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When I began my Freshers year, I was worried that because I was unable to live on campus due to personal reasons that I would not get the full university experience. I was WRONG. On my course, at least 40% of the students commuted. I was still able to partake in student life outside of my studies and I made what I consider to be life-long friends. Chester is in an amazing location and so there are several ways to commute onto campus. I have experienced travelling by train and by car. Due to the fact that Chester is on a prominent rail line, in my Freshers year before the COVID-19 pandemic, I was able to go on nights out with the people in my class and could get the train home, but also on occasion I would stay with friends in their accommodation. Chester offers parking permits to students who live outside the five-mile radius to allow students to drive onto campus, and despite having lectures at different times of the day, I have always managed to find a car parking space outside one of the buildings or even in the overflow carpark. If you are like me and are unable to move away from home (I am a mother), or if the thought of moving away for your first year of university is not something you wish to do, please do not panic. University experiences do not rely on you living on campus. There are SEVERAL ways for you to partake in activities and make friends - here are just a few of my recommendations for commuters:

  1. Go to the Freshers fairs and take part  in as many Freshers week activities as possible
  2. Use the Facebook group to find a group chat for your course
  3. See if anyone in your cohort lives close, can you commute together perhaps?
  4. Join a society or extra-curricular activity
  5. Lastly, and most importantly, HAVE FUN!

At Chester, there’s lots of different ways to get involved, whether you live on campus or at home. A few ideas can be found here. Societies are not just about sports, (trust me I do not do sports), there’s societies for everything, from people who love gaming to those who love reading books. Some societies are even based around your course. Most importantly, if you find people who share the same interests as you and there doesn’t seem to be a society yet, then make your own! Your university experience is what YOU make it! It’s not about where you live, what you’re interested in, what course you’re doing. It’s all about YOU. This is the time to experiment in things you haven’t thought about before and make friends with everyone you meet. My personal experience of university has been phenomenal and, honestly, I do not want to ever leave. I have made friends that will last a lifetime, enjoyed every single second and all without ever living in university or private accommodation. Going to the University of Chester has been the best experience of my life!

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