There are five things that I just can’t commute to New York City without:
This one is most obvious. Our phones are our lives. I wouldn’t be able to get to work the first day without Google Maps. Because of the Urban Spoon app, I found the nearest Indian food place without wasting time wandering around on my 30 minute (well 20 once I wait for an elevator) lunch break. I keep up with editors in San Francisco, Dallas, Lexington and New York via email. I listen to music (very low or only in one ear for safety reasons) as I walk through the streets or sit on the train. One thing I learned the hard way though is to never text while walking. I know it seems silly, but I have gotten inches from speeding cabs on more than one occasion because of texting. Always pay attention while walking, no matter where you are!
Everyone I know who has to commute hates it, but with the right stuff, it really isn’t so bad. I love the fact that I have 30-40 minutes at the start and end of every work day where I can either just sit and read, listen to music or get to know the person sitting next to me. So far I’ve read The Monster of Florence, Fifty Shades of Grey, and Fifty Shades Darker as I’ve commuted. Last year, it took me the whole summer just to finish one book! If you’re not into books, listening to music, playing games on your phone or just looking out the window are other nice ways to cherish your downtime while on your commute.
This may be the writer in me but I carry a marble notebook with me everywhere. Aside from my planner, which I don’t always have on hand, I use a notebook to leave myself reminders, take notes during work, or write down the crazy stories of my day. I don’t think I could leave the house without pen and paper in some form.
Everyone should do this! Take a zip lock sandwich bag and fill it with essentials. I keep Oil Absorbing Sheets, Excedrin, a small mirror, anti-bacterial, pens, gum, lip balm, floss, tweezers, tissues and a mini toothbrush and paste in mine. This way, you don’t have to look through all the compartments of your bag to get to what you want and it makes it easy to change from bag to bag. Also, if you get caught in rain, your lotion explodes or your water bottle leaks, nothing will get ruined.
As told in the post “Don’t Just Think On Your Feet, Think Of Your Feet,” I wouldn’t be able to commute without my commuting shoes. I still have blisters and calluses from those first two weeks of walking two miles each way in flats. Walking as a part of your commute is a good way to incorporate a bit of exercise into your day, but walking in shoes without support can lead to back and knee pain. You could really ruin your feet. I commute either in a pair of Keds or these Fit Foam Adidas Flip Flops. Change up your shoes and your feet will thank you!
I’ve got a one-hour commute to New York City. Don’t worry; there’s no “poor me” necessary. Americans took 10.7 billion trips on public transit (back in 2008), and so far, I have only taken 20. To be honest, I don’t have it half bad.
I’m living at my grandmother’s who treats me as if I were the Queen of England, something I can’t appreciate enough especially after living on my own for months traveling. Not many people can say their ride home from the train station arrives in perfect time each day to bring them to a home, not just a house, surrounded in sweet smelling grass and clean crisp air. Not many can say they come home to their bed made; their clothes cleaned; and fall asleep to the light hum of Teen Mom on the television from the room down the hall.
Even with all of these luxuries at home, the commute to New York City could be hell. I could focus on the dog poop that I stepped in on my first day as I got off the train. I could let the creepy guy in the corner staring at me give me a scare that lingers the entire day. I could listen to the arguments of the couples on the street, the baby crying, the lady’s voice screaming on the phone so loud I’m scared her lungs will end up on the floor. I could let myself be paranoid as there are so many noises pouring out from the ground (subway), creeping up behind me (people just walking to close), or voices from the sky (people in their apartments five floors above). I’ve learned a whole new meaning of the line Alicia Keys sings: “even if it ain’t all it seems I’ve got a pocket full of dreams…” My pocket too is full of dreams; unfortunately, it is empty of cash, a common result of commuting.
If you head into your commute thinking to yourself that your pockets will forever be empty, the train will always be late, the person sitting next to you will reek of body odor and you will show up to work in pit stains because it is 5,000 degrees (blame global warming), then you’ll never get to see the good things that come with commuting. Although they can see few and far between, there are some positives that come out of commuting.
On the days those problems don’t happen, you will feel like a million bucks. The bad just helps you appreciate that nice conversation you had with a stranger on the train, that boy’s smile as you make funny faces at a him while you’re waiting for your train home to get a track number, and the witness of a moment of raw and sweet human nature like a mother kissing the top of her daughter’s head or a boyfriend holding his girl for just one second longer. When you’re finished with a long day, you’ll appreciate that the train that will bring you home has air-conditioning and leather (looking) seats instead of the old clunker that brought you to the city in the morning.
Lesson learned: “Don’t take the bad annoyances to heart, just hold the sweet little things close.”
Okay, so if you’re a guy, you might think you just got advice from My Little Pony herself. What I mean to say is that you can let yourself get pissed and curse and complain on the phone like I hear that thin, blond woman doing everyday I get out of Penn Station (I feel so bad for the person on the other end of that). Instead, let it go.
Like Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting, “it’s not your fault. Look at me son; it’s not your fault.”
Like The Lion King, “When the world turns your back on you, you turn your back on the world, right? WRONG.” When it comes to stupid problems in your day, Hakuna matata.
Like Liz’s come-what-may philosophy in Gilmore Girls:
LUKE: How can you be so calm about this? You’re so calm.
LIZ: Because I got my new come-what-may philosophy.
LUKE: Your what?
LIZ: My philosophy. It’s about accepting what comes your way, whatever it is. If a bus is heading right at you, let it come. If a piece of space junk comes hurtling down at you, let it come.
LUKE: Or you step out of the way.
LIZ: You know, that’s probably better, and when I said what I said now, it felt wrong.
Don’t let yourself get hit with space junk, but relax and let the little stuff go.
After my embarrassment wore off and I continued with my day interning in New York City, I found myself on the train home next to a 40-something year old Pakistani man, who was sweet as can be. Everyone stared as we talked. He said he was an engineer and a part-time teacher at the school where his commuting bag was clearly from. He was heading home to his family after a long day as we swapped stressful stories of our days.
He left me with one line of wisdom, something his father had always told him: “Wise people learn from others’ mistakes,” he said, “Fools learn from their own.”
I’ve been feeling like a fool myself, since I have always thought that as long as I learned something from a mistake, it was worth it. This man made me realize that this idea can be taken a step further.
Instead of quickly acting like no embarrassing mistake has just happened, I’m going to pin-point each spastic moment so you can ensure you don’t run into the same commuting blunders, or at least you can know you are not alone when you literally fall on your face, because yes, I’ve been there.
Everyone has had a day when they’ve walked into work with a coffee stain on their shirt or their hair frizzy or their tie all the way to the left. If you haven’t had one of these moments yet, don’t worry; your time is coming.
We all know the old adage “don’t sweat the small stuff.” What they don’t tell you is to also appreciate the little things too. Chances are if you stay observant, especially while commuting, you will find little gems that make your day. These gems will offset those pestering little obstacles. Some days, you will feel like your running the 400 hurdles, as it seems like every 20 meters there is something in your way. Other days, it’ll feel like a high jump with one main problem. Even if you feel as though your facing a pole vault, I promise you will get through whatever commuting problem you have. It may take hours upon hours, days upon days of practice and training, but in the end, you will get over it. Eventually, you will end up with a steady stride as if you are running through the woods, marveling at the trees, animals and hey, look! A waterfall! You’ll be breathing in the fresh air and feeling great.
Or maybe not, since I have been tripping over rocks and falling on my face myself… At least you’ll have something to laugh at. (And if not, there’s always Aziz to pick up the slack!)
Even when the unthinkable happens, the clouds clear and you finally land the internship of your dreams, money can hold you back. Many of the top companies in big cities offer unpaid internships only. This can be a problem when it costs $50 a day just to commute. Here are some things to think about when shooting for that big company name internship:
How are you going to commute? Trains can be expensive, especially when you consider parking. Plus, the train may get you into the city you are commuting to, but what about going from there? You may need a bus, subway, or cab all of which can get expensive (or confusing) if you cannot walk. Another way to go is taking the bus from the start. Again, you will need transportation from there. All of these alternatives are generally cheaper than straight driving your commute due to gas prices, traffic, and parking. If you take another form of transportation, you can also take that time to nap, read a book, or just relax with some music.
Where will you take your lunch break? Will you be bringing it or eating out? Food is the second biggest concern after transportation. Bringing your lunch and some snacks for the train or bus ride is definitely cheaper, although more time consuming.
What will you need to wear? Chances are, you cannot go to your internship in the same clothes you have been going to class in. Updating the wardrobe from comfortable college student to professional work attire can cost some dough. If on a budget, check out stores like Marshals where you need to dig, but can find some great pieces discounted. Also, search for consignment shops in your area.
Aside from toning down your expenses, there are working options you can take when you aren’t interning that won’t burn you out and leave you feeling too overwhelmed.
Babysitting is one of the best ways to make some extra cash. Although there is a major risk factor as the kids’ behavior can range from angelic to rude and bouncing off the walls, babysitting has a good time to money ratio. Chances are you will be getting paid in cash too! If you’re not sure where to find families to babysit, check out Sittercity.com or other websites of the sort that match you up with families. All you need to do is add a profile.
If kids aren’t your thing, check out surveying or participating in research studies. Since there are so many scams out there, you may need to know someone who knows someone to find one of these. The good news is that all you need to do is drive somewhere and give your opinion on shampoo or sneakers or some product, and you will leave with a day’s pay. This can range from $50 to $150. The only catch is that you can only participate once every so many months.
Although it may take an arm and a leg to pull this off, that internship on your resume is worth it!