When I was looking to go to university, I noticed that many of my friends were excited about the prospect of moving to a new city and the thought of immersing themselves into completely new surroundings.
But, after visiting many different universities and trawling through university prospectuses and web pages, I soon realised that I wasn’t prepared for that kind of experience. I wasn’t ready to move away.
Although a few people at my school in Wolverhampton wanted to commute to university, the majority wanted to move away.
This made me worried that I would be in the minority at university, that most of the people on my course would have moved into halls of residence where all the fun happened – movie nights, parties, etc. and friendships started.
But when I started my course, I soon realised that, actually, many people commuted to university. I wasn’t in the minority, I was in the majority.
I looked at a few universities in the Midlands, but I decided I wanted to go to Worcester after visiting an Open Day and taking an immediate liking to the city itself, and the friendly nature of the campus.
It was great for me the fact that Worcester was centrally located and with excellent road links and had two train stations that were served regularly from all across the West Midlands, and I could easily commute down the M5 or A449 by car.
I could either get a direct train from Smethwick Galton Bridge station to Worcester Foregate Street or get a short train from Wolverhampton to Birmingham and then travel onwards to Worcester.
When I did eventually learn to drive in my second year, I also had the luxury of being able to jump on the motorway and travel to University.
A worry for many prospective university students is that, by commuting, they will miss out on many aspects of student life.
However, I can certainly say that I didn’t find that I missed out at all. I was able to find friends, join societies and gain valuable work placements and found I could submerge myself as much as I wanted to in student life by sticking around on campus after lectures had finished.
One of the best things about commuting was the fact that I was able to try new things and have new experiences, but I was still able to enjoy all the comforts of home. I was able to maintain my friendship groups back home, still played for the same football team on a weekly basis and saved money by not having to pay for accommodation.
Not only did I maintain regular contact with all of my friends back home, but I was also able to build a whole new set of friends in Worcester, too.
Some of the friends that I made did live in Worcester, and I often stayed over at their flat or house. But I also found many of my friends also commuted from similar locations to me, and I often used to get the train with these people throughout my time at university.
It really helped to pass the time having a conversation and we were able to get on with any group work we had to complete as part of our studies.
I also noticed that, just because people decided to commute in the first year, the option to move away never disappears.
Many people may start with commuting, but find friends who they may wish to move in with during their time remaining a university. But others, like me, continue to enjoy their university life through commuting and continue to do so throughout their academic life.
Commuting allowed me to feel comfortable, but it also gave me freedom and confidence to go to university, speak to new people and enjoy new challenges; just as much as any other student.