Half a semester into the experience of a college student and finally my woes of being a commuter are about to burst. For the sake of not knowing where to start, I’ll just start at the beginning of my day – three hours before class starts and at least one hour earlier than my classmates. What does this mean for me? An additional, and dreadful, 60 minutes alone to contemplate my thoughts as I get ready for school. And then, I am forced to head out into the darkness of the morning sky; the sun peeks up as I pack my things into the backseat, almost as if to tease me, saying, “Even I don’t have to be up yet.”
Then the real journey begins: first with the quaintness of a rural open road and the knowledge that I am one of four people awake in the neighborhood. Within three miles, it becomes the unwelcome hustle-and-bustle of city traffic, switching lanes and Starbucks coffee.
I plow onto Interstate 35 into the sea of red lights, wondering why I wake up to do this every morning. Why do I accept that I’ll be stuck in traffic for an hour? Can’t I do something other than succumb to this every day? Well, no, because my dad is never awake early enough to tell me an alternate route.
And so there I am: tired, cranky, and indecisive – three words that won’t let me settle on one of the 12 CDs in my car or the six radio presets. Instead, I drive alternating between silence, CD shuffles and static. The sun doesn’t help when it chases after me again, refusing to leave the focus of my eyes, no matter how hard I try to angle my shade to battle it. After the 40-minute commute, I finally loop onto University Drive and make my way onto campus – my only hope is the assurance of a well-known fact among commuters: It’s when the cars are filling the streets that ample room is left in the parking lot.
Eventually I make it to my seat in class, already feeling my body relax as if it’s about to ask for a nap. But is it even 8 a.m. yet? Then, all day long, I drag my life around – or at least what would fit – in my shoulder bag.
In between classes, I wander around campus, without my own room to return to, and look for a place to settle. I’m often forced to move in search of a power outlet so my laptop battery doesn’t die. As soon as I find one, it’s time to make my way to my last class.
Evening rush hour is such a mess it doesn’t even deserve to be written about, but let me say this: It’s a lucky thing traffic moves so slow. Otherwise who knows how many accidents would occur because of people falling asleep at the wheel – largely out of boredom rather than actual exhaustion.
Finally, after my second drive of the day, I pull into my driveway – the most gratifying turn of the day. I’m left to myself for the rest of the night. I find the lack of disturbance quite peaceful really, allowing me to completely devote myself to finishing my homework at a sane hour – but the interruption of dinner always comes at the most inconvenient times.
Sitting down to eat a home-cooked meal with my family every night of the week always seems like a waste of time – I could have finished two statistics problems by now. I envy my friends who can walk across the street to The Main, grab a bite to go and make it back to their dorms to study.
If only I could live the life of fast food three times a day, seven days a week, the extra hour to hide from myself, the undisturbed life of the dorm – but wait, what if my roommate expects to communicate?
Find out how a commuter could tackle this potential problem next week when I finish explaining daily trials a commuter student faces.
Anahita Kalianivala is a freshman English and psychology major from Fort Worth. Her column appears every Wednesday.