There are many advantages to living an hour away from the University of Utah. Everything I need is in walking distance, I’m close to my family and the rent is half as expensive as it is in Salt Lake City. However, if I weren’t so desperate to save money, I would live in the city because of the one thing that angers me enough to question my money-saving practices: commuting.
Driving for two hours every day has so many disadvantages that I almost want to drop out. For one, that’s two hours every day taken out of my life that could be used for sleeping or doing homework. I lose 10 hours of my life each week to the road.
I get off work every day at 6:30 p.m., which isn’t too bad, but with the commute I don’t get home until 7:30 p.m. This means that in order for me to get seven hours of sleep, I only have three hours to do homework.
It’s even worse for those who use public transportation — though they do it to save gas. Since buses and TRAX make several stops, the travel time doubles. I’ve known students who would wake up at 6 a.m. to catch a bus just to make it to their 11 a.m. class. While you’re on the bus wasting so much time, there’s a 50 percent chance you can’t even do your homework because you need internet access to complete assignments. I don’t take the bus, but even I know how annoying it is. On top of spending two hours surrounded by grumpy — or even worse, chatty — strangers, you have to walk to and from the bus stop in the cold or in the dark, which can be dangerous.
You know what else is dangerous? Drivers on the highway. The fact that anything can be happening on the highway during your commute is stressful, especially because you probably won’t hear about it until you’re already well on your way to school. There are people going under the speed limit in the left lane, crazy people zipping in and out of lanes because they’re running late, car crashes, construction or maybe even an exploding oil truck.
The thing that really sucks about the mysteries of the highway and city traffic is that professors don’t excuse you if you’re late. You could leave your house right on time or earlier with time to find and pay for parking on campus, but still be late to class because of things completely out of your control. Driving to school every day is like going to Las Vegas — you have the possibility of gambling your future away.
Honestly, there isn’t much that can make commuting much better, but there are a couple things. If you manage to find someone who lives near you and has a similar schedule, carpool. You will have company in the car, save gas and avoid a two-hour long bus ride. You can make playlists to put you in a good mood, so even if you get stuck in traffic, you don’t really mind because you can jam out. Along the same lines, you can listen to podcasts or audiobooks, whether fun or on subjects related to your classes.
Every now and then, you can get yourself a morning treat from your favorite coffee or smoothie shop to drink while you drive to school, and you can do it using the money you saved by not living in the city or on campus.
During the winter, keep gloves and a blanket in your car. It might be cold outside, but you can snuggle up while you’re driving.
I hope students who live right on or next to campus realize how lucky they are. If I didn’t have to commute, I would sleep in, have plenty of time to do my homework and I would be a nicer, more patient person because of it.