Commuting to UCD is a struggle for most students, but not all students have a 117 minute commute like Ruth Ennis. She recounts her experience of travelling to UCD every day, and what makes it worth it.
I’ve lived in the same house for the past 15 years of my life in a numbingly beautiful rural area. I’m not quite placed in the middle of the boglands or surrounded by dozens of farms enclosing hundreds of cattle. I do, however, live surrounded by large, imposing fields, near a few detatched neighbours. The house is on a sturdy but quiet road in a lovely area I am glad to call home.
I commute an average four days a week (an improvement from my five day week in first year) from my home to UCD. That journey takes an estimated two hours every day. I wake up a half hour, the latest, before I leave the house. I am lucky to have a dedicated mother to drive me for ten minutes to the nearest bus stop. I get the first stop of my first bus onto Nassau Street, taking an hour and ten minutes. Then we, myself and the countless other students I frequently meet in the city centre get the first bus we see to UCD, usually taking thirty minutes. I am not in the slightest bit ashamed to admit I cling desperately onto the hope that the 145 that goes over the bypass into the campus road will appear magically, in order to escape that dreaded two-minute-longer walk into the college. Seeing as I am one step away from living in the student centre of UCD, the walk takes an average of five minutes (seven minutes if I decide to wear heels). 117 minutes from my front door to the entrance of a campus building.
The commute is a practicality. I fought tooth and nail against its existence for the majority of my first year, and still do fantasise about having the superpower of teleportation. The ever-increasing bus fares act as a painful reminder that it is still cheaper than digs or on-campus accommodation. Ironically, I would rather save this money to travel in the future; just hopefully not with Dublin Bus.
I don’t deny that getting up at 6am for a 9am lecture causes me to question the sadism of my education. I don’t deny that it infuriates me to no end that I am expected to remain punctual for a class two hours away from me, whilst those who live on campus fail to make it to their third lecture. I don’t deny that I spend as much time on campus as I can to make the commute worthwhile, resulting in the occasional thirteen hour days away from home. I don’t deny that I despise the commute. But I also don’t deny it is worth every single second of it.
I am lucky enough to study an arts degree that summarises what I want to do for the rest of my life. I am so lucky that I can travel to study what I genuinely love learning about every single day, rather than settling for a course, 10 minutes from my house in a subject I know I will detest in my thirties. I am lucky to have the chance to travel to a college that is incredibly privileged, from its education standards to its treatment of its students. I am lucky to love what I do with my college years.
I have good friends who repeatedly let me stay in their Dublin homes so I can experience the typical student nights out. I am lucky to be heavily involved with such a brilliant society (or five) that give me cause and inspiration to work beyond my degree. I have made memories that I can reflect fondly upon during the bus journey home.
I am lucky for a number of reasons that make the commute worth it. I come home to my darling cat and dog every day, who I would miss beyond belief (if you live away from home, you will understand that their welcome home is so worth it). I come home to home cooked meals every day in my desperate attempts to avoid pizza takeaway. I am lucky to come home and hear the silly, funny stories of my family in person, which are never quite the same on WhatsApp. I get to go home to my own bed, only to be rudely wakened by the dog the next morning.
The age-old question does pop up frequently; which is better, the city or the countryside? If I’m honest, I would learn towards the city life, solely based on the fact that it is a relatively new concept to me. But I love my rural home and return to it for good reason. It is my home and this is the unchangeable fact that no amount of frozen yoghurt will tempt me to abandon.