A day in the life living 20 minutes away from campus

Buses are great but sleeping in is better
Image by: Herbert Wang
Good real-estate can dramatically improve your university experience.

When I first moved to Kingston, I expected the town to be compact, and for everything to be within my reach. The apartment I lived in was deceptively advertised as being close to campus.

“Only a 5-minute drive from Queens! Steps away from downtown Kingston!” That’s what the advert read.

In reality, a five-minute drive meant a 20-minute walk, and an equally long bus ride. I didn’t mind that at first. I suffered through worse commutes in the past. I had to take two buses to get from my house in Gatineau to my high school in Ottawa. The whole trip took up to an hour, sometimes two if the weather was bad enough.

By comparison, living 20 minutes from campus seemed like a treat, I was grateful to be within walking distance of my classes.

On the first day of school, I woke up early so I could have enough time to find my classes since it would be my first time on campus. I got dressed, made myself a hearty breakfast, and left.

I walked down Princess St. for a couple of blocks, turned on Alfred St. and kept going. I underestimated Princess St.’s ability to endlessly stretch on. I thought I’d never see campus as I realized how long a 20-minute walk really was.

At the end of the day, I walked back home and thought this would be an easy commute. With the sun out and the weather still warm, a good 20-minute walk was a great way for me to get some light exercise and clear my head before and after class.

When winter arrived, I learned something else: housing near campus was so expensive because no one wanted to walk 20 minutes in a snowstorm. Such a trek isn’t for the faint of heart—especially when you’re enrolled almost exclusively in classes that took place first thing each morning.

A longer commute meant a longer commitment. On the days I had 8:30 a.m. classes, I woke up at 6 a.m. Not only did I have to get dressed, clean my room, and eat breakfast, but I also had to prepare a packed lunch because I lived too far from campus to go home and eat between classes.

I had to account for time spent waiting for the bus, which I learned is a precise science. Since Kingston Transit can be unpredictable, I had to make sure I got on a bus set to arrive on campus early enough to be on time for my 8:30 a.m. classes, but not too early for all campus buildings to still be closed.

On the other hand, if I missed the bus, I had to wait half an hour for the next one. In cases like this, I would’ve been so late for class that I might as well have not even shown up.

I truly envied all the students who managed to secure a place in the University District. I dreamed of one day living in a house along University Ave. so I could walk for only a few minutes to snag my favourite seat in Stauffer.

Instead, if I wanted to go home between my classes, I’d spend 20 minutes walking there only to have 10 minutes to relax before I had to run back.

Now that I live on-campus, I can better appreciate how hard a long commute to school is. My apartment felt incredibly far, but it wasn’t nearly as far as the students who live closer to Rideau Heights.

Now I can wake up 10 minutes before class and still nap right after. While Canadian winters still pose a challenge, at least I can see my destination when I walk up the hill and know I’ll make it to class in the next few minutes.

For all of you who live right behind the ARC or right on Albert Street: guard your leases with your life. You have no idea how great your real estate is.


buses, Long Commute, off-campus, Travel

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