AHMED: Transition into commuting can be stressful for students

Never in a million years did I think I would get the opportunity to live on campus. This may come as a surprise to many readers.

This was just how it was for me. Rutgers is about a 30 to 35-minute drive from my house. Therefore, there was no need for me to live on campus. But when my Rutgers acceptance came, I was offered an invitation as a student in the Honors College. Awesome, but not quite.

With being part of the Honors College came the mandatory first-year housing requirement, and I knew my parents did not want me to live on campus when my commute was doable. My parents were really against the idea of me living on campus and accepting the offer — at first. 

But after hours, or rather, days of convincing, I was able to get my parents to understand that this was an offer I could not pass up, and I am glad I did not. Aside from the advantages that came with me being a student living in the Honors College and being surrounded by some incredibly academically excelled and just genuine people, I ended up having a really great experience. 

I met my current best friends there, who I know will be my lifelong friends. I also managed to acquire so many skills through this experience, such as doing laundry, interdependence and independence. I was able to learn to coexist with my roommate and manage to compromise on the different habits we had that could cause some rough patches in our cohabitation. 

Most importantly, I learned the essence and true definition of community. For that, I truly cannot be more grateful. But this article is not about my experience living on campus. This article, instead, will highlight the adjustment of shifting from being a student who lives on campus to being a commuter.

I expected the transition to take some time, and though it is taking time, I did not expect it to be quite as complicated as it has been. I was not accustomed to waking up about an hour and a half before my classes, as I used to roll out, max, half an hour before my class. I value my sleep, so this shift was quite difficult to get adjusted to. 

I also had to buy a parking pass, and I thank my commuter friends who explained the process to me. Aside from the parking pass, I had to walk from my parking spot which was always at the end of the world. I definitely hit my 10,000 steps a day just by walking from my parking spot to my class or the bus station. 

Even more so, I had to account for the time needed to take the bus from the campus I parked on, to the campus where I have class. I mean, Rutgers buses already suck, but now I had to deal with them even more. Yay. 

One of the absolute worst changes, though, was learning when to avoid Route 18 or Interstate 287 during the morning or afternoon rush hour. Take my word for it, you do not want to deal with the horrendous traffic. 

Academically, I was also not used to the fact that my study habits in and of themselves would change. I was able to head to my room once classes were over and get to studying. With commuting, though, I had to figure out specific lounges, study locations and libraries that I could study in when I stayed on campus late. 

I also had to choose my clubs and organization commitments differently because I did not want to drive home really late and risk falling asleep at the wheel. Drive safe everyone!

But the hardest transition — and the worst of all, of course — was that I had no dining hall at my disposal to quench my hunger when I wanted some lunch or dinner. I had to either make my lunch or buy it. Pro tip from an official four-week commuter: Go with the former. 

Though these changes have shown to be tedious and a bit complicated, I am a firm believer that change is a good thing. I have become accustomed to seeing my family every night, which may be the biggest blessing that comes with being a commuter. I have also been able to see my non-Rutgers friends more often, considering I am home more than I used to be. 

Best of all, though, I have definitely enhanced my driving skills. My friends may not agree, but I think I can tell best, right?

 Laila Ahmed is a School of Arts and Sciences secomd-year majoring  in information technology and informatics and English. Her column, “The Unapologetic Writer,” runs on alternate Thursdays.