Last semester I had the misfortune of meeting the most sadistic person I’ve ever met. Usually I wouldn’t categorize just anyone as so, but let me tell you all a little story first as to how I came to this conclusion.
I’m a commuter – and I actually really like it.
So naturally it would shock me that someone would tell me that they would off themselves if they were me, having to live in the same town that I grew up in for the following four years. All complete with this disdainful look that had one of those “I’m so sorry that you’re never actually going to have a life” vibes.
I honestly felt terrible about myself for a bit and this person’s words really hurt me. It made me want to never tell anyone that I commute ever again. I didn’t think that living in the same town that you grew up in through college was such a horrible choice.
The idea then came to me that if she would make such a strong statement like that toward me about something that isn’t even that serious, then her hometown is probably just really awful and she was just trying to make me question my life in its entirety.
Needless to say, I recovered quite quickly after that.
Everyone who commutes has their own reason for staying close by, and mine is no exception. If you love the area as much as the next person wouldn’t you want to stick around too if this is where you’re from? Everyone grows and experiences new aspects of life in different ways – some people like the idea of totally getting away from their hometown for college – but that doesn’t mean absolutely everyone does. The sooner people start to realize this and stop judging others for doing so, the better.
When I first meet people and they find out that I commute, that doesn’t change anything. For a lot of people who come from far-away places to this school, I’ve heard that the Hudson Valley is where they would much rather spend their days than wherever they’re all from (Long Island) and I totally get that. But in the end, everyone has a home which they return. For some, this place just happens to be here.
Which brings me to all of you lovely people who do the same thing that I do every day of college: the commuters. I totally admire all of you whether I know you or not. When I meet a fellow commuter I feel like I’m running into a long-lost friend. Kind of like the feeling you get when you run into someone with the same major as you or you’re wearing the same shoes or something.
We commuters live in the reality in which most of us work whenever we aren’t at school and have the worry that bad weather is going to affect our attendance in classes. We stress about not being on campus at a certain time if we have to work on a group project with all people that live on-campus. We get so frustrated about not being able to find a parking spot when we’re already running late for class and have to walk 10 miles uphill after finally cutting someone else off to race into a spot.
We somehow utilize our cars as closets, bookshelves and even beds. We know how to practically pack books, electronics, a days worth of food and clothing all in one bag. Commuter students are the absolute definition of “making things work.”
But we worry about other things, too, like not feeling as involved in a college life as those who live here because sometimes our schedules just don’t coordinate nicely. And most importantly, we’re absolutely fed up of people thinking that we’re disengaged within our college community just because we don’t live here.
This is where we can change that. I really want to stress to all of you commuters that getting involved in at least one activity on campus is so important. It takes a lot more effort for commuters to make every meeting for a club than for someone who lives here, especially with conflicting work schedules and the untimely event of bad weather. I totally understand. But if you stay dedicated and stick with it, you will be really happy that you did.
I give this advice not just out of care, but out of experience. Knowing that I was going to major in journalism as a first-year, it was one of my goals to one day work for this newspaper. When I first learned of what a huge time commitment it would be, I was really discouraged because I didn’t think I would be able to handle it. Even though I don’t live here, I made every meeting getting assigned stories each week. I drove to come to meetings that lasted less than 10 minutes most of the time, just because I knew that this was something that I positively wanted to do.
Even now, working for The Oracle is a lot of extra commitment on my part because I don’t live on campus. At the end of the day, however, I feel equal to everyone on staff because I have remained so dedicated to this common bond that we all share for this paper. I wish that kind of passion for all of you guys, as well. It’s stressful, but it’s totally worth it.
Despite all of these stressors that we commuters face, I still think that we have it pretty well in the grand scheme of things. After school and work we have our own space to come back to; our own comfortable beds to veg around in and don’t have to wear sandals in the showers. We are blessed with the comforts of homecooked meals that are missed by many while they’re in college, and for some of the lucky ones in which this applies – we still get to see our pets every day, too.
Just when you people thought this column wasn’t going to mention my dog. If I would have went away to school I never would have gotten a puppy! Now that’s a sad story. If you know me personally, then you know I’m a little too crazy about my dog and couldn’t imagine life, or Instagram, without her.
Because I’m lucky enough to have my dream school so close by to my home, I get the best of both worlds. At the end of the day, I’m really happy with the decisions that I have made and don’t let that maroon parking pass define how I live my college life. Except which lots I’m allowed to park in.
So here it is, commuters, my tribute to you all. I hope that at least someone feels better about their situation living that commuter life, because I’m in the same boat that you all are. Don’t let the negativity that any self-righteous jerk has affect you. Because when you’re graduating, you’ll feel so proud knowing that you pulled off a full-time college degree and worked a job the entire way through it all.
If you see me on campus, give me a wave. I would love to talk with anyone who is feeling down about this, because I’ve been there before just like you have.
But be warned: if we meet fender to fender in the lot waiting for a parking spot that’s about to open up, just know that you’re definitely not getting it. I’m really sorry, but with experience I’ve gotten pretty stealthy with getting spots. I’m sure that you’ll understand.