You’ve all heard the horror stories of commuting— traffic jams, no parking and realizing you forgot something important when you’ve already made it halfway to campus. But commuting to school doesn’t always suck. You can see your family every day, save money on campus housing and get free laundry in the bargain. But while commuting has its perks, it also has its pitfalls.
I show up late to my Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 10 a.m. class a lot. To get to school, I wake up everyday at 7 a.m. to catch an hour-long SEPTA bus to the train station. There, I take two trains: the Market-Frankford Line and the Broad Street Line. If those trains get in late, so do the students. I constantly have to run to class because the trains run slow or stop in the middle of nowhere for no reason. Often time, commuting students get to their classes late, all out of breath because they had to sprint.
At the end of the day, I travel home once I’m done with school or hanging out with friends on campus. I can never stay long because I have to catch the bus. I don’t like to stay later than 9 p.m. anyways, because after that it can get a little dangerous. Catching the bus at night also kind of sucks. Annoyingly, SEPTA buses run every 30 or so minutes. In other words, if I miss the bus I’m in for a long wait.
SEPTA, and other transportation authorities in general, feature in every commuter’s nightmares. The buses and trains often run late, but sometimes something worse happens: The SEPTA workers go on strike. When that happens, all commuting students wind up in serious trouble because they can’t get to school, period. They must figure out a way to get to campus and back, and they don’t even know how long the strike is going to take.
During the fall semester of my freshman year, SEPTA went on strike for over a week. For three out of five of those days, my dad had to take me to school. We had to get up an hour earlier because the city was full of traffic during the strike. When I tried to catch the ghost bus, a bus that Temple offered to their commuting students during the strike, it was almost impossible to get a spot. In fact, I had to email my professors and tell them I would either be late to class or not show up at all because of the strike.
Despite the negatives, commuting has some serious benefits. For instance, I save a lot of money because I don’t have to pay for housing and meal plans. It makes my tuition way cheaper than students living in dorms. I have fewer loans to pay back as a result, so I won’t be in too much debt in the future. Plus, I get to see my family every day, so I never get homesick. Talking with them every day can sometimes get annoying, but I’m glad I live with them; it makes commuting bearable.
Sometimes people say that living on campus gives students a better experience, because of the easy access to games, parties and campus events. However, commuters can have those experiences too. Last year, Temple University hosted a concert at the Liacouras Center for homecoming (called Owlchella) and DNCE came to play at the concert. My friends and I went to the concert and had a great time. Commuter students can still also join organizations and go to sports games or other social events. I’ve joined four organizations since I started here, and I’ve had a blast at Temple University football and basketball games. It all comes down to managing your time.
You can’t deny commuter students face a lot of struggles. But on the bright side, I still get to experience life at Temple while saving a lot of money at the same time. Like anything, commuting has its pros and cons. Everyone’s experience is different—some will love it and others will hate it. For me, I’m learning to love it. Commuting makes up a big part of my life, and I don’t plan on changing it.