So You’re Commuting?by Jo W. on Sep, 03 2012
“So, where do you live?”
As a freshman last year, I try not to grit my teeth as I am faced head-on with one of the most commonly-asked questions. I only know what sort of reaction to expect.
“I actually commute,” I tell the querent.
“You commute????? Woah!” Then came the torrent of awkward commentaries:
“That must be so hard on you!”
“You have to carry everything with you everyday in your backpack, don’t you?”
“That sucks! You can’t socialize!”
During freshman year, I commuted from Oakland, which wasn’t so bad. First semester, I had an 8 AM class, so I woke up at 6:30 AM and had to be driven by my parents every single day I had an 8AM. The following semester, I had no 8 AM’s. All I had to do was hop on the 51B at Rockridge BART and enjoy the no-transfers-necessary-nor-gas-fees ride straight to campus. I had it easier than many other commuters.
Commuter students at Cal are actually from many places in the Bay Area. I have met or heard of commuters who came from San Francisco, San Leandro, Daly City, San Ramon, El Cerrito, and Fremont – just to name some cities. Many take BART, some take Amtrak, and some drive. Speaking from experience, here are 6 tips for current and future student commuters.
1) Avoid owning and driving a car if you can
Here’s another horrific image of a morning commute traffic. Are you really willing to put yourself through that torture? In addition to paying for gas and insurance already, you have to pay for a parking permit in Berkeley. Not to mention parking and driving in Berkeley is a huge pain in the you-know-where.
2) Take advantage of your class pass
Did you know that a $68.00 portion of every student’s registration fees each semester goes towards your AC transit pass? Yet, these rides are worth an incredible $1,200? With your class pass, you get free bus rides to anywhere in Alameda county, AND a free bus ride to the Transbay Terminal in San Francisco. The Transbay Terminal is in a close walking distance to Market St., one of the most busiest and popular parts of San Francisco. I’ve used my class pass in many of my commutes, to the point that I believe my usage has exceeded the actual value of the class pass! In addition, thanks to the Transbay Terminal-bound F bus, I can go to San Francisco and Bay Street in Emeryville whenever I want, and I haven’t used the BART to get to San Francisco since high school!
3) If you have to take 8 AM’s, plan ahead
Pack your bags and plan what you’re wearing the night before. Try to get at least 6, 7, or 8 hours of sleep before you have to wake up, eat breakfast, and get ready to head out the door. Try to get to campus at least 10 minutes early. It’s always better to be early than late!
Oh, and please, an alarm clock is one of your best friends!
HORROR STORY: One of my classes had an extremely stringent tardiness policy on the first day of class. If you were late and arrived after Berkeley time, you would be instantly dropped from the class, since there’s a long waitlist. This one girl overslept and came about ten minutes after Berkeley time, only to be told she had been dropped from the class by the administrator. Don’t let that happen to you.
4) Register for a locker
You can register for a locker at the Hearst Gym for $15 per semester. Follow this link, and scroll down to “Lockers/Showers.” Carrying around back-breaking textbooks and notebooks all day long is such a pain.
To be honest, I never registered for a locker. I preferred carrying my things with me everywhere, so that I wouldn’t have to run back and forth between the Heart Gym and somewhere else. But that was me.
5) Be communicative with your family
To avoid having to deal with high school-esque drama, be communicative with your folks back at home, especially if they’re helping you out with transportation. Let them know an estimation of what time you plan to get back home, call in advance to let them know if you have to stay later, etc. They should be understanding that you’re in college, your foray into the real world, and treat you like an adult. But just because they’re no longer treating you like a little kid is no excuse for you to act like a self-entitled brat and hormonal teenager. Treat them as you would treat roommates and peers.
I couldn’t resist using a photo of the Addams Family, from the 60′s TV series adaption.
6) Join at least one club
As a commuter, your social life will be limited. A large portion of the time you could have spent with friends in the residence halls (which are ridiculously expensive, and wasn’t worth it to me, especially since I had residence hall experience prior to Cal and I was living so close to Berkeley) or whatever else will be spent commuting.
Join a club here! There are so many, and there’s bound to be at least one organization that suits your interests. I joined Caliber Magazine my first semester as a freshman, and I’m ridiculously happy that the staff was very understanding that I couldn’t make it to every meeting since I had to commute. Not a day goes by with me regretting my position as a blogger for Caliber.
Now, this is only a simple article of tips that I want to share with other commuters. For more information, please visit these resources: