College life is like no other – gone are the days of being told what to do by parents and teachers, you now have control to do what you want, when you want. But what happens when that isn’t the case?
The population of a university can be broken into two separate and very distinct groups; commuters and those who live on or near campus. One half misses a lot of the most memorable aspects of college life, while the others are able to immerse themselves into the complete college experience.
When talking about college memories it’s rare that a person talks about the lectures they attended, but rather the clubs and societies’ events and trips instead. Being a commuter puts a strain on the ability to attend these events, and a recent DCU graduate, Andrew Canavan, who had to do a 110km round trip each day to get to and from college makes a point of this.
“Having to commute didn’t make socialising in college impossible but it certainly was a challenge. The long commutes in and out, and being late so often meant I physically couldn’t attend many of the events or plans [that] I made with friends. Because I lived so far away it meant that often I couldn’t stay out past 11 at night because I’d have to go and catch the last bus home,” he said.
Not only is a student’s social life affected by commuting, but so too is their education. On the worst days Canavan would spend up to five hours travelling and he said that long distance commutes “didn’t help impressions with my lecturers or classmates [because] I would often be ridiculously late or even absent from my lectures completely” despite leaving his house at around 6am each morning”.
Canavan said that he wanted to live near university, but the price of renting was just too high even with the money provided by his SUSI grant. He noted that if he didn’t have to commute his actual time spent in college might have been: “A completely different college experience. Being closer to college would [have meant that] I’d have more time not only to study but [I’d] actually be available to spend time with friends. It would have made everything easier.”
Students definitely benefit from living close to their university, both for their mental and physical well-being. A final year student, Áine Conaty, moved into campus accommodation this year and says that only three weeks into the semester the difference between now and previous years is apparent.
She says that living on campus is: “Helping me to save money because I’m now able to cook at home. Before I didn’t have time to make food. I’m now finding it easier to get college work done – I feel like I’ve a better head-space because I’m not running everywhere to get things done.”
Deputy Podcast Editor