Commuter Life: The 3 C’s

Commuters. They’re the people who drive slowly behind you while you walk through the Great Hill lot on your way to Moakely, hoping you’re walking back to your car so that they can take your parking space. They’re the people who walk around campus carrying multiple bags and an extra large Dunkin’ Donuts cup. They’re the people that get all the names of the residential buildings mixed up. They’re the people that make up most of this school’s population.

I happen to be one of these people and after commuting to Bridgewater for a little over the semester now, I have learned what I like to call the 3 C’s of commuter life: car, coffee, and career.

CAR

Transportation is essential to a BSC commuter. Whether it be by car, train, your friend’s car, or simply your own two feet, getting too and from Bridgewater is easily one of the biggest issues on campus. This section is mainly for the majority of students who drive their own cars to school. I don’t know if I’m the only person that’s realized this, but why are all the commuter lots in the most inconvenient and hard-go-get-to places?

First off, we have the Lower Great Hill lot (East campus) across the street from Crimson. This is a purely pedestrian-run parking lot, so unless you want to wait for 45 minutes while students non-chalantly walk to class not recognizing how much gas you’re wasting just sitting there, you should try to arrive/leave this lot about 20 minutes prior to a class block ending.

Then there’s the Spring Street lot: the closest commuters can get to West campus without paying for the Boyden lot parking pass (an extra $120 per semester). There’s a bus that runs through this lot pretty frequently, but don’t count on it stopping to let you on. I lost track of how many times it drove away while I was 20 feet from the door walking towards it. As you walk towards West campus from this lot, you have to cross a pretty awkward crosswalk that’s complete with rope fences and multiple signs telling you that you better use the crosswalk… or ELSE. Regardless, most people like to work some fun risks into their day and J-walk this busy road.

And of course, there’s my personal favorite lot: the Burnell (not the staff-only, but the student one). Since it’s the smallest commuter lot on campus, but located in the only spot that doesn’t require you to hike up a mountain for 10 minutes before making it to a class, getting a spot is competitive serious business. Beware of the blind spots and remember to keep a hand on your blinker. If you see an open spot and you’re within 20 feet of it, flash your blinker to ward off the other student drivers. Heck, I’ve even see carpoolers send one of their passengers out to stand in a spot in order to save it.

COFFEE

Call me crazy, but I don’t have a mealplan and I have never once eaten in a BSC cafeteria. I have nothing against the cafeterias and I’ve heard that the food is quite good, but as a commuter, it’s hard to find time between classes, homework, and my part-time job to enjoy a meal on campus. Plus, trying to meet up with both resident and commuter friends for lunch is nearly impossible since everyone is on a different schedule. This “coffee” not only refers to the bold, blended bean drink, but all forms of refreshment for commuters on the go.

So where/when do I eat? Unfortunately, whatever is on the way… which is usually a mixture of stuff packed from home, drive-thrus, and convenience stores. If you happen to take a ride down Spring Street and onto Route 18, you’ll notice that you are bombarded with every fast food chain known to man. This is not a good thing, and if you don’t gain your “freshman 15” in the school cafe, you’ll do it here. I’m not innocent, unfortunately. Apart from the unhealthy side of this, it also tends to burn a hole in your wallet.

CAREER

Even though the economy is a little shabby right now, a good percentage of commuters and residents alike have part time jobs. The only difference is that commuters jobs are often longer hours in harder-to-get-to places. For example, my commute is about 45-minutes to an hour one-way. My job is in my hometown, so in order to take classes, participate in campus life AND work 20 hours per week, I have to make a really busy, complicated schedule.

Commuters are forced to pick up 8am classes and night classes (which randomly cost $800 more, by the way) just so they can fit in a few hours of work. It’s hard, but we manage.

It’s kind of funny how there’s always that ONE commuter in one of your classes who hands in everything late simply because he/she “had to work last night.” Come on, you know who I’m talking about.

SO, WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

The truth is, none of these “issues” are life-threatening, and being given the option to commute is privilege, but since BSC IS mainly a commuter school, it only makes sense that steps could be made to help eliminate these issues. For example, in terms of parking, perhaps it’s time to switch around some of the signs- open up some normally-almost-empty faculty lots to commuters, maybe tell the buses to slow down a bit, and how about hiring some crossing guards to put at crosswalks during passing times? Food issue? Well, the “fast food circuit” is just something commuters will have to overcome on their own. Job scheduling problems? I suggest commuters should have first dibs on picking a few class slots- especially commuters who work 20+ hours per week. Also, I understand that night classes cost more because less professors and faculty are here after dark, but… $800? Seriously?

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5 Reasons Why Twitter is Perfect for the Busy College Student

I’ll admit it, like a lot of college students, I probably spend a lot more time than I should on the Internet.  Between Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, blogs, and e-mail, surfing the web takes up a lot of my time.  These things have revolutionized the way we communicate with each other, and I think that’s what the appeal is.  However, the service I love the most on the internet is Twitter.  A lot of people don’t give it the credit it deserves, but I think that it is the perfect way to send and receive information quickly and efficiently.  Some dismiss it as a glorified place to post Facebook-style status updates, but it’s a great way to stay connected to the rest of the world.

I also have my own blog, but I only update it sporadically or when I think of it.  Short updates like on Twitter are way easier for me to keep up with.  Now that I’m writing for the Campus Center Blog, I hope that it will help me in my own bad updating habits.  But for now, I think Twitter is the perfect social media agent for the lazy college student, like me. Here’s five reasons why:

1. It helps my family know what I’m up to. Especially now that I’ve gone away to college, my family likes to know what I’m up to.  I try to update my twitter at least once a day about something I’m doing or have been thinking about.  This way, it helps my mom know what I’m up to without having to call her every day.  The great thing is, people don’t have to create accounts to see my tweets; so, all my techno-phobe relatives have to do is google me, and they get my last few Twitter updates.

2. It’s a great news source! When I’m here at BSC, I feel like I live in a college “bubble”.  I never wake up early enough to watch the news in the morning, and when it’s on in the evening I’m always either doing homework, at a meeting, or hanging out with my friends.  This means that I have to put in serious effort if I want to keep up with what’s going on in the outside world.  Twitter makes following the news beyond easy.  Right in my stream of accounts I follow, I get updates from CNN, The Boston Globe, and Perez Hilton.  Because Twitter only allows you to post a maximum of 140 characters, all I have to do is read the headlines they post, and if I’m interested, I click on the links they provide and skim through the news articles.  It’s that easy.

3. Ever wonder what your favorite celebrities are up to? I do.  So, I follow people like John Mayer, Taylor Swift, Ashton Kutcher, and Ben Stiller.  It’s a more personal way to find out what your favorite celebs are up to than hearing it from the sleazy gossip magazines.  And sometimes if you’re lucky, they reply to fan’s tweets and answer questions!

4. Twitter is an easy way for you to voice your opinions! I know that I, like a lot of other students at Bridgewater, have a lot of strong opinions and ideas about a lot of things.  Maybe it’s just something you thought of on your walk to class, maybe it’s your reaction to the president’s State of the Union address.  Twitter is a great way to put your thoughts out there and get them heard!

5. It’s convenient. Like I said before, I prefer the short, to the point format of Twitter.  But another way it’s easy to use is that it can be updated from almost anywhere, not just a computer.  All I have to do is shoot a text with my tweet inside it to Twitter, and it updates it for me!  It’s the easiest way to share what you want, whenever you want!

How about you?  Do you use Twitter? Do you get it yet?  Or are you married to Facebook forever?

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Time for an Upgrade

This past September, I entered my freshman year at Bridgewater State College. Like all first time freshman, I entered school one giant ball of nerves and excitement. However, in just one semester at BSC, I learned more about myself than ever before. If I knew what I know now, I probably would have dealt with several situations much differently. The three most important lessons I learned are as follows:

Let go of the things you can’t control: As the proud driver of a 16-year-old vehicle, I realize the odds are against me in regards to car trouble….now. In the beginning of the semester, I thought my car would be just as reliable as it was for my junior and senior years of high school, but I forgot to take into account the fact I would driving 45 minutes to school, not 5. To my dismay, I had several weeks of car trouble in the beginning of the semester. I’ll spare the details, but it was an incredibly long ordeal full of arguing with AAA and my mechanic, crying, and money disappearing from my bank account. The reason my car troubles seemed so awful to me is because I am the type of person who must micro-manage and control every little aspect of their life. I had a hard time giving complete control of my car (and my money) over to the mechanic.. My car troubles taught me to let go of what I cannot control and deal with whatever happens. Throughout the ordeal, my mom kept reminding me that I was an adult, who was going to deal with adult problems. Now, I know the my mother’s advice is real; I AM an adult and I will have to face “adult problems” and deal with them without the help of others.

Quit planning so far ahead: I spent my high school years planning my college years. This may sound crazy, but it’s what I did. I knew (or thought I knew) what I wanted to be in my sophomore year. I started going on college visits in September of my junior year. I took my SATs and ACTs that June. Lastly, I applied early action to every college I applied to, and knew all of my acceptances by December. My academics and preparing college consumed me. The only time I socialized was either at crew practice or National Honor Society meetings (side note: I did have friends, I was just “too focused” to hang out with them outside of school). So going into the fall semester, I was ready to take all of my anthropology classes, graduate and go to grad school…or so I thought. I went into to first semester a public archaeology major, and I hated every minute of my archaeology class. Granted, I did what I had to do well in the class, but I realized that, in reality, archaeology is not as adventurous as Harrison Ford’s in Indiana Jones. I did not want to spent the rest of my life picking at plant remains. After heavy reflecting over break and looking into my real interests, I changed my major to political science. So, all of my planning and prematurely looking a grad schools in September was all for nothing. I learned to not plan so far ahead because in the end things don’t always go according to your big plan. I’m excited to see what possibilities open up with my new major in public administration and my minor in community leadership take me.

Stop over-analyzing every decision you make: I did involve myself in campus life this past semester, but it did not come easy for me. For example, in September, I noticed on BSC’s Involvement Network page a link to apply to be in OSIL’s (Office of Student Involvement and Leadership) Fall Leadership Institute. I applied and was accepted into the program. Part of the program required us to attend an open house to fill out a form and a get a better understanding of the program. I learned that there are  3 levels to the program: Level 1 entails listening to podcasts and filling out the guidebook, Level 2 entails both level 1 and being matched with a mentor, and lastly, Level 3 which entails both levels 1 and 2 along with completing a civic engagement project. I decided to sign up for level 3. For days, I agonized if it was the “right  thing” to do all three levels. Finally, I chose to do my project on suicide awareness and prevention because it was something I was truly passionate about. Of course, all things worked out in the end for me. I completed my project on time, people seemed to like it, I met a really great mentor, and learned a little about leadership. If I had let my over-analyzing get in the way as it has in the past, I would not have been able to carry out the things I did. As I enter the spring semester, I am more involved with the Social Justice League, work two jobs on campus, and applied to be a summer orientation leader. From this point forward, I am not going to let my doubts get in the way of  the things I want to do.

For any first time freshman, it is difficult trying to adjust to your new surroundings and find your place on campus. My first semester taught me that to carry out anything in life, I need to go with flow. I need to forget the things I cannot control, don’t plan to far ahead so I can enjoy my years here, and never over-analyze most of the decisions I make. I’m sure many freshman were in the same boat the “Old” Kayla. I grew to realize that my college will be some of the best times I have in life, so why not make the most of it.

How about you?  What would you tell your September 2009 self?

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Hello world!

Please pardon our dust as we build our new blog!  We hope to share student stories on what it is like to be a Commuter Student at BSC as well as what it means to build a campus community in the Campus Center.  We are psyched at our possibilities!

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