Staff Writer: Jacqueline Yan     ||     Photo Credits: Translink

Having spent my entire first year commuting an hour and fifteen minutes each way, to and from campus, I have learned some valuable lessons about what to do (and what not to do) as a commuter student. Here are 9 essential tips that every commuter student should keep in mind:

1. Always Remember to Reload Your Compass Card

Say goodbye to the monthly paper U-Pass, and hello to the Compass Card. Students no longer need to scramble on the last day of the month to find a U-Pass machine. Make sure to always load your Compass Card after the 16th of each month in order to ride transit the following month. My tip? Set a reminder on your phone each month so that forgetting is not an option! Keep in mind that it takes up to 24 hours for the request to activate.

2. Check out the Commuter Student Hostel

Need to stay late to attend a campus event, work on a group project, or last-minute study for a big exam? Located in the Walter Gage residence, the Commuter Student Hostel offers commuter students the option to spend the night on campus for as little as $30/night plus taxes. The hostel is available Sunday to Thursday nights from mid-September to the end of April, as well as during exam periods. For more information, visit http://vancouver.housing.ubc.ca/other-housing/commuter-student-hostel/

3. Chill Out at Collegia

While students who live on residence tend to find a sense of belonging to the UBC community more quickly than students who live off campus, Collegia aims to dispel this often sad truth. Advertised as a “Home away from home,” Collegia, located in the Ponderosa Commons, is catered to fit the specific needs of first-year commuter students. Students can hang out between classes, eat lunch, take an afternoon nap, and socialize with other commuter students in the newly designed UBC Collegia. With a 300 person maximum capacity, make sure to get your membership quickly before all the spots are snatched up!

4. Carry a Compact Umbrella

Lugging around a large umbrella is not only an inconvenience space-wise, but also tends to beeasier to lose. A compact umbrella that can fit in the bottom of one’s backpack is an absolute must-have for commuter students- or rather all UBC students alike. With Vancouver’s unpredictable precipitation patterns, you never know when you’ll need to keep dry.

5. Headphones

Sitting on the bus or skytrain can be unbearable without a good set of headphones. May it be background music to studying, a lullaby to get you a much needed power nap, or a loud distraction from fellow passengers, tuning into some music while commuting makes an otherwise lengthy trip seem that much more bearable.

6. Invest in a Multi-Functional Backpack

We all like to travel in style, but make sure that style is also functional. Invest your time and money in a backpack that has ample space and pockets to fit all of the belongings you’ll need for the entirety of the day, while also being comfortable on your back.

7. Rent a Locker

Without the luxury of a room to store all of your belongings in, renting a locker is an inexpensive way to make sure you’re well prepared for every class, without breaking your back carrying four different textbooks. The Sauder building offers locker rentals for just $10/semester. Check out the CUS website for details on how to sign-up.

8. Plan Out Your Trip

Always check bus schedules to make sure you’re taking the most efficient route to and from campus. Text the bus stop number to 33333 for real-time updates as to when your bus is scheduled to arrive. Furthermore, check alternate routes to see if there is a faster way to get to point B. With a little planning, one can often find a way to shave a good ten to fifteen minutes off the commute.

9. Load Your Student Card

Many students aren’t aware of the ability to load money onto one’s student card. This is an easy and efficient way to pay for food, and can be applied towards a wide variety of vendors (including the Bookstore, Blue Chip Cookies, Tim Hortons, and others) across campus. The convenience of cashless transactions, combined with a 5% discount on all purchases, is an attractive option  for commuter students who do not have the opportunity to sign up for a meal plan.