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Carless commuters: Catching the train, throwing the dollar

By Andrea VegaSpecial to the Chronicle

Early mornings, late nights, expenses, food, housing and employment. Very little is known about the elusive public transportation commuters, probably because most of them so quickly disappear into the distance to catch a train.

Members of this population of Hofstra students need to know that they are not alone in the commute pursuit. As we grow accustomed to college life, the omnipresent obligations and worries become easier to conquer, but some kinks still remain.

As a public transportation commuter, every saved dollar has a meaningful purpose. Transportation is an expected everyday expense, but others are not so predictable. Hofstra food is unbelievably pricey, so not preparing food at home or not packing enough can dent your bank account in no time. Even emergency buys like that book you thought you wouldn't need or that calculator that you forgot on a day when you needed it most may seem like a big sacrifice on such short notice.

Extracurricular involvement also proves to be a struggle for students who commute via public transportation. Many clubs meet late, and participating in those clubs could mean getting home at 1 a.m. or later. If the Hofstra shuttle isn't available when you need it late at night, is it really worth it to spend money on an unreliable Long Island taxi?

And if you live particularly far away, where do you fit homework and studying in when you wake up before the crack of dawn to catch your ride and get home exhausted? Unlike those with the personal haven of a car for storing extra belongings, you need to strategically stuff all of your things into a bag and lug it around campus.

It hurts to miss a majority of campus events because they are too late, and it feels unfulfilling to not always participate in the way that you want. At what point do public transportation commuters feel like interlopers in a place that they thought with all their heart would be their home?

For a first-time public transportation commuter, the looming lack of the latter can make him or her feel intensely isolated, and stress may build as a result of issues kept silent. So wake up! Your life shouldn’t revolve around a public transportation schedule. You control your own schedule.

Know how long you can spend studying or doing homework at Hofstra. Identify which clubs you have time to be in, and communicate with club presidents about how long you can stay. Take note of what time you get home each day, and figure out what you can do to ready yourself for the next day. Choose to buy affordable, sustainable and healthy meals, but don’t just eat when you absolutely have to; even a hardy dinner does not compensate for a horrible breakfast and a light lunch. Literally put pencil to paper, and write down how much time and money you can spend.

Fight for the reason that you chose to attend Hofstra. It’s tough to be a public transportation commuter, but there are thousands enduring the same struggle that you’re enduring. Don’t be the one to give up.

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