Monday, 10 October 2016

Commuting to University - The Reality

As I embark on another year commuting to university, I thought I would write a post on what it is actually like to commute as I do get asked about it a lot.

I decided a long time before starting university that I didn't want to live there. I couldn't stand the thought of being away from home, away from my support network and having to live with strangers. I did look around some accommodation, but I just couldn't see myself actually living there. I was also really worried about how much money I would actually have to live on at university, by the time I'd have paid my rent, my student loan would have left me with around £5 a week to actually live on. I would have also had to completely start over in terms of my nail business as I would have had to leave all my regular clients at home, or alternatively get a new job. My whole life is in Shrewsbury and I just couldn't face uprooting and starting again.

Last year, I commuted to Manchester and back three days a week. It took me around 20 minutes to drive to the train station, then it took around 1 hour 20 minutes on the train to get to Manchester Piccadilly. I could then walk to university from the train station which took a further 10 minutes. By the time I had actually got to uni, i'd been up around 3 and a half hours and travelled nearly 2! I look back and I really do wonder how I did it. Although I was only in three days a week, they were long days. My lessons were pretty spread out and I would have 4 hour gaps in between lessons where I couldn't just go home and have a nap like others did. On a Thursday, I would have to be up at 5:30am in order to get in for 9am and I didn't get home until 8:30pm. Towards the end of the year, it got too much and I did miss quite a few days of university due to the fact I was just so exhausted and drained.

The early mornings and longer days are really hard and it's surprising how much energy it takes out of you. I felt like I couldn't really concentrate properly once I was actually at university as I was just so tired, and I didn't do as much work at home as, again, I just wanted to sleep! (Just to note, if I had only been doing university I think it would have been more realistic but I was working two jobs as well as doing a degree, so I didn't really stop!) Despite all of this, I did get a 2:1 in my first year and I was so close to a first overall.

I am now commuting to Birmingham City University. It takes around an hour on the train so it is slightly closer than Manchester. The trains are also more frequent so there is a lot less waiting around. The difference is, I am now in 4 days a week but they are much shorter days, and there are no big gaps in between my lessons.

As well as the early mornings and longer days, commuting also makes it harder in a social aspect. I haven't done "Freshers Week" this year, nor did I last year. I'm sure if I had really wanted to I could have worked around this, but not living in halls makes it a lot harder to take part. For me, that wasn't really important, but if you do decide to commute, it may be something to think about. I don't think commuting has really affected my ability to meet new people, I met some lovely people on my course in Manchester, some that i'm really gutted to not be at university with for second year! Everyone is in the same boat and even if you do live in halls, it doesn't guarantee you will know anyone on your course.

Enough of the negatives, I just want to give a realistic account of what it is like, but there are many positives too. Firstly, it saves sooo much money! I spend around £100 a week on travel and expenses, which does leave me with some of my student loan to spend on other things. It is nice to have a bit of extra money and not feel as though I have to go without or scrimp. Another positive is that I can come home, sleep in my own bed and see my family and friends. I have been able to keep working around university too and I don't feel like a lot has had to change, which for me is the best thing.

If you have any other questions or anything else I have missed, please do leave a comment.
Do/did you commute to university? Do you wish you had?

Becci x

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