Balance, Down time, How-to, Places, Student Life

Commuting 101

Commuting used to be the most dreaded part of my day. The crowded subway car, the frequent delays and struggling to balance made me never want to face the TTC again. Rush hour: my ultimate nemesis! But since I can’t escape using the TTC to get around, I’ve learned to bear it by making the most of my commute and giving myself ample time to travel. Even if you use a different transit system, like GO transit, here are my commuting tips.

If you’re still new to the commuting life, it’s important to know the major subway stations near campus. When I started commuting, I would always get St. George and Bloor/Yonge station mixed up. Feeling lost on my way to school was not fun! The major subway stations surrounding the St. George campus are Spadina and St. George on Line 2, and Museum and Queen’s Park on Line 1. Even if you don’t commute, it’s still valuable to know these stations, especially when exploring downtown!

Photo of St. George Subway Station

St. George Subway Station: one of the TTC stations close to campus

Commuting is surprisingly beneficial in two ways. After a long day of lectures, I tend to use my commuting time to relax. Plugging in my earbuds, I love turning on some tunes and letting my mind be free. It’s therapeutic and allows me to free myself of stress about school. I’ll often pair my music with some fiction, allowing me to escape into another person’s world. But when those crunch times hit, I use my valuable commuting time well! I highly recommend doing your readings or doing a light review on your way home: I tend to look through cue cards for my science courses, read my laboratory manual or do psychology readings. This not only helps speed up travel time, it also allows me to have more free time when I get home.

It’s bound to happen. You have an important midterm that you’ve spent weeks studying for. You’re on the subway train, calm and collected. Then suddenly, the speaker squawks on. Through the crackling speaker, you hear there’s a delay and the train will be stopped for the next while. What happens next? Panic! It always seems that at the most important times, there’s a subway delay. So here are two tips. First, don’t panic! Even if there’s a delay, it will be fixed eventually… or shuttle buses will arrive and you’ll be on your way. Once you know the system well enough, you’ll also be able to switch routes: for instance, if the College streetcar gets stuck, hop down to Dundas or up to Harbord to get moving again. But this leads me to my second tip: leave well in advance. I give myself double to triple the amount of time I would need to travel to school on exam days than otherwise. From my experience, it can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour to fix the issue causing a delay, depending on the circumstances. By giving myself plenty of extra time, I’ll know I’ll make it on time for my exam. And if transit runs smoothly and I make it to school extra early, I use that additional time to relax or to do a quick review if I feel unprepared.

When a delay hits, commuting can be stressful and irritating. But for us commuters, there really is no way to escape using public transit! If nothing else, it’s a way to practice your balancing skills on those crowded trains, streetcars and buses.