Inside the Mind of a NDNU Commuter

Every morning before school, I wake up to sit in my freezing car and contemplate the risk-benefit factor of actually making it to class that day or shamefully crawling back into bed. As a commuter, I have faced different and rather lonely obstacles than those of my resident peers. Not to say that residents have a simpler academic lifestyle than us commuters, but instead have certain benefits that we envy. I have fantasized about mornings where I could slide out of bed and walk to class only a minute or two away. Where I could leave books in my room that I would need for a later class that day instead of wearing a brave face to mask back pain. But unfortunately, in addition to heavy backpacks, many Notre Dame de Namur (NDNU) commuters and I have to accept the consequences of forgetting homework, god forbid a laptop charger, at home. These minor nuances have embedded themselves into our daily lives and we accept the life as a commuter.

Traffic alone can be its own topic. Notre Dame is smack dab in the middle of three other major schools: Notre Dame High School, Carlmont High School and Ralston Middle School. These schools are “conveniently” located at the bottleneck of every major commuter entrance (I-280, Hwy. 101 & Alameda de las Pulgas). Some might find sitting in traffic a good time to reflect on life and contemplate “what it’s all about.” But those who calculate exactly how long it will take them to get to class down to the very second, find themselves cursing the geniuses behind the infrastructure and mumbling to themselves how much of a better job they would have done if put to the task. But nothing beats that feeling when your academic day has ended and the start of your engine ignites the Indy500 driver in you to get home, eat and throw on some Netflix. But before you are able to finally overindulge in comfort, commuters must face the dreaded exit out of campus. This death trap has us waiting for the right moment to put the pedal to the metal and hope that we don’t get T-boned by some driver rushing to get home themselves.

“I feel that I risk my life at that left turn out of school. It’s a joke. There needs to be a traffic light there,” said fellow commuter and senior Nick Sanzeri.

We may not have a traffic light to guide us through that intersection, but we do have our cunning and experienced ability to know exactly when to cut someone off.

Traffic plays a large role in the commuter lifestyle, but so does company, or lack there of. As commuters, our sole purpose is to get to school, find parking, sit in class then leave campus as soon as possible. This routine does not leave much time for student interaction, school spirit or team building. If lucky enough to have your fellow commuter friend(s) on a similar schedule as you, lunch is generally spent alone. Many have found themselves snacking in their car, eating alone in the cafeteria or staring at their phones at a bench somewhere between St. Mary’s and Cuvilly. The nearby eateries have been a safe haven for many students, but leaving campus in between classes only results in a debate on whether or not your parking spot is worth giving up for that non fat vanilla latte you’re craving.

“I have been at this school for several years and recognizes many people. But because of my detachment as a commuter, I hardly interacted on a personal level with anyone,” said fellow commuter and senior Amanda Deoliviera.

For those who have found themselves surrounded by familiar faces yet still feel singled out, you are not alone. You are not the only one without a meal plan or have multiple parking tickets. There are far more fellow commuters than you know. Those of us who avoid eye contact with our headphones in can oddly spot the fellow commuter. But instead of sitting alone in the quad, we should engage in conversation with one anther and relish in the fact that we at least have a home nearby.


Commuter Gwen Nordeman shows off her NDNU parking pass from inside the car she commutes to campus. Photo by Gwen Nordeman.

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