A day in the life of a commuter

Valentina Vlasich, BA Film and Media with Foundation Year student, commutes from Milton Keynes for her work and lectures at Birkbeck. In this blog, she offers advice to other students commuting and explains why living outside of London is the perfect solution for her.

The streets of Bloomsbury, London

Bloomsbury, London

Commuting to university, a total nightmare according to some. A waste of time according to others. But living in the heart of London can be expensive, so many of us don’t have any other option but to commute. The issue, I believe, is that there are many misconceptions about commuting. For instance, that you can’t have a social life, that you must spend hours on a train or that you won´t have a true university experience if you do it. All of this, according to my experience, is not true. So let me give you some tips on how to make the best use of your day and money, and show you what a typical day looks like for me, a commuter in my first year of university.

My day starts in Milton Keynes. I try to get up as early as possible to fit in my workout routine and get ready. If I have the time in the morning I also catch up on lectures and take notes for my next class. When the time comes to go to the train station, I cycle there which takes me 10 minutes, and I usually take the train at noon, which gets me to London in about 40 minutes. A great tip for commuters who take the train is to check out the National Rail Railcards, which reduce your travel costs by a substantial amount. For example, I bought the railcard for 16 to 25-year-olds, which cost £70 and it saves me a third on rail fares for the next three years. Another hack is to get on trains that are off-peak or super-off-peak because they are cheaper, you can check this out on the Trainline website. When I arrive at Euston Station it’s only a 10-minute walk to my work which is at Birkbeck. After that, I usually have about two to three hours before my classes begin at 6pm.

So, what do I do in my spare time in London? Well, a lot of things, but my top recommendations, which aren’t far away from Birkbeck, are the following: the British Museum, which is just around the corner; Chinatown, which is a great area to enjoy a variety of food; and, if you don’t mind a little walk, Southbank has a great vintage book market that I love. Sometimes, when I have a lot of time to spare, I plan my day and visit a Picturehouse cinema or a theatre in Soho with a friend. And for those lazy days, I just grab a coffee and sit in Russell Square reading a book (it’s also a good park to have an outside workout). After that, I head to my classes.

Most of my classes are three hours long, so when I finish it’s already dark outside. Sometimes I head straight to Euston Station and go home, other times I stay for a while in London and go to a pub with my friends. There are also many nightclubs in London to check out. However, when it is one of those days when I go home earlier, I tend to take advantage of my time on the train and complete homework.

As you can see, commuting isn’t the end of the world. It even helps me make the most out of London because not living there makes it more exciting to visit. It also forces me to have a more established routine and helps me make the most out of my day. Therefore, from one student to another, I wouldn’t worry too much about commuting, it is part of the experience. Just enjoy your years at university and make the most out of every situation.

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