A Day in the Life: Commuter Student Edition

By Briana Vetter

Hi, I’m Briana. I’m a senior political science major, and my fun fact is that I’m a commuter student.

So, yeah, maybe that’s not the best fun fact. But I’m applying to law school right now, so can you cut a girl a break? 

Temple was once a university catered to commuters, but over the past three decades, more and more students have chosen to live on or near campus while an undergrad, including me––I lived in the 1940 Residence Hall during my freshman year. 

I made great friends and had a memorable experience. But when it came time to sign the lease for my sophomore year apartment, I just couldn’t do it. I grew up so close to Temple, and to me, it didn’t feel right to pay $12,000 to live here.

I started commuting in Fall 2017. Every day is a little different, but here is a typical Thursday for me this semester.

7:30 a.m.

I wake up! After about five separate alarms, I roll out of bed and head straight to my bathroom, where I brush my teeth and wash my face. Back in my bedroom, I start my makeup and get dressed.

8:34 a.m.

I leave for the train. My house is about a six-minute walk from the train station in my neighborhood, which usually isn’t bad––unless it’s still 90 degrees in October (thanks, climate change).

Photo Credit: Briana Vetter

Photo Credit: Briana Vetter

8:43 a.m.

I board the train. Hello, quiet ride car. The 27-minute train ride to campus is my time to listen to my favorite podcast––right now it’s “My Favorite Murder”––or I listen to my fall playlist, which consists of Kim Petras’ and Charli XCX’s new albums. 

9:10 a.m.

I arrive at the Temple train station. Okay, it’s more like 9:18 a.m., because SEPTA cannot seem to get it together. Either way, I’m either slightly early or just on time for my 9:30 a.m. Capital Punishment class. Sometimes, I stop at Saige Cafe for a nitro cold brew, but since it’s $5 for a small (rude), I usually bring an iced coffee from home.

12:20 p.m.

I finish both of my morning classes. If you didn’t already notice, I haven’t had anything to eat yet, so I’m usually pretty hungry. I head to Honeygrow to buy an $11 salad, because I’m a Gen Z-er, and that’s just what we do. 

12:50 p.m. 

After lunch, I head to the seventh floor of Gladfelter, for my 2 p.m. capstone class. I sit on the couch near the elevators and complete my readings for class, send some emails, or write in my planner. I try to do most of my schoolwork at school because I’m most productive when I’m there and in an academic mindset. 

Photo Credit: Briana Vetter

Photo Credit: Briana Vetter

3:20 p.m.

My capstone ends and I’m finished class for the day. Sometimes, if I’m super lucky, my professor lets us out at 3:15 p.m. and I can make it onto the 3:22 p.m. train back home. Most of the time, I have to wait until the 3:59 p.m. train. 

4:30 p.m.

I walk into my house and immediately get dressed for work. I’m a server at a local-ish restaurant. After I throw on my uniform, I hop in the car and drive for about 10 minutes to my job, where my shift starts at 5 p.m. 

10:00 p.m.

I work in a restaurant, so the end of my shift is unpredictable. But on a typical Thursday night, I usually walk in the door around 10 p.m. I eat some dinner, shower, and get in bed. I try to work ahead so that on nights I work, I don’t have any schoolwork to do. If that’s the case, I relax with an hour-long binge on Bon Appétit Magazine’s Youtube channel. If you’ve never watched it, start. Life. Changing. 

12:00 a.m.

I try to fall asleep before midnight. 

Super exciting, I know. Although we live in a hustle culture, where young people are obsessed with displaying for Instagram how #BookedAndBusy they are, I can’t sit here and pretend my hectic days don’t suck. They drain me, physically and mentally, and often I wish that I lived and worked closer to campus. 

I have a life at Temple and a life at home, and the lack of overlap makes me feel as though I’m not present in my own life. I am constantly conscious of the time and what I have to do next.

Still, commuting has never held me back from being successful at Temple. I’m in student organizations, I have leadership positions, I’m a research assistant in the political science department, and I’ve never had to take an 8 a.m. That is peak success.

I love school. I love learning, I love my friends, I love my major. And when I’m not at school, I live rent-free and I get to see my parents, my siblings, my nephews, my niece, and my boyfriend. 

Sometimes it’s hard, but what more could this Owl ask for?