If I plan accordingly, most of the days I make it to class on time — give or take a couple of minutes. If I don’t, I’m late — really late.
For example, in order to be on time for a 10 a.m. class, everything has to happen perfectly. I wake up at 7:30 a.m., mentally plan out my outfit while in the shower and get out of the shower by 7:50 a.m. Hopefully, I actually like the outfit I pre-picked; if not, I schedule in time to change, which then means that I have to grab a snack instead of actually eating a well-balanced breakfast, checking my e-mail, or putting on earrings that I usually can’t find. Then I’m out the door, praying my car doesn’t need gas during this crucial time of the morning.
But enough about me; this article is for all the commuters out there racing against the clock (no pun intended) to make it to their first class without being too late, and all without cursing those who get to sleep in late because they live at or near UC Irvine.
So, for all of you who are living off-campus this year or freshman who will never experience dorm life, as an experienced fourth-year commuter, I have compiled a 10-Rule Commuter Survival Guide to help get you through the rest of the year.
Rule #1: Buy a parking permit. Yes, it’s a shame I have to say this, but many commuters are infamous for trying to dodge the campus parking police, “trying” being the key word here. Trust me when I say it’s not worth it. In fact, you will probably end up spending more on parking tickets and meter parking in the long run. If it’s too expensive, try splitting it with someone. Pay for it, and get on with your life.
Rule #2: Eat breakfast. Because as a commuter not only do you have to buy food on campus, but you also have to pay for everything else, too. Eat some dough in the morning to save some dough at lunch. Better yet bring your lunch, borrow your friend’s refrigerator and let it chill until your break.
Rule #3: Take a nap. Depending on how far you have to drive to and from school every day, a nap is key to being able to function. If your friend’s dorm couch has ketchup stains on it, there are many other quiet places on campus (for example: libraries, study lounges, under a nice shady tree in Aldrich Park or even an outside table if you’re brave enough). Wherever you nap, try not to nap in class—unless absolutely necessary.
Rule #4: Get involved. Sadly, if you live at home, chances are your roommate or neighbor is your sister, brother or dog. So, join a club, a sorority/fraternity, get a job on campus, volunteer at a center or all of the above and meet some people. The more things you have to do on campus, the more worthwhile the drive to campus becomes.
Rule #5: Plan your schedule to save gas. Going back-and-forth to school multiple times throughout the day costs money. Try to schedule your classes one right after the other with no more than a two hour break in between or around other commitments you have at school. Conserve gas by only driving back-and-forth to school once a day.
Rule #6: Always shower in the morning before school. Chances are you won’t be going back home for a while, so try to stay fresh, not only for yourself, but for your classmates as well. Although I would love to roll out of bed and go to my 8 a.m. class in my pajamas, as a commuter I know I’ll probably be walking around smelly for the rest of the day.
Rule #7: Know how long it will take you to make it to class from your front door. This includes driving, parking and walking time. If your class is in the middle of the day, schedule a good 10-15 minutes of parking time.
Rule #8: Disregard those “Lot Full” signs and circle around — someone will leave, someone has to leave. However, if you’re running late and don’t have time to stalk unsuspecting parking space holders, Mesa Parking Structure, Social Sciences Parking Structure and Anteater Parking Structure are never completely full.
Rule #9: Check your e-mail before you leave. Professors, teaching assistants, presidents of clubs, group project members, et cetera sometimes cancel class or meetings the day of or even hours to minutes before. This is essential.
Rule #10: Keep a jacket, umbrella, deodorant, lotion, gum, candy, a cell phone charger and change in the car at all times. This is perhaps the most important rule. It is not a matter of whether or not you may need these things, but when.
So, don’t be discouraged. Being a commuter can be a fun and enjoyable experience. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to live at college to have the ultimate college experience. Your college experience is what you make it. So, follow these rules and make it a good one.