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For many freshers, the decision to commute to university whilst living off campus seems not only impracticable but altogether ludicrous. Others, myself included, embraced the alternative to the pricey on-campus accommodation, hoping to save the pennies in the long run. But deciding to stay at home and commute proved trickier than I thought. Leaving aside the financial benefits of commuting, the implications of an off-campus existence needed weighting up. What about the student experience?
Sociable by nature and like many of the newbies eager to settle into university life fast, I was on the lookout for friends and people to socialize with, preferably outside lecture halls and seminar hours. But with the communal transport system showing no consideration for my socials, I was often the first one to leave the party.
Still, I soon realized that by planning my social events in advance, commuting wasn't that big an issue anymore. Joining societies also helped, because apart from brushing up on my salsa moves, I got to meet new people.
However, there was no way around the actual commute. Morning lectures and a daily 30- min cycle to Leeds train station, followed by a 30 to 40 min train journey, and then by another 15 min on the number 44 to the university, didn't mix well. Commuting gradually became physically demanding and time consuming.
This was not to say that it didn't work as an incentive to carry out my assignments whilst still at the university, either during lecture gaps or coffee breaks. When friends living on campus spent precious time cooking or catering for their needs, I spent my evenings enjoying mum's cooked meals in the comfort and privacy of my home.
But after one year, I realised commuting just wasn't for me. Even though I was still able to study effectively, socialize and spend considerably less money than my York based peers, I still felt I was missing out on the student life. I longed for the independence and the sense of responsibility that came along with it. So whilst today I continue to live off campus, what it used to be a 26 mile commute is now a mere 15 min bike ride from York city centre.
Lots of people choose to live at home when they start uni, and with college rents at between £4000 and £7000 per year who can blame them. Despite the practical difficulties, Sorina's experience shows it can be done.
After first year everyone moves out of college anyway, so if your parents live in York it's very viable, but your social life may be affected if you live further afield. Colleges are the heart and soul of first year, so even if you do live nearby you may find yourself missing out on some of your best times at uni.