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How my journey started.

I originally wanted to live in student accommodation when I applied. I was living in Lincoln at the time, but all my family lived in the North West or North Wales. They encouraged me to move in with my dad and save money by commuting. I was totally against it and decided I wanted to go it on my own and have that ‘real’ student experience everyone talks about. I filled in my application; I wanted my own kitchen and bathroom (I had heard the horror stories about the cleanliness of shared kitchens and bathrooms and that was not for me), I sent them off and that was that.

Then I got my email with the accommodation I had been offered. I had taken so long to apply and been so picky with what I wanted, the only option was private accommodation. I realised by wanting all of the amenities to myself I’d be setting myself back nearly all of my student loan, something which I had not planned for in my bubble of excitement. So, I made the decision to move in with my dad and save money, after all it was only 20 miles away from Exton Park (Parkgate Road). I packed up my car and off I went to start a new life in North Wales.

Try and meet other commuting students.

As soon as I moved, I joined a Facebook group called something like ‘University of Chester Law students 2016’ and saw a post where commuter students were posting their location (the very general area nothing specific) and how they were commuting. I had decided to get a season ticket for the train and travel that way as I had never driven into Chester before. So, I commented ‘North Wales, Train’.

I then received a message from a girl, who little did I know would become my BFF. She was commuting by train and lived in North Wales too, and so we arranged to meet on our first day and walk together. I would definitely recommend trying to get to know other commuting students, it can make your journey into uni so much better! It quickly became our morning-routine; we would meet at the train station and do the 20-minute walk to the campus together.

I won’t lie, as someone who was used to driving everywhere that walk was a shock to the system but having someone to chat to made it easier and in the end, it would fly by! I got the train in and walked five days a week for around a year and a half, apart from those rainy days where we would grab a cab and split the fare, it was roughly £2.50 each so it didn’t break the bank. Plus living at home meant I had that bit extra to spare so we could enjoy days out, shopping and sightseeing if we just had one lecture in the morning.

It isn’t always great…

However, after those 18 months or so, work started on my local train line. I live quite rurally, and trains are only once an hour, so with long delays starting, I had to leave my house ridiculously early and wouldn’t get back until late at night. One day, I decided that I needed to bite the bullet and drive. I had been so used to getting the train and walking that I had barely driven my car and it was scary to get back on the road.

But use it to your advantage.

The first day I left at rush hour, hit traffic and a 25-minute journey took me over an hour. So, the next day I left at 7:30am for a 9:00am lecture. I arrived on campus at 08:00. I was super early, but I started to use this to my advantage – I would always get a good parking space, I could beat the line at Starbucks to get my morning caffeine in and I could sit down with my laptop and catch up on any work that needed to be done before my classes. I watched some of my classmates who lived close by rushing in 5 minutes late after thinking they could definitely wake up 10 minutes before and still make it on time.

Overall, I loved commuting. I was so organised with my time because I had to be, and my work thanked me for it! I had money to spare and so I could do more with my free time. It did concern me that I was not getting that stereotypical uni experience of going out all the time. I could still go out every now and then, I had great friends who let me stay over or some of us would travel to Liverpool and stay over for a girls’ trip. It was different to how it would have been if I had lived in Chester, but I still made great friends who I am still close with today. My uni experience was still amazing and I discovered there is no ‘real’ way to do it.

I am now a postgraduate student who commutes when face-to-face sessions are able to run. My timetable is one Wednesday afternoon each week, so it makes sense for me to stay where I am and keep commuting, after all I am used to it and all my classmates do it too!

My final tips:

  • Try and meet other commuting students for company
  • Use it to your advantage and plan your time well!
  • Be ready for the possibility your journey could be disrupted
  • Don’t worry about having a different uni experience, different does not mean it can’t be amazing

 

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