Have you ever read “The Hunger Games” book or even seen the movie? If you have not, then here is a brief summary: the story is centered around Katniss Everdeen and how she struggles to survive in the Hunger Games, which is basically a fight to the death between 24 children where only one comes out alive. Here is the movie trailer:
Though, before the ‘Games,’ Katniss and her fellow partner Peeta Mellark receive tips on how to stay alive from their mentor, Haymitch Abernathy, who happened to have won the ‘Games’ many years prior. Thus, based on his former experiences, Haymitch offers survival tips to his mentees in order to help them out and drastically improve their life expectancies. Which brings me to the point of this post: to offer my survival tips and life hacks to my fellow students/classmates based on my own experiences commuting to and from Rutgers. Yes, it is time to reveal some of my secrets that I have kept hidden for many years but now feel like it is the right time to expose it all. This is my “Hunger Games” Guide to Commuting. Let’s begin.
Survival Tip #1: Car – If you are commuting to Rutgers (or literally anywhere) from Southern New Jersey, LEAVE EARLY!
I cannot emphasis this enough. Even though I commute to Rutgers from Northern New Jersey, I have noticed the horrendous experiences when it comes to commuting from the other side. For instance, whenever I take Garden State Parkway South, no matter if it’s 9am or even 6am, Garden State Parkway North is ALWAYS PACKED. Like legitimately always filled with excessive traffic. Even on the weekends it has traffic as I drove up north to William Paterson one time and there was an INSANE amount of traffic. CRAZY. Anyway, my point is if you have to go up north for your commute, please plan ahead and leave at least an hour earlier than you intended (though it depends on how far your commute is). I would suggest if your commute is an hour away to leave at least two hours early just in case. As for going down south (like I do), you do not necessarily have to worry about leaving extra early as there is rarely traffic on that side of parkway UNLESS IF YOU ARE TAKING ROUTE 1 SOUTH. Then in that case you leave an extra half hour earlier.
Survival Tip #2: Train – Expect trains going to Newark/New York to ALWAYS BE CROWDED and try to find a seat towards the FRONT.
(Hint: trains going to Newark/New York are NORTHBOUND and trains going to Trenton are SOUTHBOUND) From the year that I spent taking the Trenton train from Elizabeth to New Brunswick and the Newark/New York train from New Brunswick to Elizabeth, I realized something: it is oddly similar to parkway North. In fact, It is ALWAYS THE NORTH that has the most amount of people for some reason. I guess a lot of people commute to New York for work? Either way, it can get pretty annoying when your train arrives and it is almost as packed as the LX at Scott Hall at 4:15pm. And it can especially get annoying for those trains that are only one floor instead of two floors (double-decker train) as seats can be very difficult to find in those types. If you happen to board the Newark/New York train at the first or second stop it makes in its route, then you will be fortunate enough to find a seat (that’s if it’s not during rush hour – aka when everyone gets out of work and school). However, if your station stop is after the train has already made several stops, then your chances of finding a seat are limited. Thus, this is why I suggest to go walk towards the front of the train as it arrives in order to get a seat as more people often tend to go towards the back of the train since it is more convenient and closer to the main part of the platform. Also, the front of the train often has the ‘quiet cars,’ which are basically the part of the train where no one is allowed to speak, so odds are you will likely find a seat there as people like to talk a lot and wouldn’t dare to sit in a ‘quiet car.’ Which brings me to my next tip.
Survival Tip #3: Train – If you have to study for an exam or do work for class, SIT IN THE ‘QUIET CAR.’
Also from what I noticed throughout my yearlong journey of taking the train to and from Rutgers, the crew on the train really enforce the rules of the ‘quiet car.’ If you are caught talking on the phone or listening to high volumes of music while in the ‘quiet car,’ a crew member will politely tell you to either keep it down or move to another part of the train. And let me tell you, I have seen plenty of people get kicked out of the ‘quiet car’ for being too loud, so yeah – it is seriously quiet in there. Which is perfect for those who want to focus on studying or doing work such as I. Whenever I had an exam coming up or if I had to read my textbook for a class, I always sat in the ‘quiet car’ and did my work there. As I said before, not a lot of people tend to sit in that part of the train, so you can expect minimal to no distractions. I almost always was able to concentrate on what I had to do and I thank the ‘quiet car’ for contributing to my straight As last semester. Sometimes I even miss taking the train and sitting in the ‘quiet car’ so I could catch up on work as I can’t read my book and drive at the same time now. So if you have to take the train at any point in your life and you have something you need to do, take advantage of the ‘quiet car.’
Bonus: Regarding trains and exams…if you are taking Gen Chem 1 & 2, DON’T COMMUTE BY TRAIN FOR THE EXAMS. The Chem Department likes to show no mercy for commuters by holding their exams late at night (9:40-11pm to be exact), so please avoid taking the train that late at night, especially if you come from a bad area. Here’s my story: I took Gen Chem 1 last year (Fall 2017) and I had no choice but to commute by train as I had no car at the time, so I would have had to take the train back home after the exam and be in the bad part of Elizabeth by midnight (FYI: Broad Street – Elizabeth is an area you would want to avoid in the late hours. Here is an example of how bad it is):
Luckily I had a boyfriend at the time that would pick me up after the exam and drive me home. But seriously, I would NOT suggest taking a class like Chem that has late exams and then commute by train home. The sciences here in general don’t take commuters into consideration, but I’ll leave that discussion for a future post
and why I switched from premed to psych.
Survival Tip #4: Car – Parking at Rutgers? Driving at Rutgers? AVOID COLLEGE AVE AT ALL COSTS!
Have you noticed that whenever there’s an accident at Rutgers, it’s almost always at College Ave? Just a few weeks ago I witnessed a car accident at College Ave where a car hit another car which then hit a bus. Last year I witnessed a car accident at College Ave where a bus hit a car. In other words, College Ave is NOT A SAFE PLACE TO DRIVE. It’s almost always crowded with either people walking or vehicles and traffic. I think it’s like the most overpopulated campus at Rutgers overall. Therefore, I say if you have to commute and park at Rutgers, DON’T pick College Ave as your place. So many jaywalkers and idiots speeding. Livingston comes in second place after College Ave. Lots of people and vehicles as well. If you’re like me and want to avoid pedestrians and traffic overall, then choose to park on Busch or even Cook/Douglass. I personally park on Busch and I love it as I rarely have to deal with pedestrians not looking both ways while crossing the street or excessive amounts of cars. Busch also seems to be more secluded than the other campuses, which is another bonus. Also:
Bonus: If you want a good enough space for parking, try to arrive at Rutgers by 9:30am THE LATEST. I usually try to aim to arrive on campus between 9-9:30am so I don’t have to park too far and walk as much to the bus stop. But one time I did arrive at around 10:15am and I had to park towards the end of the Stadium West Lot. Which is how I learned to leave my house at 8:15am the latest to give me plenty of time to make it to campus by 9am.
AND NOW FINALLY FOR YOU GUYS WHO DON’T COMMUTE BUT LIVE ON OR NEAR CAMPUS:
Survival Tip #5: Rutgers Buses – Have to get on a bus that always seems to be crowded? Walk to the earlier bus stops that it makes and enter the bus through the front.
This is sort of similar to what I said earlier about finding a seat for the train. The FRONT is your best friend. Usually when students try to get on a crowded bus, they seem to aim for the back part of it. Or at least I noticed that more students crowd towards the back door than the front door. So I usually go for the front door as there are less students waiting there, students getting off the bus usually go faster than the ones getting off in the back (probably because there are less students in the front than the back), and you are almost always guaranteed a seat. And regarding having to get on a bus that always seems to be crowded (such as the LX or the F or the B), I would suggest to walk to the earlier bus stops it makes.
For example, after this very class for which I am writing this blog post for, I always have to take an F or EE ASAP in order to make it to my next class on Cook/Douglass. However, the nearest bus stop to our class building is Scott Hall, aka the most crowded bus stop in the history of Rutgers, and it is always difficult to get on a bus from there as it is already crowded with the students from the previous bus stops. Henceforth, I decided to always walk up to the College Ave Student Center bus stop and wait for a bus there as there is usually less people than Scott Hall and a lower chance for packed buses. People who have to take the LX usually do this little trick too, and it seems to work. So why not give it a try? Instead of waiting for that LX or B at the Livingston Student Center bus stop, just walk to the Livingston Plaza stop and get on a bus there (through the front of course). You’re almost guaranteed to be able to fit on that bus.
This was my “Hunger Games” Guide to Commuting. I hope my life hacks are of good use to you all.