Sunday, November 8, 2015

Musings of A Temporary Commuter

Last year, I lived in A Coruña, Spain for nine months and though I did my fair share of commuting around town on foot and by bus, nothing compares to the commuter-like life I have been living as of late. I moved about 75 kilometers south of Coruña to Santiago de Compostela, the capital city of the autonomous region of Galicia. Luckily for me (and thousands of locals and tourists alike), there is a high speed railway system that connects the two cities and puts you in one city or the other in less than a half hour. How nice is that? I also happen to live just a short 10 minute walk from Santiago's train station so the temptation to hop on said high speed train at any given hour and hang out with some friends is a thought that's always present in my mind.

However, I'm starting to rethink it and resist the temptation a little bit more each time I do a commute - no matter how long the distance - as I realize how taxing it can be on a person physically, not to mention financially, too. In the end it's all worth it and it's an experience that stretches and grows you. I'd like to say that being a commuter definitely forces you to be more punctual and whips you into shape as far being on time goes but in my case, it just brings out the risk-taker in you. The one who thinks, "I can make it on that train in two minutes." (You'd like to THINK you can every time but I've only successfully managed to do that once, haha.)

Some of the oddest thoughts go through your mind as you commute from one city to another and I decided to write them all down.

Time is usually your worst enemy but it can also become your greatest asset.

Here are some thoughts and observations that I've had over the course of 6 weeks of off and on travel via planes, trains, buses and metro systems:

1. Some days I feel like I can conquer the underground rail world but other days I feel like I can't put one foot in front of the other let alone catch a train or make a correct transfer.

2. Sometimes it feels cool and mysterious to be on a high speed or metro train going to a new location. You remind yourself that you never know who you'll meet or who you'll sit next to today. Other days you wish you had one of your friends or siblings along with you so that you could both giggle or laugh at a magazine picture or a silly ad like the pair of best friends to your left are doing. (Quick: listen to a favorite song and turn up the volume before you make yourself homesick and sad! :/)

3. Though you are around dozens of other people doing the exact same thing you are, you are essentially alone. You either grow to love your own company or hate it. (My advice: learn to love it as it will be better for you in the long-run!)

4. Sleeping on a plane/train/bus gets easier the more times you do it. Though, it does depend on the day, your mood and who is or isn't falling asleep in the seat next to you. (yawn)

Other times sleeping on the train is the whole point of the ride. (My "goody" bag from Renfe on my train hotel
from A Coruña to Barcelona Sants in June)

5. Eventually, the more times you commute, the easier it is to pack your work or school bag. And pretty soon, you have it all down to a T when it comes to what you put inside it.

6. After so many days of commuting, you learn which seats are the best to sit in (or which ones in which cars are closer to the exits) and you start to pick the same seat each time you commute.

7. Making plans on what to do to help the 30 minutes to 1 hour on the train pass becomes less burdensome over time and you start to look forward to this time and what you can accomplish during it.

And little by little you amass a collection of train tickets before you decide to go paperless
and load tickets on your smartphone.

8. Planning what to do on the train leads to creating a time of the day where you can study and practice a new language. And after a couple weeks of doing this each time you're on the train, you start to become conditioned and naturally begin pulling out your books or signing into Duolingo and studying the language each time you're on the train. (At least this is my current situation.)

9. Daydreaming that you accidentally chose a seat next to a cute guy and struck up a great conversation has happened at least once, haha.

10. One time you sat in the seat assigned for your return train and not your departing train! (That happened to me very recently. Oops.)

11. You realize sooner or later that paying attention to the tiny details of the people and events around you (even when you're sleepy) is very crucial to your success as a commuter.

And there you have it!

If you're lucky, your commute can sometimes come with an incredible view like this one. (Spoiler alert:
Ocean views sold separately in Galicia during the fall or winter, haha)


Are you a commuter or were you a commuter in the past? Where was your commute to and from? Do you have any pearls of wisdom or observations about your commute to add above? Tell me about them in the comments below! :)


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