I’ve always experienced sleepless nights before the first day of school. The mornings were much worse, I’d be plagued with a sense of uneasiness settling in the pit of my stomach. But the first day of university was different. Perhaps orientation removed some of the anxiety or maybe I lost it during my nearly two-hour commute from Brampton to campus like I did my T-Card, but for some reason, I was calm.
I remember stepping off the 101W bus onto the UTM campus with a feeling of peace.
During my evening classes, I never really felt the desire to socialize with my classmates. I would start packing my backpack within the last five minutes of class and dash out the door once class ended. My only goal was to get home. Sometimes I would pause at the door and glance at my classmates mingling about themselves. The pull to make friends was strong in those short, fleeting moments, but all I truly wanted was to catch the bus on time.
As I briskly walked to the bus stop, I realized there was more to it. By prioritizing my commute over my social life, I was missing the opportunity to be a part of something. My commute was creating both a physical distance and a social distance between myself and my classmates.
I was torn between the burden of feeling disconnected to the campus and my strong desire to start my commute home. But once the bus neared, the thought disappeared.
It is a strange thing to realize you can be in such close proximity with a stranger when riding the bus—so close you can identify the brand of their perfume—and simultaneously feel kilometers apart.
In the beginning, I spent most of my commute reading e-books and digital comics. And while I would have loved to sleep, I could never feel comfortable enough to sleep in front of strangers. Now I learned how to use my long commute time to my advantage. I do course readings and get a head start on assignments. Of course, I still sometimes indulge in recreational reading as well as watching TV shows and movies.
Over the summer I found my place within UTM’s social scene. While browsing on Facebook, I spotted a post recruiting executives and associates for UTM Scribes and I decided to apply. UTM Scribes, a creative writing club, allows UTM students a place to express themselves through writing. It sounded perfect for me.
I noticed that being a part of a community eased my instinctual desire to run. I think finding and connecting with people who share your interest helps shorten the social and physical distance between commuters and their classmates. Today, I find myself slowly regaining the sense of peace I felt when I first stepped off of MiWay two years ago.
At first commuting was a struggle, especially with early morning classes, but now the ride is much more enjoyable. Maybe the journey isn’t just about reaching the destination, but perhaps part of the joy of the journey is the seemingly mundane parts in between