I’m sitting here, on the train from Bournemouth to Southampton, and as I sit I’m becoming increasingly paranoid that I could be sitting on a seat filled with another humans urine and I’m only going to realise when I get up and feel the dampness on my buttocks.
It’s been known to happen, and it certainly follows my streak of bad luck, like that time I walked out of the toilet with tissue stuck to my shoe – which was again, in the train station, and only an elderly man had the decency to try and protect my dignity and tell me before it was too late. Except it was too late as I had already walked the full length of the platform.
Which reminds me of that time I foolishly rode my bike along the platform to save time, and resulted in a full-blown announcement being blared out of the speakers at my expense. I can still hear the words ringing in my ears: “PLEASE DO NOT RIDE YOUR BIKE ON THE PLATFORM. Customers are warned that riding a bicycle on the platform is a criminal offence and may be charged if caught doing so” – have you ever seen a person ride their bike along the platform before? No, neither have I. My cheeks are burning as I write this.
And as I regain consciousness back to present day as I travel through Brockenhurst, I realise that I don’t know why I am pouring out all my failures as a human on this paper to you. To let you know that you’re not alone – or maybe to convince MYSELF that I am not alone and there are others who may sympathise with me. I hope.
Anyway back to the point: my daily commute. Southampton to Bournemouth. The horror. South West Trains have served me dearly over the past year a half – at a bloody steep price. £12 a day, complete with a 75 pence booking fee from thetrainline.com.
So I am going to offer you a few tips on how to prepare for commute expenses and planning your journey. But before I start you must know about railcards. The 16-25 railcard costs £30 for a year and they can get you up to a third off your train fee for journeys after 10AM so are really worth the purchase. However, if you open a 1,2,3 student current account with Santander they give you a free one worth 4 years!
Another tip is to check out the trainline.com or the nationalrail.co.uk. Although there is a booking fee for tickets, the train tickets of thetrainline.com offer journeys from Bournemouth to Southampton £2 cheaper than the tickets you can buy from the ticket office at the station. So take a look and see if this works out for your journey. Furthermore, booking the night before can save precious pennies too!
When working out the costs of ticket fees, first you need to work out how much your return train ticket is daily. Then look at how many days you are required to attend university and work out how much this will cost you for the week. Once you have a weekly fee worked out, times this amount by the amount of weeks in a semester, which is usually twelve. My final train fees work out to be just short of £400 per semester. GEEZ.
You might think commuting will take a lot of time out of your day, but if you are traveling by train there is still time to get work done during the commute. Before now I have grown tired of my excessive people-watching and have been forced to read some of my set texts which has worked out to be quite rewarding. So there are positives to this seemingly all negative event.
Also, it’s surprising how much independence you can gain knowing that you know how to catch a train. Think of the possibilities post-uni and all the travelling you can accomplish. It is also important to remember that you are not alone in this mission to get where you need to go. There are plenty of people who have never caught a train in their life, and you will witness them wandering around the train station looking gormless and dumbfounded which should give you a little pride and self-confidence within yourself.
With this in mind, you can expect to bump into individuals of a grumpier nature that will not be polite, rushing onto the train and knocking everyone in their path to get a seat of their choice. Some even put their bags on the seat next to them to prevent anyone sitting there and refuse to move them even when the train is full! However, when somebody finally loses their patience, there is nothing quite like witnessing an argument between commuters which makes the journey all the more worthwhile!
So, public transport is a hell of an experience and is one most students will have to go through. Therefore do not shy away but embrace the feeling of acting like a grownup because as a student this will be the cheapest time in your life to do so!