A Day in the Life of an Eastern Commuter

They brave traffic, train delays, the elements and everything in-between with one goal in mind: get to Eastern University.

The commuter lounge is a great place for commuters to study, relax and hang out with other commuters.
The commuter lounge is a great place for commuters to study, relax and hang out with other commuters. Heather Ciaramitaro | The Waltonian
I’m talking, of course, about the Eastern commuters. You have likely passed them in the commuter lounge or the Jammin’ Java on your way to the Dining Commons, and if you have ever wondered who these people are and what would possess them to want to get up early enough to trek to school in the morning, now is your chance to find out.

Commuters typically travel by car or by SEPTA train (since most commuters live in the surrounding area). Senior Adrian Suryajaya is a fourth year commuter who prefers the latter. Suryajaya takes three connecting trains each morning to get to school, a trip that totals 50 minutes. Compared to the relative ease of a five-minute walk from dorm building to classroom (relative because the ease varies with how early in the morning it is), this seems like a ridiculous amount of added effort. But Suryajaya has a good reason for his decision.

“Commuting, I save $10,000 a year,” he said. “I don’t even make that much in a year. That’s a lot of money saved.” A train pass from SEPTA costs a mere $24 a week in comparison.

Fellow senior Kandace Thomas also commutes so that she can enjoy more time at home. Her preferred method of travel is by car. From her Philadelphia home, Eastern is only about 20-30 minutes away, making for a relatively smooth car ride…most of the time. Though one can never say enough about the evil that is Philadelphia traffic, Thomas faces, in her opinion, a much bigger obstacle several months out of the year.

“Snow,” she said, “if it’s snowing, I’m not coming!” Though snow may never derail a train the way it can a car on a slippery road, a conductors’ strike sure can, just as it did when Suryajaya was a freshman.

“I couldn’t go to class when that happened,” he said. Fortunately the strike lasted only one day, and he was able to return to class the next day.

New for commuters this year is the recently formed commuter council. The brainchild of commuter RA Jessica Winston and Commuter Adviser Sara Ralph, the council of four meets weekly to discuss fun activities and nights out for the commuters.

“They have nothing to bring them together,” said Winston, “and we wanted to give them a sense of community and belonging.” So far the group has planned a “commuters’ night out” of bonding and fellowship, a picnic, and hiking in Valley Forge, with many other activities on the way.

With the whirl and twirl of a resident student’s life, it can be easy to forget about our commuter siblings. Why not stop by the commuter lounge and say hello? Maybe you can do it on your way to the Dining Commons for chicken nugget Friday.

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