Having decided to move back in with my family to study for my masters, after four fun years of being an undergraduate in a student house, I committed myself to a lovely little commute in exchange for no rent and a magical restocking fridge. Of course this sounds like a brilliant exchange, save money on rent and spend an hour a day reading a book… Why would you need survival tips? Well, let me tell you that spending almost two hours in traffic at 6am because your lecture starts at 9am and the bus timetables don’t work out quite well enough for you to get up at a normal time, is no easy feat. However, I have learnt some lessons and am now extremely skilled in the art of surviving the dreaded public transport from my house (only a mere 14 miles would you believe) to the University, and I have some top tips for surviving.
It has taken me four months but I have finally discovered the art of the PODCAST. Reading on the bus, very unfortunately and painfully for myself, makes me feel ill and therefore my entertainment was limited to scrolling Twitter (and wasting all my data allowance every month) until the discovery of the podcast. There is such a huge, huge, range out there that you can literally find one for any mood. You can keep up to date with politics, learn another language, or just have a laugh.
Snacks are ESSENTIAL. I repeat, essential. Imagine this: it’s rush hour, you have been in lectures all day and you ate lunch 6 hours ago. The bus is stuck in a really, really long queue of traffic which consequently means you have to run for the next bus leaving no time to buy coffee or snacks. You then have another hour on the bus starving hungry, and end up getting home in a complete grump running the rest of your evening… It is not fun, and it is why you always need emergency snacks. Preferably of the chocolate kind.
Try to BREAK UP your journey. Sometimes, taking a break between buses or trains in town by grabbing a coffee and a cake makes the commute so much more bearable. Plus it can be really productive and a good time to get some reading done.
Get yourself a SEALED coffee cup. The last thing you want is to pour hot coffee or tea all over yourself when the bus grinds to a halt at the next bus stop because the bus driver almost missed it.
DO YOUR RESEARCH. Don’t just do the route that you’ve always done just because you know it. It might take you less time to get off a stop earlier and walk (really, it might). Or, tickets might be cheaper if you buy multiple trips in one go. The cost of commuting can be so expensive so it’s so important to know you’re getting the most for your money. Less money and time spent on the bus means more money and time for coffee. It’s a no brainer.
AVOID the front of the bus. This sounds weird but the front of the bus is always so chaotic and you are much more likely to be coughed and sneezed on. It’s always good to have a seat further back that you can get settled in whilst the hoards of people get on and off at every single stop.
And finally, BE POSITIVE. Commuting in and out of Reading might not seem like the worst thing in the world but if you have to do it everyday at rush hour, it is extremely challenging. So, remain positive. Remind yourself why you’re commuting. It might be to save money on rent, which means working fewer hours at the weekend. Or maybe it’s so you can live with the people you want. Whatever it is, keep it in the back of your mind at 6am when someone with a dreadful cold (who probably got on at the stop that the driver almost missed causing you to spill that coffee) has decided to sit next you despite the rest of the bus being completely empty.
Published in The Spark Newspaper February 2018