The personal cost of commuting

You’re doing your best to sleep right now, but somehow you never seem to be the right height for these head rests. You try to strain your neck upwards, but it doesn’t help, so you let your neck loll forward. The only problem is now the girl beside you is playing music so loudly you can hear each individual lyric through her earphones. Someone behind you leans their knees up against the back of your seat, jabbing you painfully. Most people are chatting away to their friends at this stage. What, you might very well wonder, were you thinking when you decided to commute to college?

There are many benefits when it comes to commuting. You’re saving your parents a lot of money, and you see your family the whole week round, rather than just one or two days on the weekend. Moreover, if you’re a mammy’s boy you probably have dinner cooked for you and your clothes washed. However, the oppressive schedule of the buses and the drain of having nowhere to go but a cold common room can crush even the most optimistic commuter. Nights out are another difficulty altogether, with many first years missing out on their first shift in the Roost because they have nowhere but the 24-hour McDonald’s to stay in. At the end of the day most students reconcile themselves to commuting for at least one year of their degree, and wheedle their way into finding a place for the rest of their education.

Maynooth has a high percentage of students who commute, and many face the same problems. While the train service is frequent and reliable, anyone who lives outside Dublin relies on private buses who make one or two journeys a day. These private services often charge exorbitant rates for a non-weekly ticket, with a return from Navan to Meath costing 20 euro. In order for all students to be able to access these buses they run at polar opposite times during the day. This means that many people wake up at 7 o’clock, and don’t get home until 7 that evening. Understandably this leaves little room for any extra-curricular activities, or even study after dinner has been eaten. More often than not, students collapse into bed, sleeping until their next 7 am alarm goes off in the morning.

Yet there are mornings when commuting might not be the drudgery we expect it to. By the time your second semester has passed you might have made a few friends on the bus, and you might even find the morning drive through the fields of sheep relaxing. Reading, podcasts and YouTube videos all make the time go by faster, and you’ll find you actually look forward to an hour of decompression on the bus. That is, until someone decides to stick their knees into the back of your chair again.