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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Conn chapter.

Over the summer, I had an internship in New York City. Instead of trying to find a place in New York City to live for the summer, I decided to commute from my house in Danbury, Connecticut every day of the week for the entirety of the 10-week program. While it was tiring, it was also pretty exciting. I truly felt like a commuter, setting out early in the morning with all the other daily commuters going into the city. By the end of the summer, I felt like I not only grew as a person, but that I acquired a large wealth of knowledge that could be important for other people thinking about commuting to the city. So, here are some tips and tricks to conquer the city and the commute. 

1. Find a Commuting Buddy if Possible!

While commuting was tiring and draining at times, I was very lucky that I had a friend who came along with me three days a week. My friend from high school and now college also had an internship based in the city. Since his work was hybrid, he only had to go to the office three days a week, so he, like myself, decided to commute those three days. Seeing that we only live four minutes away from each other, he would pick me up in the mornings, take the Metro North train together on the way there, and part ways when arriving at Grand Central. On the way back we would try to catch the same train back (which consisted of me running to the train while he saved me a seat), and then he would drive me back from the train station. The commutes with him honestly made the time go by so much faster. In the hour and a half we were on the train, we would do crosswords, play every game possible on the New York Times app, and even make up a few games ourselves. One of our favorite games to play was train Wordle, which was better known as Metro Wordle. We would each take turns thinking of five-letter words based off of things we saw in and outside of the train. While this is just one of the many things we did to keep each other entertained, it was so nice to have someone I knew there to keep me company, and to experience the pains of commuting with. It is not always feasible to find a friend to come with you, but if you can, I would very much recommend it! 

2. Take A Mask — It can get very smoky and polluted.

I distinctly remember during the work day once, I looked out the window and all I saw was orange. The sky had become a neon orange color, with smog and pollutants flying around in the air. At this point, I was honestly wondering how I would walk to the subway station without inhaling all the toxic air. While this was an effect of the Canadian wildfires, I saw throughout my time in the city that the air in New York often gets very smoky and polluted. I remember going out to grab lunch one day and trying to hold my breath so that I did not have to inhale the air. With this being said, I would 100% recommend carrying a mask into the city, even if you do not plan on wearing it at your workplace. While masks are often associated with the pandemic, they can honestly be your best defense against the air quality that New York sees on occasion. If you think about it, there really is no harm to just keeping one on hand at all times. You never know when it will be needed!

3. Plan out the commute – pick the trains you want to catch and try to get there early to snag a seat!

A large part of the commute for me was making sure I chose the trains I took carefully to allow myself enough time to get to work, and enough time to get from my workplace to Grand Central to catch the train back. The good part of the Metro-North system is that trains come every 15-20 minutes, especially during peak hours. This can be good in case you miss a train that you planned to get, since the tickets you buy are not specific to a certain train. During my commute, I always aimed for the 6:43 a.m. train in the morning (leaving my house at around 6:15 a.m.), and on the way back, tried for the 5:27 p.m. train. There are several factors that come with choosing the right trains. Some are express, meaning that they take less stops, meaning you get to your destination quicker. Express trains are also often emptier because they make fewer local stops. Then there are local trains that stop at more stations. These trains, especially during peak hours, are often crowded, so it’s important to get to Grand Central early to snag a seat if you can. My friend and I had a system where he would save a seat for me while I made my way from work to the station, since his work building was much closer than mine. It is so important to plan this out so that you are not stressed after a long day of work about how you will get back. 

4. Figure out which train ticket package is best for the amount of time you are going. 

It is really important to try to be as cost efficient as possible when commuting. A huge part of that is choosing the right ticket package for you, so that you are getting the greatest number of rides for the amount you are paying. For me, for the months of June and July, I was commuting five days a week, every week. In this case, the monthly pass worked out best because it could be used as many times as I wanted during the month it was bought for. While the peak time tickets are close to $20 one-way, this ticket deal puts the cost closer to $10 one-way, making it almost a half-off deal. In the month of August, I was only commuting nine days (18 trips) making the monthly pass not a very cost-efficient option. In this case, I was able to buy the 20-ride pass that covered my entire commute in August, and even gave me an extra ride. It is so important to look at the prices, and see which deals are best for the time that you will be commuting to the city to make sure you conserve as much money as possible. 

5. If you can walk from Grand Central, DO IT! 

I would definitely recommend walking to your final destination from Grand Central if possible. My friend who I commuted with was within a 30-minute walk from Grand Central to his workplace, so he walked every day back and forth. I, on the other hand, took the subway every day because my workplace was about an hour walk. The subway systems are a very common way to get around the city if you know which ones to take. With that being said, they are also very unpredictable. Unlike the Metro-North train that has a set schedule, the subway cars come when they feel like it. Some days after work, I would get to the subway station and the subway would already be there, while other days, I would have to wait eight minutes until it actually came. Other days, in the middle of the ride, the subway would stop for long periods of time to wait for other subways to leave the stations that they were intending to go to. This made it really hard for me to coordinate train timings with my friend who walked, because he always got to Grand Central at exactly the same time (or even earlier if he left work a few minutes before). This led to numerous occasions where I was running through the Grand Central lobby to catch the train that my friend was saving me a seat on. So, if you want to save yourself from getting a run in on your commutes back, I would definitely recommend walking if possible. 

6. Wear comfy shoes. If you are going to work or somewhere formal, take an extra set of shoes in your bag to change into and out of. 

Finally, I would definitely recommend wearing sneakers or other comfortable shoes while you are in the city. Walking outside, or even through the subway systems can be tiring and you don’t want to be wearing heeled sandals and un-walkable shoes while navigating these parts of the city. Something I saw many of my fellow interns doing is bringing an extra set of shoes in their bag that they could change into when they got to work. This is a great idea because it still makes sure that you are in business casual clothes while at the workplace, but also allows you to have a comfortable commute home. 

Hopefully, these tips will help you figure out your own commute to the city. Make sure on your commutes, you really take in the city, and try to visit as many sights as possible if you can. My biggest regret is not doing a little more sightseeing while I was there. But who knows, since I now feel like I know the commute and know the city, I can take on the role of a tourist next! 

Rashmi Pai

U Conn '24

Rashmi is a senior at the University of Connecticut studying computer science and engineering, with a concentration in cyber-security and a minor in mathematics. She is currently a contributing member of Her Campus UConn and has been since the beginning of her junior year. Aside from writing for Her Campus, Rashmi is also a math tutor at the Q Center, an undergraduate teaching assistant for introductory Computer Science classes, and an undergraduate research assistant for the UConn Voter Center. She aspires to be a software engineer after she graduates from college. In her free time, Rashmi loves to play tennis and swim (and is always looking for a buddy to do both of these things with). When she gets a moment of free time (which is not often), you will most likely see her reading books by mirror lake, and watching re-runs of a range of tv shows, including Parks and Rec, Gilmore Girls, and Schitts Creek.