Edited by: Veronika Potylitsina
“OMG that sucks!”, “How do you survive?”, and “Do you still make friends?” are familiar reactions that students who commute over 45 minutes a day frequently hear. To most university students, long commutes equal no social life, exhaustion, and no going out past nine, but does commuting really threaten to end your social life?
According to a study featured in U of T News, 33% of students attending Toronto Universities commute over two hours a day, and 25% live more than 20km off campus. Long commutes are far more common than you would expect: over 5,000 students daily know that their morning alarm clock marks the beginning of their morning rat race.
There is no one answer to the question on whether commuting limits your social life or not, it really differs by the student. As a commuter, it is easy to feel lonely or isolated if you come to school and leave school alone, or you may feel limited in the amount of time you have to spend with friends. However, with proper planning and time management, your social life can be vibrant as a commuter student. Within my first year, I commuted over an hour a day and still managed to make countless friendships and get involved in many aspects of U of T, including Greek Life, a research position, and a program union subcommittee.
Additionally, U of T provides many resources to help commuter students thrive socially and academically. A great example of this is the Commuter Students’ Centre (CSC) located in University College. The CSC provides commuter students with a space to rest between classes, study, store food, socialize and charge electronic devices. The CSC hosts many social events including Christmas and Halloween parties, allowing students to interact with each other, make friends, and find commuting buddies. This past summer the CSC hosted a retreat for incoming UC commuter students called “My Journey”. My Journey facilitated many activities to help incoming first years make connections with other students and find their way around campus.
As stated by My Journey delegate Isaac Pilozo, “Attending [the] My Journey retreat was an incredible and beneficial experience for me. As a commuter, I was afraid that it would be difficult for me to make friends, but My Journey allowed me to connect and gain friendships with other students to make the transition to U of T less scary. Also, the CSC is a great space if you’re looking for an inclusive and social environment to make friends and relax.”
By participating in opportunities such as My Journey, and many of the other commuter resources offered around campus, commuter students can be equally as involved in U of T social and academic life as residence students. My Journey attendee Shelly Stub stated “[A] couple days before My Journey I was so nervous to meet everybody that I couldn’t sleep. Honestly, I wish I could tell myself that there was no reason to worry. The moment I arrived I already befriended a group of people before even entering the CSC, and that was only the beginning. We were put into groups later that morning and those people became some of my greatest friends [and] I still keep in contact with them. The activities were fun and engaging and most of all-inclusive. I will always remember running around the UC building at night playing sardines. It was an amazing experience, one I will never forget.”
Life as a commuter can be tough, but it can also be great if you use U of T’s commuter student resources and participate actively and fully in the U of T community. Cause hey, why live on res when you can enjoy home cooked meals and free laundry?
Shelly Shub is a first-year student in University College majoring in life science, who commutes from Vaughan.
Isaac Pilozo is a first-year student in University College double majoring in English and Drama, who commutes from Brampton.