With a global community in the heart of London, many of LSE’s students live in accommodation, having come from far and wide. For many, moving away from home is merely one part of their “university experience”.
But what about those of us who commute into London?
I’m going to be running you through a day in my life as a student who commutes from outside of London, and the pros and cons, so you can be sure that you make the right choice.
Day in my life
Living in Hertfordshire, the earliest I have to wake up is 5.30am (for an 8am class). After completing my morning routine, I then catch a lift to the train station, which takes about fifteen minutes by car. Once I reach the station (hopefully with little delays and a short wait for my first train), I put my headphones on and listen to music as I begin my commute.
Many commuters choose to be productive on a long journey, but my commute usually begins very early in the morning, running on very little sleep. There’s no pressure to do work if you’re not feeling like your best self!
I change trains three times during my journey, which involves a lot of walking, waiting, and changing lines. Once I finally reach Holborn station, I enjoy the 10-minute walk to campus. Not having accommodation close by means I spend a lot of my free time in between classes and lectures in the library, catching up on readings or meeting friends.
Sometimes I like to study in the library after my final class so that I can travel back home off-peak (where trains will be cheaper and less busy). This is a lot more exhausting in the winter months, when it gets dark quickly, and also demotivates me from studying (again, no pressure!).
Three changes and a lot of waiting later, I’m home.
Pros of commuting
You save a lot of money. You can also travel off-peak and get an Oyster card to save money.
You won’t get homesick. Staying at home means that I can indulge in the comforts of home, alongside the independence of university life. For me, this means I don’t miss out on big events back home (eg birthdays), have a nice variety of activities, and can catch up with friends from home, but I understand this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
It’s less stressful. Sometimes commuting can be stress-inducing, but staying in accommodation can be, too, with admin such as changing doctors or addresses for parcels. Your commute home can be a great opportunity to catch up on readings, listen to music, relax and unwind, and having that separation from university life and home life can help clear your mind.
Cons of commuting
It’s harder to make friends. Often you’ll find it harder to form groups and create strong connections in the early days, as you haven’t got a ready-made group of flatmates. You’re also not available 24/7, depending on how far you’re travelling from, and are less likely to meet people from other courses.
Public transport can be unreliable. Trains and buses can be stressful when they run behind, or are cancelled, or are completely full at peak-times. You should leave plenty of time to make it to your classes, and you may have to wake up earlier than your peers.
There are still expenses. Unlike your peers who might have a 15-minute walk into campus, you will either need to pay for a car, train, or bus, which can be costly, unlike those who have the university at their doorstep. However, there are many ways to travel for cheaper, including a railcard, season ticket or annual bus ticket.
Ultimately, you’ve just got to understand which one works best for you. Commuting isn’t for everyone, but for some, it can be far more rewarding than staying in accommodation.