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As a commuting student, I understand how stressful it can be to commute back and forth from your accommodation to school. I'm a Master's student who commutes from Manchester to Chester for school and it takes me approximately 1 hour 30 minutes to get to school and around the same time to get back home, using public transport. The UK transport system can be daunting at first for international students, but here are some things that have made my experience easier – and you should really listen to me because I have never lost my way since arriving in the UK!

  1. Invest in a good smartphone – it could honestly save your life. You can pay for your bus, train and tram tickets online; use Google Maps for directions; save your bank cards on your phone; easily search for details online in case of emergencies; and a host of other things. My phone has literally been so useful to me in figuring out transportation in the UK. Please get one.
  2. I have a look at my timetable at the start of every week (or the week before) on the school's mobile app to know what days and times I have to go to school so I can plan my trip(s) accordingly.
  3. I make the trip to Chester by train so I check my usual train operator's mobile app (I use the Northern Railway app) to make sure I can get a return ticket two hours ahead of the time I need to be in school and an hour from when I close from school. For example, my first class for the day is usually by 10am, so I get an 8am ticket, and my last class for the day is 5pm, so I get a 6pm ticket (or afterwards depending on my extracurricular activities). This is to ensure that I have enough time to go from the train station to class and back. You can use your preferred train operator. Try out Northern Rail's website
  4. Google Maps is my best friend, and it should be yours too! I use it to check bus times mostly, but you can use it to check times for buses, trains and trams. Amazing, isn't it? So usually, I have to take a bus from my accommodation to the train station I'm going to that day. It could either be Manchester Victoria or Piccadilly train station, so I check bus times from my location to the train station I'm heading to for 7am (it is important to check for bus times an hour ahead of your train time in case of delays) so I know what time I need to be at my bus stop. 
  5. This next one may be the hardest part because I know sometimes it gets really tiring but wake early! And no, when I say early, I don't mean everyone should be awake by 4am! I mean, wake up early relative to your train or bus time, so you don't miss them. I wake up by 5.30am or 6am (depending on how tired I am) to get ready for school because, like I mentioned earlier, my first class of the day is usually by 10am and my train departure time, 8am. This usually involves me taking a shower, dressing up, eating breakfast, making sure I have all my notes in order, prepping my snacks and/or food and drinks for the day and heading to my bus station. Prep time for me is usually an hour. For food, you can prepare it the day before and store it in your refrigerator to save time. There are microwaves available in the kitchens of the Workspaces buildings on campus to warm up your food, so don't worry too much about it getting cold.
  6. Please ask questions if you ever feel confused or lost about anything! There are usually attendants in the train or bus stations that can answer any questions you may have if you get confused. If you ever get lost, please don't be too shy to ask questions from passers-by – the UK people are very friendly and often happy to help. If it'll make you feel safer, please go to the nearest convenience store – you can find and ask the shop attendant questions about your location and how to get where you're headed.
  7. Because of how well I've planned my day, I usually just head to the bus station when I'm ready, then the train station. When I get to Chester, I walk to school with a friend, head to class, and when class is done for the day, I head back home to have a good night's rest.

Pro-tip: The Google Live view is very useful for commuting students who like to walk. See exactly how to use Google Live on your smartphone 

How has your experience as a commuting student been? Please share your responses, you can also message me on Unibuddy anytime to answer any questions you may have. Catch you later!

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