After twelve weeks of making the trip from suburbia to downtown Toronto and back, I finally appreciate how difficult it is to be a commuter student at UBC.
For my first couple of weeks, I was so exhausted from the commute that by the time I got home I just curled up in my bed and dozed off halfway through an episode of Parks & Recreation. While I’m now able to go to work and back without transforming into a complete sloth, the commute is still long, draining, and more than a little boring at times. Luckily, I’ve found some ways to make it more bearable.
Here are some commuting tips that I’ve figured out over the summer, with a few UBC specific tips thrown in:
1. Get everything ready the night before. Commuter students don’t get to roll out of bed and walk across the street to class. When you’re living off campus, you sometimes need to wake up brutally early in order to make it to class on time—especially if it’s one of the dreaded 8 am sections. This can be super challenging if you’re not a morning person (like me). So how did I manage to catch my 7 am train every morning? Simple: I would prepare everything the night before. I would set out my clothes, make my lunch, pack my bag, and put my Starbucks French roast in the coffee maker so that when my alarm went off in the morning, I wouldn’t need to put any thought into getting ready.
2. Charge your electronics. Along the same lines, make sure that you charge your phone/iPod/Kindle/iPad/whatever other pieces of technology you might have the night before your commute. There’s nothing worse than wanting to cozy up to Fifty Shades of Grey only to realize that your eReader’s battery is as dead as Julius Caesar (not that I read Fifty Shades or anything…).
3. Bring snacks. Warning: food on campus can be kind of expensive. Even if you only shell out a few dollars here and there, it can add up. My favourite commuter snacks were granola bars, grapes, homemade trail mix, and red pepper and hummus. Plus, you’re forced to eat healthy foods for lunch this way! (Although I recommend you indulge in a Blue Chip cookie every once in a while)
4. Get yo’ text on. You can find out when the next few busses are coming by texting the stop number to 33333. I wish the TTC offered this service. It would’ve saved me many minutes of wondering whether I have time for a Starbucks run before the next bus arrives.
5. Remember your U-Pass. I was notorious among my group of friends for misplacing my U-Pass on a regular basis. Keep it in a designated pocket in your wallet/backpack/satchel/whatever and leave it there. And don’t forget your student card, too!
6. Buy good headphones. The purpose of noise-cancelling headphones on your commute is twofold: a) to block out everyone around you and b) to keep your music in your ears and no one else’s. While I realize that not everyone can afford Beats by Dre, you can get a good quality pair for $20-$30, and they’re definitely worth it. I personally use SkullCandy Inkd ear buds, and love them! They come in lots of pretty colours and get the job done. And please don’t use the white Apple headphones. That is, unless you want everyone on the 99 B-Line knowing that you’re jamming out to One Direction (I’m revealing way too many of my guilty pleasures in this post).
7. Be courteous on the bus. Give up your seat for that Betty White look-a-like. Don’t reserve a spot for your gym bag. Text your friends (or mom!) instead of calling them. It’s just good manners, and you’ll earn karma points. Win-win.
8. Switch up your commute. Take a different route or method of transportation every once in a while. This can make the commute seem a little less monotonous and give you a nice change of scenery. And if you live close enough, why not try biking to school? You can fit in a little morning exercise as well.
9. Stay the night! There’s a commuter hostel in Gage where commuter students can stay for $30 a night. This means that if you’re studying late during exam time, you don’t necessarily have to bus all the way back to Surrey.
10. Get involved on campus! Don’t use the fact that you’re not on campus 24/7 as an excuse. I can 100% guarantee that you’ll have a better university experience if you get involved. Whether this is through a REC intramural league, peer tutoring, or a fraternity/sorority is completely up to you, but make sure you do something! If you only come to UBC campus for your classes and then hop back on the bus, you’re definitely missing out.
To celebrate the fact that I’m one step closer to Vancouver (and no more commutes!), here’s a song that reminds me of my favourite city in the world: The Only Place by Best Coast . Just replace “LA” with “Vancouver” and the Kings jersey with a Canucks jersey (and in case you were wondering, yes, the band’s name was the inspiration for my blog title). Enjoy!