Being A University Commuter by Sophie Polak
Are you a university commuter? So was I, back in the day (well, up until May 2014) and I actually really didn’t mind. Although I resented the train fare, I was travelling away from London so couldn’t use my discounted Oyster card, grr. I counted my blessings because even though the fare went up each year, it was a lot cheaper than rent. My tutor was also very kind and turned a blind eye when I arrived late for class because I wanted to get a cheaper train (only by 5 minutes, don’t judge).
So, being a university commuter, I wanted to pass on my knowledge to help some of you out! There are days when you just want to run out of the station and back under the covers, but stick with it. You are sure to get so much done after you have made an effort to get into uni, as it is generally a better environment and less temptation to procrastinate.
Get yourself a 16-25 railcard.
By paying £30 per year or £70 for three years you can save yourself a third on most fares, when you travel after 10 am (which isn’t ideal for a 9 am class, might I add). Anyway, if you are travelling before 10 am, a £12 minimum fare still applies. This still suited me because my fare was £14 return so I saved £2. Every little helps. My railcard has also saved me so much money when I’ve wanted to visit friends in faraway lands. I once got a £60 first class seat from London to Leeds for £7.50 along with a free bag of crisps. Result. So I cannot recommend it enough.
Get yourself an 18+ student oyster photocard.
Sorry for anyone that is not a Londoner, but if you are studying in London or have a permanent address there, it is well worth applying for this travel card. You receive 30% off of travel cards, bus and tram passes. Please note this is only for the weekly/monthly kind of pass. You can link the 18+ oyster to your 16-25 railcard and save yourself 34% on off peak fares. As a side note, I’d be very interested to know where on earth there are trams in London?
Pack some snacks.
If you’ve got an early class or are just being really good and heading to the library early, pack yourself some snacks. It will be tempting to pop into that ridiculously priced newsagent at the train station, and because you have nowhere else to stock up on your chocolate cravings, you fork out 50p for a Freddo. Some snacks i’d recommend would be hot cross buns, a nutella sandwich and ready salted crisps. These snacks have a subtle scents that won’t annoy your fellow commuters.
Get a decent flask.
Again, I wasn’t really up for paying £3.50 for a hot chocolate at the station if it wasn’t from my favourite high street coffee shop, that puts your name on the cup, ahem naming no names. Make sure you invest in a decent flask to keep your drink hot. Especially in winter, with travel delays, it will keep you warm and cosy and stop you from heading home and sacking uni off altogether.
Charge your laptop.
So, maybe I was really privileged to have a whole train carriage to myself most mornings (remember I was travelling away from London) when many commuters don’t even get a seat. Having nothing else to distract me on the train, apart from my trusty copy of the Metro, meant that I was able to use my hours commute to finish off that essay or proof-read my projects. By making sure your laptop is fully charged means that you can grab every second to get some work done.
General items that help.
An umbrella, we are in Britain, so wet weather is inevitable. A backpack, I bought one with a laptop sleeve attached so that I didn’t have to lug around lots of different bags. Hats, gloves and a scarf, when there isn’t a waiting room at the station, it can get pretty chilly so wrap up warm. Also you can now buy gloves which allow you to use your smartphone touch screen, well worth buying a pair!
Just hang in there fellow university commuters, summer is only a few months away and the journey gets that little bit easier.