A Guide for Commuters
A big decision to make when deciding between universities can be the choice of moving away or living at home. Often, it is said that living at home means you miss out on the university experience and that there is not much point in doing so as you are wasting the whole idea of what university should be. However, from my own experience and from views of others, I can assure you they are wrong and you should not rule out living from home for university! Here is why…
Living at home cuts out the living costs of moving out to university. When you move out, you have to pay bills, rent and for daily essentials such as food. When you live at home, this is all taken for granted. Yes, you may have to contribute to a small monthly payment to your parents for living at home, but this would be far less than what it would be whilst at uni.
You can still attend all of your university’s social activities
Being a commuter, you can still be a part of the university community. There is nothing stopping you from joining societies, making friends, joining committees and being an active university member. Yes, it may mean you have to adjust your travel times, but is that really too much of an issue?
Additionally, some universities have commuter-only activities which is also helpful to be aware of. (For example, this Commuter Awareness Week, our Students’ Union is holding activities, from food classes to film club! Check it out here!)
It isn’t just about the night life
Many students move away for the freedom, the independence and the wild nights out. Yes, this is fun and a part of student life, but this is not everything that goes on!
Commuting certainly does not mean you have to miss out on the nights out. One tip I would say for this is to make friends with someone living on campus, just in case those wild nights leave you worse for wear to get home! There is nothing stopping you from sleeping at a mate’s house, hence you can still enjoy those nights. But ultimately, the nights out aren’t everything…so don’t fear the FOMO.
I know so many friends who have moved away and spent the first year being homesick. Yes, it is a part of ‘growing up’, but if it is going to come at the cost of your first year of uni being wasted feeling stressed and lacking full concentration, is it really worth it? If you can just live at home where you are comfortable, it could enable you to get the best out of your degree and performance.
I know for myself, I liked having the escape and comfort of being able to come home and work in my own time and under my own rules. When speaking to my friends who had moved away, they felt more socially pressured into following the status quo and going along with what their housemates were doing. For example, my friend explained how they would often have to push uni work to one side in order to engage socially. Of course, this was a decision that had two options, but if the choice to work instead of socially engage was chosen, they feared that they would be judged and miss out so they felt obliged. Being a commuter, there was less expectation to engage and so things, I feel, can be done better in your own terms.
It’s easier for students to live at home - think about all the hassle in changing doctors, dentists, hairdressers – even local grocers'!
Some tips for commuters:
- Always check for traffic updates before you begin your journey to and from university – sometimes it may be more beneficial and time-efficient to work from home instead
- Create a space at home for quiet revision. Ensure you have a go-to ‘university work’ environment
- Use email and phone to contact with lecturers and tutors. Just because you may have less time to go and speak to tutors in person if you’re running for the bus, it does not mean you have to miss out on the advice. Use your initiative and find alternate ways of communication. Do not be afraid to reach out!
- Research into discounts and deals for travel, particularly if you use public transport where weekly and yearly travel passes can be purchased
- Do your best to make friends. It is harder to make friends when you commute, as you are not on campus as much. Therefore, it is key for you to try your best to network in the days you are in if you want a social network at university.
- Attend Fresher’s Week
- Organisation and time management is key. If you are travelling to and from university, you need to ensure you use your time efficiently. For example, if you know you have an hour’s travel by train every morning and evening, why not take some revision notes or uni reading to do, saving you the workload later on? If you are driving, why not listen to some podcasts?
So all in all, commuting isn’t as bad as everyone tells you – it is possible to work and deliver a university experience just as well as on-campus students. Most importantly, do not forget that with your university degree, you get out what you put in - so make the most of it. Take your time to decide on your options, stay focused and follow your ambitions. Ignore myths by others – it is a degree for you, not anyone else, so make it yours.
Rebecca Dunne, the author of this blog post, is a second year University of Hertfordshire BA (Hons) Management undergraduate student and works as a freelance writer for www.companyrescue.co.uk following her UH internship with them in summer 2018.