Helpful Tips & Tricks for Making Your Commute to School Marginally Less Terrible

Commuting Your Commute

Many of these are dangerous and will likely backfire.

By Bettina De Mesa, California State University at Fullerton


I commute a total of 3 hours per day.

It’s tiring and I’m stuck in traffic most of the time, but it’s worth it to avoid spending thousand of dollars to rent a shitty apartment. And while it’s definitely a cost effective solution for students, traveling back and forth for hours at a time unfortunately consumes massive chunks of valuable time from a student’s day.

With the right planning though, time spent commuting can be put to good use. Here are eight ways to commute intelligently.

Listen to Podcasts

Podcasts are the simplest form of entertainment, but their existence is virtually unknown to college students. It’s hard enough to listen for an hour in lecture, let alone in the car. But the thing is, some podcasts are actually really interesting.

I don’t mean interesting in the “OMG listen to this debate about the differences between macro and micro economics” interesting, but more like “OMG, he cheated on her with the mailman” interesting. I enjoy the juicy, guilty pleasure-ridden stories on the radio and you should too. It’s basically like listening to Maury while driving.

Here are some of my favorites:

Serial (Season 1): A high school student mysteriously kills his ex-girlfriend in 1999. A radio producer does private research and finds evidence that makes you question if his conviction was wrongful. Expect to be confused when you find yourself rooting for the killer.

Strangers: At first, you will HATE the voice of the host. Once you’re used to her though, the show is not half bad. It follows around strangers and their unique stories. One episode details the experience of an illiterate man who manipulates his way into a college degree and a teaching job. REALLLYY makes you question what you’re doing with your life.

Listen to Lecture Recordings

Who doesn’t record their lectures? I guess this piece of advice is a two-parter: start recording your lectures and listen to them in the car. Let’s say you have a horrible professor. Let’s also say that this professor has an unintelligible accent. To top it off, they post no PowerPoint slides and the midterms are based on notes. WELL SHIT.

No problem! Record the lectures and you can start deciphering the different language your professor is speaking in the car. You’d be surprised how many side comments accidentally get recorded. In one of my own recordings, I heard my professor say “Why the fuck am I here?” under his breath. I ask myself the same question everyday, professor.

Call Your Friends

I hate feeling alone in the car. I imagine horror stories of murderers in the back seat waiting to plunge their knife into my head. HEY IT COULD HAPPEN. To bury this fear deep, deep down inside, I call one of my friends to talk. We talk about who is being a dumb bitch, drama on social media or just plain catch up.

An hour goes by and two things have been accomplished: You distract yourself from the fact that there might be a murderer in the back seat, and you’re able to maintain your friendships. It’s a win-win.

Study

This may not be the most public-health friendly piece of advice, but it’s a total godsend. Traffic is inevitable, but standstill traffic makes me wish that the murderer in my backseat had actually plunged his knife into my head.

Make sure that there’s no police around to give you a ticket. Once you’re clear, pop out your notes and start crackin’. Your car acts as your own personal library minus the loud frat boys. I’ve learned everything from calculus to organic chemistry, all while driving to school. Granted, I’ve gotten into a few car accidents. Oops.

Change Clothes

This is a very fine art form only conducted by the most desperate of college students. If you’re pressed for time driving from school to work or vice versa, just change in the car! First, take off your shoes before you get in the car.

Keep your clothes in the passenger seat so it’s easily accessible. Put the car into cruise control and start undressing from the bottom and work your way up. No one really looks into the side windows of other cars, or do they?

Attend a Mini-concert

There’s a difference between live and studio recordings. Studio recordings are precisely edited to produce the smoothest sound possible, while live recordings include everything from background noise to spontaneous comments from the artist itself.

Take the studio recording of J. Cole’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive for example. The songs are finely tuned and rid of any imperfections. The live version however, includes commentary from J. Cole himself.

You can hear the screaming of the crowd and the fluctuations of tone in his rapping. Start from the beginning of the live recording and it’s like you’re hearing him perform “Wet Dreamz” straight out of the Hollywood Bowl. Spotify will become your best friend.

Eat

There are food wrappers and Ziploc bags all over the floor of my car. It’s hard to prioritize eating when there’s a paper due in the same hour that your mid-term begins.

Grab something easy to eat like a chicken wrap or a sandwich. As tempting as it sounds, don’t immediately go for the chili cheese double-bacon cheeseburger.

Get in the Carpool Lane

There is no shortage of shitty drivers on the freeway. Shitty drivers cause accidents that lead to the worst thing in the world, traffic, and occasionally my unbearable hatred for traffic causes me to go into the carpool lane.

It’s illegal and you can get a $300 fine, but arriving thirty minutes earlier is worth the risk. I’m a rebel with a cause.

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