A commuter student in search of the campus experience
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Camille Sanchez: As a new commuter student, "I'm trying to find something to do" between classes."
Camille Sanchez is trying to find some middle ground for her daily commute to UIC.
She started off her first week of classes leaving too early and ended the week leaving a little too late.
The first day of her freshman year, Sanchez was nervous that she would get lost on campus. She boarded an early morning Metra train from Bolingbrook to Union Station, arriving at campus two hours before class.
Walking around the east side of campus, she quickly learned that she probably could have slept in a little longer.
“I thought it was going to be kind of hard to find the buildings, but it was really easy,” she said. “It took me like 10 minutes. I really didn’t know what to do after that.”
Thursday she left later, but the Metra parking lot was full and she couldn’t find another parking spot before her train left.
Realizing the next train would give her only 15 minutes to travel from Union Station to campus, she decided to drive. She made it to class on time, but after a stressful ride.
“There was traffic and construction — it was awful,” she said. “And I got lost — it was only my second time driving here.”
When Sanchez enrolled at UIC, she decided to live at home and take the Metra to campus because the commute isn’t too long: 30 minutes by train, 5 minutes more on the bus, she said.
“I wanted to save on money and make sure I focus on school instead of the party life,” she said.
Commuting to campus sometimes makes Sanchez feel a little disconnected from her peers, she said, but she’s happy with her decision to live at home. She often leaves campus right after class to be home in time to pick up her sister from junior high school.
“Sometimes I feel like I should be dorming and doing all that college stuff, but I’m OK with it,” she said. “I don’t know if I could ever live in a dorm — I like my space.”
Without a room to head back to, she’s trying to figure out how to spend her free time between classes.
“There’s always space for commuters to kind of hang out,” she said. “But I’m trying to find something to do. I didn’t have homework during the first few days.”
Sanchez is majoring in information and decision sciences in the College of Business Administration. She was inspired by her dad, who works in information technology.
“It just kind of fit,” she said. “But I’ve only met one person who has the same major as me so far.”
She has sticker shock over the cost of her books: $465, with two more to buy.
“I thought I was going to be able to get all used books, but I couldn’t find any at all.”
She said she might get a job to help pay for commuting and school costs, but for now she’s just working on getting used to traveling to school.
“It hasn’t been as complicated as I thought it was going to be,” she said. “But I really like being in the city.”
UPDATE (11/26/08): "All-Nighters and a Daily Commute" (UICNews)
Meet the other freshmen:
*Interview courtesy of UICNews; Author Christy Levy; Photo Roberta Dupuis-Devlin.