Commuter student hacks

Student Communications Ambassador, Georgia Stride, shares her experience of being a commuting student at Bath Spa.

As a student who lived at home for my undergraduate degree, I naturally became a commuting student. I live in the middle of nowhere so being environmentally friendly and using public transportation or cycling were never viable options. However, I do own a low emissions car, and on a good day with no traffic, I can be at university in twenty minutes. Commuting for me has never been an issue and I want to share with you a few hacks I’ve learnt during my time as a commuter to make your lives a little less stressful.

Leave early

It’s true, Bath Spa has a lot more parking spaces than my sixth form college, but there are also considerably more students at university, and staff use the parking spaces too. There just aren’t enough parking spaces for every student that has a car. Having said this, even if the car park is full, after driving around for a few minutes, someone is likely to leave. Of course, this isn’t ideal but I turned looking for a parking space into a positive. If you're able to arrive around an hour before your lecture or seminar, this leaves you a good amount of time to search for somewhere to park and the chances of someone leaving after an earlier class are fairly high. If you do find a space straight away, you could take advantage of the extra time you have and do some extra preparation for your class.

Treat university like your job

This might not work for everyone, but I found applying a ‘9-5’ mentality to my studies productive and helpful. It meant I could maintain a healthy work-life balance and keep my evenings free for relaxing and preparing for the next day. When the new study spaces opened in Main House at Newton Park this year, I found this approach easier to maintain. I would drive into university in the morning, spend my free periods in Main House and attend my lectures and seminars as required. I would then leave around 5pm when Main House closes for the day, feeling productive. Doing this also allowed me to use my car less and avoid the stress of trying to find a parking space several times a day. Although it was tempting to pop home for lunch or the rest of the afternoon, I wouldn’t be as productive as I was when I studied at university because there were too many ways I could procrastinate! I was also being respectful to the environment by not making multiple journeys every day. I know this approach won’t work for everyone but it provided me with a routine and made my commute as environmentally friendly as possible.

Buses aren’t that bad...

In my second year, I had a slightly more demanding part-time job and would hop on the University bus, Tesco meal deal in hand as I quickly ate, flustered from changing in the staff bathroom after finishing my shift at 12pm and praying I made my 1pm lecture. I did manage it somehow but this is not a lifestyle I would recommend. I have to say here that although buses aren’t always on time, I found the University buses to be fairly consistent and they essentially saved my education every Monday for the best part of an academic year. I bought a day ticket which means unlimited travel for the day and it was a lot cheaper than parking in the centre of Bath. The Unibus is perfect for commuting from Newton Park into the city centre and on a good day with no traffic, it only takes fifteen minutes. The buses also run late into the evening so if there’s an event in Bath that you want to attend but don’t want to take your car, the Unibus is a safe, reliable method of transportation.

Research payment for parking

At Bath Spa, you need to pay to park on the premises. It’s worth mentioning here before I go any further, that there are restrictions for student parking. If you live in the postcodes BA1-1, BA1-2, BA1-3, BA2-3 and BA2-9, then you can’t park on any campus unless you have a disability. However, these postcodes regularly have unibuses driving nearby and you’ll still be able to commute (and you won’t have the hassle of parking!).

There are two parking permit options available. A permit that covers you for one academic year costs £120 and if you commute to university five days a week during the semester, this works out at around a pound a day to park. This is the option I preferred as it allowed me to come and go as I pleased and as I spent a lot of time on campus, it made financial sense. However, if you live further away, or don’t need to be at university every day, you can park on campus for the day for only £1. There is a one off payment of £10 and then it’s £1 every time you park on campus with a pay and display ticket. Simple! There are also different permits available such as a disabled student permit and a student car share parking permit. Make sure to do your research to find the best permit and payment method for you.

New space for students living off campus

And finally, Bath Spa has some exciting news for commuters, (little imaginary drum roll please...) a brand new space designed specifically for commuting students (but open to all!) has opened for the start of this academic year. The new space will be located on the top floor of the Refectory building at Newton Park and will include microwaves to heat your lunch, kitchen space to prepare and wash up your things after you’re finished and also lockers so you don’t have to carry your things around all day. The space doesn’t have a name yet but that’s where we come in. The University will be asking Bath Spa students to name the new space, designed for us and named by us. So, be sure to watch this space! No? Terrible joke? Yeah, my cat thought so too. I’m just erm, yep I’m off.

Seating area with facilities to make food

I hope my hacks have been useful to any new commuters, and maybe even seasoned commuters too. See you on campus!

Disclaimer: The Bath Spa blog is a platform for individual voices and views from the University's community. Any views or opinions represented in individual posts are personal, belonging solely to the author of that post, and do not represent the views of other Bath Spa staff, or Bath Spa University as an institution.



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