By Kathryn Cambrea, Editor in chief
Now that I am in my fourth semester as a college student who commutes to and from school, I feel that I can give a thorough account of how it is as well as debunk some notions about it.
My commute to school is roughly 20 minutes, and I absolutely love it. It gives me enough time to unwind, think about the day ahead, and of course, listen to music. Particularly, I love to sing along to music of the country and Christian genres on the way to school because it uplifts me. I even look forward to my commute as a time to almost talk to myself, especially if I am apprehensive about a test or presentation, and use the time to pray as well as verbally express the faith I have in myself.
Time management has always been one of my strengths, but I genuinely believe that being a commuter has allowed me to especially improve in this area. With the experience of driving to school each day through various weather and traffic conditions, I have become habituated to thinking ahead. As a result, I tend to leave early to give myself enough time to arrive to school with time to spare before my first class. Through having to cross three sets of train tracks on my commute, I can usually predict when the train arrives at each track and I know when to leave to minimize my chances of being stopped by any of the trains. At the same time, I have learned that as a commuter, there are inevitable obstacles, such as road closings and trains you cannot predict, which is why leaving early is a great option so that if you have to wait, you still have enough time to get to school.
As a commuter, there are days when it seems you just fly to school and all of the traffic lights are blessed to be green, making your commute smooth. And other days? Well, a light could be green just until you approach it. Or, your commute could be fine but then, a driver pulls the maneuver in which he/she quickly turns onto the street you are already driving on to get in front of you, but then, ironically, proceeds to slow down. These moments test your sanity as a commuter, and it is best to breathe and remain optimistic. A positive aspect of frequently being on the road is that you are exposed to multiple drivers, which in turn makes you a more defensive driver. Before college, I only drove in and around my town, so I truly believe that being a commuter has allowed me to improve as a driver and react in safe ways to dangerous drivers.
One myth about commuters that I would like to debunk is that we are the pariahs of the school. First of all, regardless of whether one is a resident or a commuter, we are all students nonetheless. Can a commuter make the mistake of going to class, leaving right after, going home, and not socializing? Absolutely. In a similar way, a resident can make the error of retreating to his/her dorm after class and never getting out. Therefore, “missing out” and lack of social interaction are not dependent on whether you are a resident or commuter. I have not let the fact that I am a commuter inhibit me from joining clubs, and I can testify that various club leaders are commuters. It may seem easy to want to return to your car or dorm after class, but I assure you that through getting involved, making friends, and attending events, you will enjoy spending time at the school, residents and commuters alike.
Another myth about commuters that I would like to debunk is that it is easier for us than it is for residents. Not necessarily. Although we may still live at home, which is comforting and familiar, there is still independence that comes with it, such as spending multiple hours at school, working, running errands, and advocating for yourself. We still have university-level course load as residents do. We have the privilege of conversing with our families in-person more often than residents, but on a long school day, we only do so in the morning and at night. On top of this, we also have to manage our schoolwork and other responsibilities, which can lessen family time as well as time to just relax. That is why the commute to and from school itself is so crucial; it is time when the commuter is alone and can just de-stress.
Being a commuter can be quite challenging at times, but it is undeniable that it has benefited me. Travelling on my own has allowed me to value being with just myself, and I have grown because of it. Even as a high school student, misconceptions that being a resident is better than being a commuter reverberated in my ears. No one type of student supersedes the other. Rather, every student has different preferences, experiences, and opportunities. Dorming may be better for some students, but not all, and the same principle applies to commuting. A resident may love dorming, and that is great because it may work for him or her. I love being a commuter because that is what is better for me.