocabulary and grammar rules in a language that is not your own?
Know your route ahead of time
One thing that can be stressful when you’re commuting is to not know where you’re going. To help release some of the stress, get accustomed to the route you’ll be taking ahead of time, especially at the beginning. As the year goes, you’ll get familiar with it, but start off on the right foot by knowing where you’re headed. If you’re taking the bus, try to see if there’s a map of the path it’s going to be taking. If you’re walking or biking, practice it a few times and see how long it takes you to get from point A to your destination. If you’re driving, I suggest trying it out a few times if you can. Otherwise, map out your route on Google Maps or on your GPS (I suggest doing both). Check out if there’s any construction site or traffic perturbations. This will leave you more confident, and, that way, you won’t have to stress about it.
Leave early… and arrive early
Have you ever rushed out of your house at the last minute, almost running to your bus stop because you were afraid you were going to miss the bus and get late? No? Just me? Well, trust me when I say that’s not pleasant AT ALL. There’s nothing I hate more than being late, so I always make sure to arrive everywhere I need to go at least 15 minutes early. That way, I can stop worrying about missing the beginning of the class or getting late at work. I can get on campus a bit early, go to class, and settle before the lecture starts. But to be able to achieve that, you have to leave a little bit early. Sure, that might mean that I lose 15 minutes of sleep in the morning, but at least I won’t be rushing out the door and stress before my day has even started. Knowing your route and your schedule ahead of time will help you stay sane and will save you precious time.
Dress according to the weather
Commuting means you have to dress smart. Sure, we all want our outfits to be cute, but there is nothing worse than wearing uncomfortable clothes or getting unexpectedly caught in the rain (#beentheredonethat). If you’re going to be walking or taking public transportation, not wearing the right clothes for the outside weather can be an absolute nightmare. Wear clothes that are warm enough but that won’t leave you dying of heatstroke, and make sure you wear comfortable shoes! Bring a change of clothes if you need to. I never leave the house before having checked the weather forecast for the day! That way I can always know what kind of clothes I need to wear and whether I need to bring an umbrella or not.
Keep the things you need on hand
The best tip I could give you when it comes to surviving public transportation is: be ready. Have your money/bus card on hand. There’s nothing worse than not being ready when the bus pulls up! What I like to do is leaving the house with my keys and my bus card in my hands. That way, I won’t have to worry about it if the bus arrives early and I don’t have time to prepare!
Make sure you have everything for the day before you leave
What sucks about being a commuter is that going back home takes a while. If you forget something, you cannot just run back to your dorm to get it. There’s nothing worst than getting to class only to realize that you forgot to bring your notebook or your textbook (I still forget to bring the novel we’re reading for my Creative Writing class every Thursday… I don’t think I’ve had it with me for one class this semester!) To prevent that, I try to make sure I have everything I need for the day in my bag before I leave. I have a few backpack essentials that I always carry around in my bag, and I also make sure I have my class material ready before I head to university. If you tend to have crazy hectic mornings, prepare your things the night before! That way, you won’t have to worry about it too much the next day.
Stay aware of your surroundings
No matter how you commute, that tip is super important. While you want to stay busy, you do not want to get so caught up in technology or the book you’re reading that you do not know where you are anymore. If something or someone is making you feel uneasy, ALWAYS trust that instinct. Remove yourself from that situation and do not be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
If you’re traveling on foot or using public transportation, you might want to travel light. That means that you want to bring only what’s necessary with you. Having to carry 300 heavy bags is NOT fun, trust me. Not only is it a pain in the ass, but it’s also really difficult. You might not have a place to sit on the bus, meaning you’ll have to carry those bags all the way to your campus. Trust me, it’s not fun.
That’s the #1 rule for any user of public transportation. Be nice to your driver, and offer older people, pregnant women, and kids to take your seat if there’s nothing else available. Being polite will help ensure you have the best experience possible!
What about you? Are you a commuter? What are your tips to survive your commute?