University is the one time in your life where you are rich and poor at the same time. The Government is giving you thousands every year but before you can blink, it’s gone again! For me, commuting was the most affordable option.
It was also the only option as my student loan wouldn’t even touch the rent in the pricey city that Cambridge is (but let’s not get into the politics of that).
Obviously, commuting is not for everyone. You may want to experience independent living whatever the cost or find yourself having to take a carefully planned itinerary of trains and buses to make your 9am to even make commuting viable.
I wanted to share my experiences of commuting with you to aid those sitting on the fence about it but also to inspire others to take up commuting with my commuting pros and cons!
PRO #1 - It saves you a lot of money
A year of train tickets!
There's no denying that commuting can save you a fortune. In my first year, I spent just under £1000 on commuting for the whole year which saved me over £5,000 based on the cost of the cheapest student accommodation in Cambridge. This has allowed me to save some money towards my future goals!
Travelling in peak time can be expensive but the 16-25 Railcard will be your friend. You will also really appreciate afternoon lectures when the trains are considerably cheaper!
Pro #2 - It gives you more time to study!
I had a train journey of around an hour each way during my first year of university and it is definitely something I miss now my journey involves the car! I used to get particularly bored on my train journeys and started to use the time for studying or reading up about anatomy for the lecture that morning. I was super grateful for the extra study time whether I was mastering a body system in an hour or writing up the day's lecture notes so I could have more time to relax in the evenings!
Pro #3 - It REALLY works for students on placement
My course has a heavy clinical aspect. We spend 50 weeks over the three years of my degree in a hospital. As places are limited in the Cambridge area (for Healthcare Science!) many of us end up being placed in the peripheral hospitals which involves commuting and possibly temporary rent ON TOP of the current Cambridge rent.
I was lucky enough to secure a placement at my local hospital which allowed me to save a lot of money. The best aspect by far is coming home after a long day at placement to dinner cooked by my parents which I really appreciate! In my final year, I only spend a crazy six weeks at university so commuting will be very economic!
Cons #1 - Trains are often a bit irritating (as are buses!)
There is nothing worse than sweating it out in traffic in a bus when you need to be in a lecture by 9am or getting to the station and finding that all of your trains have been cancelled.
This does not happen all the time but when it does, it is unnerving! HOWEVER, the saving grace is definitely the delay repay service- disjointed journeys are a tiny bit better when they’re free.
Cons #2 - Commuting doesn’t always work out with your schedule - it can be a lot of waiting around
Ironically, when this photo was taken my train was then cancelled and I had to wait around for an hour!
In my first year I used to arrive insanely early to 9am lectures and have to hang around for an hour after lectures until my next train (one train per hour problems). I found this tedious at times but I was able to use the time constructively and fit in more study time. I partly owe my academic success to this! Plus it gives you more free time.
Con #3 - Sometimes your social life does suffer
A lot of events tend to happen later in the evening as do some society meetings but let’s not forget the all-important Freshers' Week too which is a bit of an inconvenience when you commute. I’m definitely not a socialite so this has never bothered me (my placement doesn’t really allow for this either!) but be assured, there will always be a later train or a spare bed/ floor or even a Travelodge at hand!
All things considered, university is a time where you can make it your own so you should be happy with whatever path you choose- living in or commuting! I hope that my experiences can at least give you an insight into commuting and whether it would work for you!
If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below!