During my first year at university, I spent more than 4 hours everyday commuting. This year I spent 20 minutes. I want to share my experience navigating through this decision since many UofT students commute every year.
When I was commuting, I had to leave for my 9 AM classes at 7 AM from home. I would also need to leave latest by 7 PM if I wanted to catch the last train home. I barely had any time to spend on campus. Whether it was not being able to study with friends or participate in on campus events and clubs, this limited my university experience to mostly classes and home.
Books were my best friends during my first year and I thought that not having a social life was for the best anyway, since my program is very competitive. Although I had more time to study, I was also exhausted from commuting. Although my laundry and cooking were done for me, I couldn’t spend more time on my academics or enjoy a social life. It was a lose-lose situation for me.
I decided to move on campus because I wanted to spend my university years having new experiences and being close to academic life. This meant that I could attend late office hours without worrying about my train leaving. I could also study with my friends for longer periods in the library. Being around people from the same program has made me feel less anxious and happier.
I was able to become my own person. I became more independent away from home. I started trying new things like different cuisines with my roommate or learning how to fix a dishwasher by myself. I learnt life skills.
Now that I was doing extra things like chores and house-work, I had to learn how to manage my time better. I spoke to a Learning Strategist at Accessibility Services so that I could manage my anxiety around this. My appointment made a significant impact on how I manage my day and not overwhelm myself with too much work. As I mentioned last week, Learning Strategists assist with planning your days, coming up with studying techniques and helping you have a more balanced day when it comes to work and other activities. My day consisted of more things than just eating, commuting, studying and sleeping.
Participating in on-campus events and workshops and being at campus in general, made me feel like I was part of the university. I was less exhausted and I was happier. I was paying an extra $400 per month than I usually would for commuting, but I definitely think I made it worth it. My grades went up and I was able to plan and realize what a good day looked like for me.