I Actually Love my Commute! Stuyppreciates #1

Commuting to school is often regarded as the worst part of a student’s day, but some students have taken measures to change this mindset.

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Stuyvesant students hail from all five boroughs of New York City. Whether their commute entails a five-minute walk or riding the Long Island Railroad (LIRR), subway, bus, tram, or ferry, many Stuyvesant students find that their winding and time-consuming journeys to school are detrimental to their moods for the rest of the day.

Long commutes are often regarded as troublesome. This mindset is understandable—waking up an hour or two earlier to commute is not the ideal situation for any teenager, let alone Stuyvesant students—who notoriously get little sleep to begin with. Arriving at school late because of traffic or train delays can sour an already stressful day.

However, with these irritable commutes come memorable experiences that students can learn to cherish. Some students find the positive in their commutes and value the unexpected situations that arise on their way to and from school; they can even lead to lasting memories, which are arguably worth the concurrent struggles. 

Sophomore Hannah Moon

 Sophomore Hannah Moon lives in Queens and rides the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) for the first leg of her school commute. She then transfers to the one, two, or three train and rides it to Chambers Street, which takes forty minutes to an hour. Moon’s first commute was distressing to say the least, especially for a freshman navigating the city’s chaotic stations for the first time. “A memory I have is taking the wrong train on the first day of ninth grade. While this wasn’t enjoyable at the time, it’s a funny experience to look back on,” Moon admitted. She used this experience as a means to hold herself accountable and become more independent. “This encounter also taught me to be extremely careful when taking the train.”

Moon acknowledges that her commute helped her build essential life skills. “Train schedules can be very bothersome at times, but in the long run, they have helped me develop better habits. For example, I am able to consistently wake up early, resulting in a better sleep schedule.” 

In addition to increasing her adaptive skills, Moon stated that the commute gives her  enough time to complete tedious work she wouldn’t have done otherwise. “[My commute] has given me time to check my emails more frequently, which helps me stay on top of my tasks/news,” Moon stated. Moon’s commute also gives her the chance to explore her interests, music in particular. “While the two seem very unrelated, listening to music on the train is what I enjoy most […] Daniel Caesar is my number one favorite singer that I found through my commute.”

Commuting helped Moon strengthen her relationships with friends who don’t attend Stuyvesant. “The commute has given me the chance to reconnect with my old friends who go to [LaGuardia High School]. Though we attend different high schools, running into each other at the train station gives us a chance to catch up and even learn about each others’ schools. [That] is surprisingly fun and stress-relieving,” Moon said.

After an intense day at school, Moon appreciates looking out the windows of the LIRR, embracing the scenery, and reflecting on life. “My favorite part about my commute is the ability to have a tranquil and relaxing moment […] Because of academic stress and workload, my mind is often occupied and overwhelmed. Taking the train and being able to sit in silence gives me a moment of peace,” Moon expressed. It helps that she finds the views stunning. “My favorite view is definitely the Douglaston view! Since I’m from Little Neck, it’s a stop I always cross and it is beautiful (especially during sunrise/sunset)!” 

Even though Moon knows firsthand the difficulties of commuting, she believes she’ll miss it after graduating from Stuyveasnt. “When I think back into high school in the future, I will remember the commute to be such a prominent part of it. Seeing beautiful views and meeting old friends are memories that only my commute has given me.”

Freshman Allen Lin 

For the first few weeks of school, freshman Allen Lin’s commute wasn’t ideal. Initially, Lin commuted via bus. However, the timing of the bus he rode was awkward and interfered with his schedule, prompting him to walk around 15 to 30 minutes instead.

Despite the inconvenient circumstances, Lin turned this into a positive opportunity. Lin walks about a mile to get to school, which has allowed him to kill two birds with one stone: commuting and exercising.

Before starting at Stuyvesant, Lin had always had an interest in running but was hesitant to join the track team. However, the exercise that his commute offers pushed him towards athletic growth and led him to consider joining the track team in the future. “I walk to Stuyvesant with a roughly 10+ pound backpack (which will only get heavier with a[n approximately] five pound laptop that I will soon start bringing to school).” Due to the rigor of the exercise, Lin felt immediate benefits. “I definitely do think my legs have started gaining a bit more stamina and getting a bit stronger […] I’m sure I will be able to run much farther in track, have more jumping power, and also jumping distance.”

Lin plans to increase his stamina and speed slowly but surely through his commute. “I’m currently starting it off with a nice and easy pace walking to school, but I do expect myself to be jogging to school by the end of the year just to show how much progress I’ve made having pretty much an entire workout laid out for me two times a day.” 

The rejuvenating properties of cardiovascular exercise coupled with the beautiful views of Manhattan are aspects of his commute that Lin thoroughly enjoys. “I also think that having a nice walk in the morning after waking up is always a nice way to get your day started; you’re active in the morning, you get some fresh air before a tiring day ahead, and you can enjoy the scenery depending on which areas you may decide to pass through.” Lin seems excited to enjoy his morning walks for the next four years.

Junior Preena Patel 

Junior Preena Patel is experienced in the art of commuting; the mode of transportation she takes varies from car to bus to train, but she usually takes the subway from Brooklyn and gets to school in 35 to 45 minutes.

Like Moon, Patel remembers her initial commute struggles, specifically regarding train delays. What she didn’t realize was that this inconvenience would lead to a long-lasting friendship. “Freshman year, my train was really delayed, so I got off at Dekalb Avenue. I was walking down and this girl approached me and said, ‘Are you in my German I class first period?’ And I [said], ‘Wait, yeah’ and now she’s my coolest friend at Stuyvesant,” Patel remarked. This friendship was sealed through their shared commute struggles. “We also commuted to school together after that. We transferred together and all of that stuff, and we were late together. I feel like that bond is really close to me, and I think it’s extremely incredible how that played out.” In this way, a dreaded commute can bring two individuals together.

Unlike many students, Patel’s favorite part of her commute is being on the train because it provides a distinct transition from her personal life to her academic one. “I feel like being on the train gives me time to just think and have a separate life than [my] home life,” Patel explained.

Her appreciation for her “two different lives” is amplified by the differences she has noticed between her high school experience and her brother’s. “My brother goes to high school close to our home and I always wonder if he has [...] two separate lives like I do. I feel like I have a Stuyvesant life and a home life,” Patel said.

Being underground on the subway prevents students from being able to do most things on their phones. However, Patel has created a routine to maximize productivity on the Wi-Fi-less train. “I complete homework mostly on my way home but I get to study for my tests in the mornings,” Patel explained. She even went on to say that she wishes to increase her commute length. “I kinda wish my commute was longer because I get work done so fast when I’m on the train.”

Patel’s commute allows her to explore thoughts that often go neglected during the day. “It’s almost like showering. If you turn on music when you shower, good for you, but I like to think and come up with ideas and stuff, so having a decently long commute in general helps you get that done,” Patel commented.

Overall, Patel’s favorite parts of commuting come from the positive mindset she holds herself to. 

A student’s method of commuting to and from school is important: it can determine a student’s outlook for the rest of the day. While commutes can certainly be annoying and interfere with school life, there are many positive aspects that are worth recognizing. Like Moon, Patel, and Lin, it’s important to acknowledge the negatives while also taking initiative to find the positives. Who knows, you could discover the bright side of your commute on your very next train ride.