Final Reflection

Wow. I just cannot believe that the end is here already. Time went by so fast (thank goodness) and the semester is almost over. giphy-17.gif Hence, now comes the moment where I basically wrap this whole blog up. What a journey it was. I’m going to be honest: it was a pretty complicated journey for me. The experience was definitely unforgettable though. I doubted myself from the beginning of this entire project and even up to today I still don’t consider myself a good writer. But I do consider myself as someone who has progressed and gotten better. conormcgregor1.jpgI don’t think writing blogs (or writing in general) is my thing and will probably stick to my basic Tumblr blog, fan-girling over One Direction, Star Wars, and Avatar: The Last Airbender, but I do like and appreciate what I was able to contribute here. I like how this blog made me challenge myself and my capabilities in terms of not only writing but driving as well. Just like writing, I also doubted my driving skills. However, now I can be like “Look at me now!” as I have proven that I can indeed drive on the turnpike, which was the scariest highway ever to me.

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Me when I drove the turnpike for the first time.

In fact, now I pretty much take the turnpike whenever I need to and I’m totally fine with it. I even took the turnpike to school this week and it’s all thanks to this blog. Also thanks to this blog, I can drive pretty much anywhere now without much fear as I had in the past. In fact, I am now encouraged to drive to even farther away and even more unfamiliar places from home and school such as Atlantic City or Wildwood. So that’s good. Overall, this experience was like a huge rollercoaster ride to me. giphy-19.gifThe beginning of this entire project was just crazy for me. I had no idea what I wanted to do a blog on as I really don’t like or enjoy doing anything, which is why I ultimately settled on commuting. Looking back at my old posts I can say that I’m not too proud of them as I was still suffering from issues in life and I wasn’t too keen on anything. Legit nothing made me happy or excited anymore to the point where I was ready to drop out of this class.

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Me at the beginning of the semester.

Yet, I decided to suck it up and stick it out in this class, with this blog. As the time progressed, I realized that I could do more with this blog and eventually became proud of my future posts as they improved (at least in my opinion). At the end of it all, looking back at the whole thing did make me realize that I guess I am a decent writer. crying-man-i-guess-meme.jpg Again, I still don’t consider myself a good writer, but at least I’m like average in a way. But to conclude this whole final reflection, I guess that I am content with the work that I did for this blog.

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My face after feeling accomplished for all I did for this blog.

Will I ever write a blog again? No. But I’ll stick with the fun things that I adopted from this experience and project, and I’ll definitely be trying out new things for the drive. So thank you.

 

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One Last Hurrah! Trip to Winter Wonderland

Hi everyone! For this last and final blog post, I decided it would be best to talk about and show my commuting adventure through a Christmassy-like place just in time for the holidays. Now that Thanksgiving is over, it is time to focus on the Winter holidays like Christmas. And what better way to do that than to take a trip through a Holiday Horse and Wagon Ride in Red Bank, NJ!

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Last Saturday, my BFF and I decided that we were gonna go on a fun trip to a town that was doing something special for Christmas, since our town doesn’t really do much when it comes to the holidays. Now initially we were gonna go to Millburn, NJ, for a ‘winter-themed’ event that they were having. However, due to the rain that was gonna happen that day, Millburn decided to postpone its event to the next day (last Sunday). Unfortunately for us, my BFF couldn’t make it that day as she was going to be heading back to her dorm at Willy P. Therefore, we settled on the 45 minute drive to Red Bank for their event instead. Yep, we’re kinda crazy. But it was worth it. Here’s why.

Driving to Red Bank was the 1st time that I ever drove on Garden State Parkway past the exit that I would usually take to go to Rutgers (exit 130B: US-1 South Trenton). I legit never went that far down south with myself driving, so this was a new experience for me. It was pretty cool to drive that far and see how GSP changes at a certain point. Like I never really knew that GSP splits into an express road and a local road. Also, the amount of tolls I had to go through to get to and from Red Bank was hilarious. E-zpass to get into Red Bank from GSP, E-zpass to get into GSP from Red Bank. LOL. But the view driving down this unfamiliar part of GSP was nice.

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But enough talk about the drive. Let’s talk about the unusual form of commuting that my BFF and I experienced for this trip. I’m talking about this Holiday Horse and Wagon Ride, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Yes, we rode throughout the town in a horse and wagon ride, while Christmas music was playing in the background. It was a really enjoyable ride overall. It basically gets you into the whole “have a holly jolly Christmas” mood. My BFF and I sat with this small family of grandparents, parents, and an adorable little girl, who were such nice and friendly people. Together, we rode through the town and people took pictures and videos of us. Misty, the horse, certainly enjoyed the attention. Overall, it was a very nice experience and I recommend people with kids to go. Here are some pictures and videos of our experience:

Not only did we go to Red Bank, but we also decided to go to Chatham, NJ for a Christmas Tree Lighting event! It was very fun, even though it was really cold outside and raining. It really put us in the Christmas spirit. Little kids were singing and dancing to Christmas carols. There was also Santa, who came late. Hot cocoa and glow sticks were passed out as a free compliment. The drive to and from there wasn’t too bad as it took around 2 hours in total. The town was all dressed up and decorated beautifully compared to where I live. Even the trees aligning the roadside were covered in Christmas lights! It was a breath-taking scene! Here are also some pictures and videos of what we saw:

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And that was our trip to Winter Wonderland this season! Happy holidays!

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Taking New Risks and Facing My Fears – How I Explored New Routes

During these past couple of weeks, I told myself that it was finally time to start commuting different ways to and from school in order to take some new risks for fun. In other words, I decided to put on a brave face and try various new and unfamiliar roads and highways that my GPS (Waze) would suggest. I also decided that now seemed like the right time to face my fears of driving head-on, especially now that the horrible weather conditions of the winter were going to start soon (and then it did…).

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First off, I FINALLY got the guts to go and drive on the turnpike to school. I ALMOST ALWAYS try to avoid the turnpike at all costs due to the crazy amount of speeding that people tend to do there. ASfCs.gifHowever, on this particular day I had just gotten gas off of route 1-9 (another route that I usually never take) and saw how INSANE the traffic was. My GPS kept telling me to go take the turnpike. I refused at first, and then I checked to see what the alternate routes were like. They were NOT GOOD. Up to 50 MINUTE DELAY on route 1 alone! source.gifAt this point I was like f*ck it, I’ll just go on the turnpike…I mean how bad can it be right?… Boy was I wrong. Driving on the actual turnpike was okay. It was getting into and out of turnpike through the tolls that was complicated, especially after I got out of turnpike to merge onto route 18.

SO BAD. But at least I got to experience how turnpike is like so whenever I have to take it for like emergencies or something, I won’t be that scared anymore hopefully.

Anyway, after that experience, I decided that no matter what, I was going to go on the 1st route that the GPS suggests so that I can go about and explore new ways and places I’ve never been. That same day I took the turnpike, I also took another crazy and weird route home. The GPS told me to go down route 18 all the way past the Livingston Campus exit and turn on some random street. And so I did. Driving through this street (Sidney Road I believe it was called?) was one of the scariest experiences of my life. This street just screams ‘horror movie’ as literally no one was driving on it when I passed through.

It was also late at night so it was pretty dark and there were no lights…I felt like a serial killer was going to come out any moment and abduct me or something. But luckily no one did and I survived driving down this street but man it was so surreal. *shudders*

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And then there was the awful snowstorm of Thursday, November 15th. That was the 1st time I have ever driven in snow in my whole life. And it was not a pleasant experience. It was just plain horrible. What would normally be an hour drive to go home after my class ended at 6:20 instead took 3 HOURS. 3 HOURS! The roads were in such bad conditions, and it especially got worse as I got closer to my hometown.

Rutgers may have gotten a decent amount of snow, but the towns up north got it even worse. The roads were barely cleaned in Roselle, and then there was the traffic. So much unbelievable traffic on my own street that I live on. And drivers are just rude. I had to basically force my way in and merge onto the street or else I would’ve been stuck forever.

It was a nightmare. On top of that, as soon as I made it to my parking lot, my car got stuck in the snow and I couldn’t move. That’s when I found out my car definitely wasn’t made for the snow and I called my dad for help, lol. Overall, the GPS took me through the weirdest and longest route yet, avoiding route 18 all together and finding a new way to get onto route 1, which would then turn into 1-9. Definitely took me places I’ve never been before. I’ll also definitely never forget that experience. As a bonus, here are some of my own pictures and videos of my 1st experience driving in snow from that Thursday night and that following Friday morning (you can even see the moment where I knew I f*cked up!).

So overall, what I learned is that sometimes you should just go out and take new risks during your commutes, face your fears of driving, and even go and explore new routes. Even though some of these experiences might be terrifying and unusual, you never know when this knowledge could come in handy.

 

The Perks of Being a Commuter

In this week’s post, instead of talking about something new or cool that I tried while commuting, I have decided to focus on the pros of commuting. Aka, what are the perks of being a commuter? Since I usually tend to discuss the negative aspects of commuting as seen in my previous posts (smh looking back at those posts…*shudders*), I will now show the positives of commuting and how it is not all that bad.

Firstly, you get to save a sh*t ton of money. image.php.jpeg Dorming is expensive as hell when it comes to all of those housing fees, along with the mandatory meal plan fees and of course the regular tuition fees. I remember when I dormed my freshman year and ended up in so much debt I still regret it up to this day *cries.* 873b054cb54abd32a01f8a60d0624bbd--john-travolta-student-loans.jpg But ever since I began commuting my sophomore year, the amount of money I have saved is unbelievable. I even got so much money back in my refund checks too! By being a commuter, I was able to use the money I saved to lease myself a new car, buy a new laptop, and pay for summer classes. That’s a lot! giphy-12

Secondly, by living at home, you always get to experience your mom’s (or dad’s) home-cooked meals instead of the food at the dining halls. Let’s be real. Dining hall food is not exactly the best there is out there. Whenever I would eat at the dining halls, I remember always feeling sick afterwards for some reason??? 86c83511aa0597282411a95585b5e225a8daecc184cdc5281c042b4ac728ed26.gifLow-key probably due to my lactose intolerance and food allergies but never mind that, food from your loved ones is so much better in my opinion. As a commuter, you always have the option of bringing food from home to school every day and/or even going back home just to eat lunch or whatever – of course depending on how close you live to school. I personally live pretty far away so I can’t easily go home to eat whenever I want but I do always bring a healthy lunch that my mom makes 🙂 kidlunch-f5a200e9Oh yeah, you can eat healthier at home too! At least I do compared to when I lived on campus.

Thirdly, you don’t have to deal with roommates or suitemates or even people living on your floor. I’ll elaborate with personal experiences/stories of mine. I had a roommate who was pretty much non-existent as she was barely in the room ever and when she was, she always either had her boyfriend and/or her other friends over and they would stay over ALL NIGHT LONG. Even when I was trying to sleep or study, they would ALWAYS stay and talk loudly. tenor-4.gifDon’t even get me started on my suitemate. She always held drinking parties in her room and also always had people over in the late hours of the night. Ughhhh. She also hated my roommate and I, so getting along with her was pleasant (haha).

And then there’s the people on my floor who would scream randomly in the middle of the night for no apparent reason and throw skittles under our door (WHY?). Anyway, when you’re a commuter, you can just sleep peacefully and quietly in your own room and then study in your own space with no problems or issues whatsoever. 1.jpgNow I don’t have to worry about getting along with people or making friends with the people you’re forced to live with.

Lastly, you just get the joy of being able to see your family every single day. Even if you might find your family annoying, you probably still love them and miss them if you’re not living at home. I know I got so homesick the first day I moved on campus that I even told my dad to pick me up and take me back home the next day. It was hard for me to stay away from my family for so long, and I imagine it must be hard for others as well. I used to FaceTime my parents and brother all the time when I dormed. But now that I live at home, I can just see them in person when I get back home from classes and instantly become happy, no matter how bad my day was. giphy-13.gif

Being a commuter wasn’t exactly my choice, but I’m glad I am. Sure it has its downsides, but then there’s its good sides which outweighs it all.

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Making My Commute Fun Through the Sound of Music

In this week’s blog post, I want to share something that I did during my commutes these last two weeks that changed them from being long and boring (and sometimes even painful!) to being more enjoyable and my highlight of the day. 1495118123_girl-driving-carI decided to play a different radio station within Spotify on my car for every single trip. What made this even more unique is that for each trip, I would type in a different letter of the alphabet (in order) and click on the first radio station that comes up and play that. Therefore, on the commute to school on October 22, I started my little game with the letter “A,” which brought up the radio station for “Aventura.” For those of you who don’t know, Aventura was a Dominican band that played bachata music, which is a type of Latin American music. Hence, the “Aventura” radio station consisted of mainly bachata music, which was a pretty nice way to keep in touch with my Hispanic roots. As for the drive back home on October 22, the letter “B” brought up the radio station for “BTS,” who are a South Korean boy band. This evidently ended up playing lots of Kpop music during this commute, and it made me realize that I really love BTS.

 

I just think it’s simply amazing to listen to music in other languages besides English, so I appreciated my little game introducing me to new genres while making the drive more bearable. I ended up doing this game up to this past Friday (November 2) and made it to the letter “V,” which ended up being “V’s Join Me” radio station – a radio station based solely on BTS member V’s personal playlist on Spotify – So I got to experience V’s music taste on my commute as well (HIS MUSIC TASTE IS AWESOME, BY THE WAY!).

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This is V, btw.

Anyways, for this post, I have decided to share some of my personal favorite songs that I got to discover throughout my commutes.

The first song I would like to share is “Escápate Conmigo,” by Wisin featuring Ozuna. In English the title means “Escape with Me.” This song was on the “Aventura” radio station during my drive to Rutgers and I have to say I’m really glad I got to listen to it. Pretty much everyone knows that driving in the morning is a drag because of traffic and overall tiredness. However, this song made my commute so much better. The way it goes made me feel as if I was actually driving away, escaping somewhere dramatically and not just going to school. giphy-9.gifNormally I don’t like listening to reggaeton type of music but the beats of this song kept me awake and had me pretend I was going on an exciting adventure to have the time of my life with my imaginary boyfriend.

Speaking of boyfriends, this next song that came up on the “Dua Lipa” radio station reminded me of my past experiences over the last year. I’m about to get real personal here.

When this song “no tears left to cry” by Ariana Grande came out, I was still suffering from the aftermath of a failed relationship and was really depressed, to the point where it was hard to get back to my usual routine of commuting on the train and stuff since legit everything would remind me of my ex. My ex would always pick me up from the train station or from Rutgers and as a result, commuting back home would trigger bad memories. A few months later, I still got triggered occasionally just by driving down route 1. So when this song played in my car, I happened to be driving home on route 1. But this time, I decided to attentively listen to the song and absorb its message. Ariana says she has no tears left to cry, and so I have no tears left to cry. Now whenever I drive down route 1, I just associate it with that song and its peppy beat, thinking of other happier times in my life. 4f7a9bba601590b24bddef1266876efd7ca0590ce22e91f58d42d71c31cf5209.gifI always loved Ariana and I think she’s such an inspiration, so I’m glad “no tears left to cry” was able to help me move on. tumblr_p7gwg2P4sr1ws7nwdo2_r1_540.gif

Another song that I personally liked a lot was “Dusk Till Dawn” by ZAYN and Sia. Listening to the “Ed Sheeran” radio station, I had no idea this song was going to be playing. Once it came on, it immediately had me thinking of one of those getaway movies, as it was portrayed that way in the music video.

Hence, I drove to school thinking I was one of James Bond’s associates helping him go after the bad guy. Great start to my morning that day. FirmActualChimpanzee-max-1mb.gif

One of the new songs that I got to discover was “Como Podre Disimular” by Grupo Niche. Yes, another Hispanic song, but this time it’s salsa! I grew up listening to salsa at family and friends’ parties, so I was so hyped when I heard this on the “Grupo Niche” radio station! I had no idea what the song title meant though until I googled it just now, lol (it means “how can I disguise” btw). My Spanish isn’t all that perfect, but I did like the tempo of the song and how it made me feel. I listened to it on my way to school and I wished I was on my way to a dance party instead. b777befd3265ff8f5153154ba2cc1a28.gifNever mind that, this song just brings you cheerful vibes and happy emotions just by the way it sounds. Despite the fact the song deals with heartbreak (ha!), it could definitely brighten up your mood for the day. I know it definitely made me feel great for that hour long drive to school. giphy-8

“I’m a Mess” by Bebe Rexha was another amazing song that came up on the “Halsey” radio station. Need an upbeat song that also talks about your life being a mess? This is the song for you! So this song played on my commute to home and I can totally relate to the lyrics. Even when it comes to driving, I sure am a mess haha (jk). But the fact that this song happened to play after I had a long and hard day at school, it made me feel so much better about myself. I’m not the only one dealing with crap in life like the unfortunate hour-long commute, and this song helped transform that boring commute into one where you can rock your butt off with a karaoke session. nsvjB6Really catchy song!

The last song I would like to share is “Felices los 4” by Maluma. The translation for this title is “happy the 4 of us” or “the 4 of us are happy.” I discovered the song on the “Ozuna” radio station. Not entirely sure what the song is referring to, but I gotta say it’s pretty catchy too, much like the previous song. I heard this song while going to work on this past Tuesday morning (7 am) and instantly fell in love. I never bothered to listen to this song when it came out last year so when I was forced to listen to it for my game, I realized that “wow I really should’ve listened to it last year.” Very fun and enjoyable to sing along to. giphy-11.gifReally made the drive more bearable and like the other song I mentioned, really did a good job with keeping me awake through the sound of the various beats and tempo.

And that was a brief summary of my little Spotify alphabet game. Why don’t you go ahead and give it a shot? Change that stressful commute to something more pleasurable through discovering some new music along the way! You never know what you may find and end up liking…

(P.S.: Here are some of the screenshots I took of Spotify for my little game:)

Adventure to Fairfield Farms

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On this beautiful Saturday morning (*sarcasm*), I decided to commute to Fairfield Farms in Fairfield, NJ with my best friend. I have never celebrated Halloween before, so I decided to go on an adventure to find my Halloween spirit. I heard about this place from the Internet; apparently it’s popular in New Jersey and I wanted to check it out. Fairfield Farms is a family-owned and operated business. They have been in business for the past forty years, starting off at Hollywood Ave in 1975 and then they relocated to their current location in 2000. I guess they must be doing something correct to be in business for this long.

 

The commute to Fairfield Farms was not too bad. It was very scenic and different compared to my usual commute. There were more trees and I felt more connected with nature. Although the weather was very bad, I enjoyed the drive very much. I even had a mini Ed Sheeran concert on the way there and missed many turns which made the drive even longer. It took about 90 minutes to get there but girl time with bestie made it better. We saw many dead deers, which was depressing. We also honked at kids who weren’t properly taught road side manners. They really should start teaching a mandatory class in elementary school where kids learn how to conduct themselves while walking in the streets. It would honestly make the world a better place.

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Anyway, when we got to the farm, there was only one family there. It was a family of four. They were gathering pumpkins in the rain. There were many puddles of water and it was very cold so the parents tried to keep their kids close to them, however that did not work out well for them. The kids were dirtied and soaked to the bone, but they seemed to be having a blast. The atmosphere felt very calming and the place felt very homey. The owners were very nice and accommodating to their customers’ needs. They were very friendly to us and even answered all our questions about the goods.

Exploring the farm was an enjoyable experience. Here are just some of the pictures that we took of their products and activities that they offer. They offer decorations of witches, scarecrows, and adorable painted pumpkins. They also offer hay rides and a venue for parties. They also have a farmer’s market with organic fruits and vegetables, such as squashes and apples. They also have a playground for little kids.

 

 

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On our way home, we noticed some nicely decorated homes. They were pretty beautiful but there were some that were creepy, freaky, and scary. Makes me wonder how it’s like to celebrate Halloween.

At the farm we purchased three pumpkins and decorated them at home. It was fun but difficult. I never knew how much patience it took to carve holes in a pumpkin. They came out decent, so I’m proud of my decorations.

Even though I don’t celebrate Halloween, I understand why other people do. Through my commuting adventure this week, I gained some Halloween experience and wished my parents celebrated it. It would be a good experience for my little brother.

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Driving in NJ? Texas? I recorded my commutes, this is what I got.

For this week, I decided to do the unthinkable and secretly record my commutes, using my iPhone camera and my phone holder in my car to get a clear view. To be honest, I was quite nervous doing this as I did pass by many police cars and thought I was going to get pulled over but thankfully I didn’t. I also got scared I was going to get distracted by the recording and crash instead of looking at my usual GPS but all was mostly fine. So, what’s the point of recording my commutes? Or, in other words, who cares or why should you care or give a crap? You’ll find out later in this post. Let me start by showing you the actual videos that I recorded.

The first video I recorded was of my drive from my home in Roselle, NJ (a relatively unknown town) to Rutgers. This was a time-lapse video to give an initial idea of what the drive is like. I also was experimenting with the different types of video features the iPhone offers and this happened to be the first one I tried out. What is originally a drive of approximately 51 minutes was condensed to around 37 seconds in this video:

I then decided to record my commute while going back home. I also have to mention this drive took place at night as I usually go home late after classes, so things will be a little more difficult to see unlike my other drive, which took place in the morning. In this shot, I used a combination of slo-mo and regular videos was the best option for the night:

This first video was of my commute to Rutgers this past Friday at around late 6am to mid 7am, giving an overview of how it’s like driving in the early hours of the morning:

This following video was of my commute home from RU this past Friday afternoon at around mid 2pm to early 3pm, taking route 287 south, route 1 north, and parkway north. Take note and see for yourself how (CRAZY) the traffic is like on a Friday afternoon, when everyone gets off of work and school and are ready to enjoy the weekend:

So, again, what was the point of “risking it all” to record these videos (Legit. A cop car started following me and I was nervous. Also I nearly crashed a couple times ~ oh well, do it for the ‘vine’). Well, I pretty much wanted to show the overall experience of driving in NJ. So, how do people drive in NJ? That was my question for this week, which I attempted to answer using actual video evidence. You always hear about how NJ has the worst drivers, right? Well now you can see it for yourself! Whatever constitutes of bad driving, you name it, NJ drivers have done it all. Speeding. Tailgating. Failing to put your blinker on. Cutting people off. And more! meme-honkjpg-18bad0fa86fe4a0e

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But there are worse states than NJ when it comes to driving (Gasp!), which brings me to my other point of this post.

 

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“THe tEXaS wAy” 

Texas. More specifically, driving in Texas. I lived in Texas for 7 months and have gone back to visit family many times. Throughout those times, I recorded some of the drives in order to emphasize the major differences between driving in Texas and driving in NJ, since some people didn’t believe me when I said some of the speed limits in Texas are MUCH higher than the one in NJ, and even then people still go above it. 1zy5deMy uncle even drove 90mph in a 70mph speed limit zone. That’s crazy! NpbtwZ5.jpgUnfortunately I didn’t record that, but I did record other instances of how driving in Texas is like. Here’s the best I could get.

30mph speed limit zone:

40mph speed limit zone:

50mph speed limit zone:

45mph speed limit zone:

And bonus: just for fun, I decided to post these videos from my vacation in Texas this year so you can all see the types of roads they have down there compared to here to even further emphasize the difference in driving in Texas compared to NJ. Look at what drivers in South Padre Island have to endure.

Imagine if you had to drive with sand on the road and sand dunes on both sides of you. This area is prone to hurricanes as it is near the Gulf of Mexico, so if there is a high gust of wind from a hurricane and you happen to be caught in the middle of this, you’re dead. Done for. Adios amigo.

But anyway, the point of this post was to showcase driving in NJ and driving in Texas through my own videos of the drives. NJ has some pretty bad drivers, not gonna lie, but Texas has even worse drivers (based on my own experiences) and probably worse conditions (sometimes – I’m not forgetting when we have to drive in snow in NJ!). The differences in the types of environments to drive in are also evident through these videos. Overall, these were the results I got from recording my commutes and I did my best to be able to exhibit them to you all as much as I could. Until next time…

 

Survival Tips: The Hunger Games Guide to Commuting

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. tenor-3Which 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. 4qum.gifLet’s begin.

Survival Tip #1: Car – If you are commuting to Rutgers (or literally anywhere) from Southern New Jersey, LEAVE EARLY!garden-state-parkway-49b4ef47daea1aad

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. gsp-lkwd-traffic-tls.jpgEven 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. gsp_sb_exit_130_02Then 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. nj-tranist-memec69idtxxaaa069y

(Hint: trains going to Newark/New York are NORTHBOUND and trains going to Trenton are SOUTHBOUND) 2014.01.23.140256_Sign_Metropark_train_station_Iselin_NJ.jpgFrom 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. crowding-onto-a-crowded-train-npsjpeg-85187f966a5e8f2e.jpegIf 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.’ QuietCommute090810.jpg

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. DBwWsiyUAAEn5Dt.jpgWhich 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. thank-you-funny-crying-meme-picture.jpegSometimes 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! img_7612

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. image-21In 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. packed-busHenceforth, 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.

 

The Best Ways to Utilize Apps for Commuting

After a very long week for me and many others due to midterms and depression, I figured it was time to write a (hopefully helpful) post about apps that can be useful for commuting. giphy-5.gifThrough the last couple of years or so, I have experimented with many apps that either added a positive effect to my commuting experience or that made my commute more bearable. Whether you commute by car, train, or even just by taking the Rutgers buses, these apps could work for you, so why not give this post a read? maxresdefaultHere are some of the apps that I have found beneficial for commuting in general:

1. Waze

share-image.pngThe full name of this app is Waze Navigation & Live Traffic (according to the App Store), and that is what it exactly does. Waze_4.3_iPhone_appWaze is a GPS app that helps you to avoid traffic for your commute, thus helping you to save time and get to your destination faster. Waze also warns you about nearby police so you can be prepared, know when you have to slow down, and actually obey the rules of the road. Plus, Waze notifies you of hazards on the road, such as if a car is stopped on the shoulder of the road or actually stopped on the road, along with if there is fog or flooding ahead, accidents, an object or pothole on the road, and even if there are animals nearby like deers. Just the other day on my way to Rutgers, Waze notified me of roadkill on Route 1, which came in handy as my car was close to hitting that. Additionally, Waze has an option where it can tell you when to leave so you can always arrive on time. It is also very convenient when it comes to finding nearby parking lots. So thank you Waze!

2. Transit

246x0wTransit is an app that basically tracks down bus and subway times, thus helping you to navigate cities such as NYC if you are commuting to and/or from there. unnamedSimilarly to Waze, Transit tells you the best route to take for your destination in terms of which bus or train to take and when. Transit also has a Bikeshare option, where users are able to borrow bikes and use them for their commute. Plus, there is an Uber option where users can request an Uber ride directly from the Transit app. Transit can also notify you of disruptions affecting your potential ride(s) so you can be ready. For New Jersey, Transit has the option of showing real time NJ Transit bus and train schedules. So it can come in handy if you ever have to take a trip to NYC or even a nearby town through the use of public transportation.

3. Rider

transloc-rider-app-icon.pngRider, otherwise known as TransLoc Rider, is a transit tracking app for specific bus systems, including that of Rutgers. TransLoc-Rider-iPhone-Arrival-Predictions.pngWith this app in particular, you can actually see the Rutgers buses move on a map, so that way you know where the buses exactly are. You can also set up alarms/alerts for when your particular bus is arriving. I just got this app about two weeks ago and I have to say that I prefer it over the original Rutgers app. This app works faster and can be more accurate at times. So if the Rutgers app isn’t working, then use this one!

4. Headspace

headspace-app-logo-fitted-900x754Stressed out from your commute and need a break? Well have no fear as the Headspace: Meditation app is here! 643x0w.jpgI originally used this app for my Abnormal Psychology Lab class, but I have found that it indeed comes in handy for me and my 200 miles a week commute. The Headspace app is one that basically provides you with guided meditation or mindfulness meditation in order to help you relax and unwind from your long day. As a person who suffers from chronic anxiety and depression, doing mindfulness meditation with the Headspace app after coming back home from Rutgers helps a lot. All you have to do is take a few minutes from your day and listen to what the app tells you to do. This could consist of breathing exercises, letting your thoughts go, and more. So instead of letting the stress of your drive or even the unreliability and overcrowded-ness of the Rutgers buses get to you, give this app a try! As a Psychology major, I have to say that you should always take care of your mental health first. giphy-6.gif

5. Scoop

246x0w-2Scoop – Carpool with Co-Workers is basically a carpooling app. Scoop.pngIt’s apparently more cheaper than Uber and Lyft. In this app, users can be accommodated with convenience as they can schedule rides to their liking with the option of either being the rider or the driver. For example, along the way to work from home, an individual can pick up their coworkers using this app and even get paid for it. The individual gets notified of their coworkers who are on their route and when to pick them up. Scoop can come in handy for people who want to save money and make the most of their time commuting by interacting with others.

And that’s pretty much some of the apps that I have found beneficial for commuting. If you know of any other apps that can also be great for the commute, feel free to comment below! Overall, if you bothered to read this post, then thank you for taking the time to read this post and I truly hope that these apps are of good use to you. thank-you-meme-01.jpg

How “Low” Can Commuting Go?

“The daily activity that contributes most to happiness is having dinner with friends. The daily activity that detracts most from happiness is commuting. Eat more. Commute less.”

– David Brooks

That has got to be the life motto for a person who has to commute by either train or car. I definitely should have listened more to that motto this past week. Did I mention I almost got into a car accident this past week while trying to change lanes in order to be able to get to Busch Campus (which is the campus I have to park on) before I miss the exit? Yes, gotta love it when people speed (NOT! As the person who almost crashed into me was speeding up behind me). when-somebody-tailgates-me-while-im-speeding-105357Especially when it comes to driving near Rutgers, as I have noticed that for some reason, people tend to speed more at Rutgers. For example, whenever I drive on that lane/ramp that takes you to Busch Campus, I always go around 30 mph. Now in reality, the actual speed limit for that lane/ramp is around 20-25 mph but I always go 30 mph and then sometimes I feel forced to go up to 35 mph. Why, you may ask? Tailgating. -commuting-205163.jpgI absolutely hate it when cars tailgate me. Like why are you driving so close to me? Then I feel compelled to speed up in order to keep the car behind me away a certain distance.  So, instead of tailgating, people can, you know, FOLLOW THE SPEED LIMIT!

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And this is why you shouldn’t tailgate!

Along with those other important laws of the road. I am sure there must be at least one law or rule about keeping a specific distance away from the car in front of you while driving.

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And this is why you should always keep a safe distance: to avoid freak accidents like that!

Now, imagine a sort of game of limbo where instead of seeing “how ‘low’ can YOU go?,” you see “how ‘low’ can the act of COMMUTING go?,” with “low” basically meaning “how bad can commuting get?”

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This GIF happens to be from a video game called Limbo, which I thought would fit accurately with my limbo game’s theme of “how bad can commuting get?”

Thus, what I mean is that for this particular game of limbo, the limbo bar would represent a sort of midway point, where the lower half of the midway point would represent the worst of commuting (with the absolute bottom near the floor being the worst of all) and the upper half of the midway point would represent the best (with the absolute top near the ceiling being the best of all). In a way, this unique game of limbo would be similar to a ranking system.

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Think of this unique game of limbo according to this system, where the bottom with the sad face (red being the worst) is bad and the top with the happy face (green being the best) is good.

Henceforth, that little anecdote of my highlight of the week is just one of the “lows” that I have experienced personally. So, “how ‘low’ can commuting go?” indeed? I will start off with another anecdote. I believe it was earlier this year when spring semester started. It was winter, so of course there was the expected freezing cold and occasional bad weather. 0*CuIufkUeRUCb3bs_..pngHowever, there was this one particular day where it got really bad. I did not exactly have morning classes, but I always liked to take the train to school early in order to have time to do work and/or study on campus before my classes. Though, on this one day, it had already started snowing earlier that morning, and it was getting heavier by the minute. giphy-3.gifMy mom dropped me off at the train station like any other day and I merely expected the typical 10 to 15 minute delay, but what I saw was something even worse. HOUR DELAYS.train-delay That’s right, not even the 6:29am train or the 6:38am train had arrived yet (it was around 7:00am when I arrived at the train station). In my mind, I was thinking “NO WAY, THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING!” tenor-2.gifMind you, on this day I had to be at work at Cook/Douglass Campus by 8:15am the latest, which meant that I had to make it at a certain time to College Avenue Campus (since that is where the New Brunswick Train Station is located at) in order to catch either an EE or F bus. Plus, I happen to live around 30 to 40 minutes away from campus, where it would normally take 30 minutes by train to get from the Elizabeth Train Station to the New Brunswick one. Not on this day though. This day was just horrible. image.jpgI ended up taking one of the 6am trains that arrived at Elizabeth at around 7:15am to 7:20am and then legit ran for an EE bus that happened to be coming just as the train arrived at New Brunswick (around 7:50am to 8:00am). giphy-4.gifI would say that is how “low” commuting has gotten for me so far, in terms of the train. As for car, I would say the “low” that commuting has gotten for me so far is the car accident that I almost had, as mentioned earlier. Though, an example of a “low” of commuting could be when someone arrives on campus and attempts to look for a parking spot in the very limited parking lots at Rutgers, and cannot find a spot or has to park very far away, which then leads to them having to run to class while it also happens to be raining heavily, as mentioned by one of my commenters on my last post. 6357762838502268611575028511_commuter.imgopt1000x70.jpgUnfortunate bad luck. Another example of a “low” of commuting could be when the professors and/or the college (aka Rutgers) do not have simple logic on what to do when there is a predicted bad snowstorm on the way, with many warnings, and still proceed to hold class, not taking into consideration that a number of students do not live on campus and have to travel in such dangerous conditions in order to make it to the class, thus putting their own lives in danger. snow-bomb-new-york.gifOverall, there are many “lows” when it comes to commuting. There may be some “highs,” such as saving money, but there will always be at least one “low” that will outweigh that one “high.”

How Commuting is Like a School Bully

Commuting. It is like a college student’s worst nightmare. Constantly having to travel back and forth between home and school or between home and work at school (if you work on campus) gets overbearing over time, especially if you live a long distance away. 636028548226250516-1422339784_6342a8a0-265d-0133-46fd-0a2ca390b447Imagine having to run for your life as soon as you get off the bus at Scott Hall because your train departs in five minutes and the next one will not come until an hour later. Also, it happens to be late at night and your train station in your home town is not the place you necessarily want to be in alone late at night. Does not sound like a pleasant experience, does it? YFxYx2M.gifNow, imagine you get out of your class at Hill Center at 8pm and you missed the 7:57pm H bus so now you have to wait for the next bus, which will not come for 20 or so minutes (since the Rutgers buses at night are less frequent) and your train departs at 8:24pm. No way you are making that train on time, so you end up taking the 9:07pm train and you do not make it home until around 10 o’clock that night, which is really late and you still have homework to do. Such unfortunate circumstances. g1365545645212685809.jpgThose are just a few of my experiences that I endured when I commuted to Rutgers by train my sophomore year. Commuting by train kicked my butt every day, just like how a school bully kicks some poor kid’s butt every day. tenor.gifYou know how a school bully pretty much owns a student’s life in school? Well, a similar thing happens in commuting, whether by train or by car. Commuting owned my life by train, and now it owns it by car. How so, you might ask? Through numerous ways, I would answer. santana-crying-gif.gifI was personally bullied in middle school, and even those experiences would compare to the ones I went through commuting in my second year of college and my third year so far. In school bullying, there is an imbalance of power as the bully is the one who has more power or control over the victim. The same goes for commuting as one cannot be in control of the train schedule or if there is traffic when one decides to drive on the highways. anigif_enhanced-20101-1411430039-1.gifAlso in school bullying, there is often a repeat of the harassment every day over a certain period of time. In commuting, one obviously has to travel to and from home and school every day for as long as they have class. In both cases of school bullying and commuting, this can get very tedious. chronic-fatigue-syndrome-main-1515511442Lastly, there is the distress that both the victims of bullying and commuters go through as a result of their experiences. In the case of school bullying, the victims go through more distress associated with trauma while in the case of commuting, the commuters go through more distress associated with making it to class on time, actually finding a seat on the train or a parking spot on campus, not getting back home too late, and etc. As a person who was a victim of school bullying and is currently a commuter, I would say the aftermath is really similar in terms of having a lack of friends, constantly being lonely all the time, and always being worried about something. anigif_enhanced-25121-1407792939-21However, just like there are solutions to overcoming school bullying, there are also solutions to overcoming commuting. What I learned over these past years is that in order to “beat” commuting, you always have to plan ahead and try to be prepared for the worst. I also learned to try to make the best of your time commuting and think positively, no matter how bad it gets. So overall, I learned to not let commuting aka the “bully” keep one’s spirits down. 130218_optimism-cIt is all about adjusting to your circumstances and learning how to overcome obstacles.

Mission Statement

Hello! My name is Sam and I am a current junior at Rutgers, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Health and Society. I also happen to be one of those students who unfortunately has to commute to Rutgers every single day, so I know the struggles of commuting. bfe2dff9643c4b614652e3d457d0c4fd--office-spaces-office-space-meme

In fact, I very much know of the struggles of commuting through both car and train as I commuted by train last year and am now commuting by car this year. 4619805

I also dormed my freshman year, so I have some experience of living on campus and living away from campus, which brings me to the point of this blog.

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Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

The blog is going to be about my personal experiences commuting to Rutgers by train my sophomore year after living on campus my freshman year, along with my current experience commuting to Rutgers by car my junior year. The blog aims to share what a Rutgers student has gone through commuting and even dorming, and hopes to be relatable to other Rutgers students out there, along with offering some tips based on what this Rutgers student has learned in the past few years from both dorming and commuting by car and train. In numerous ways, I will be sharing different points of view of college life based on my prior experiences, while at the same time suggesting helpful tips to those that go through the same or similar experiences, which is practically why this blog exists. Though, my ultimate intention for the blog is to get my unique story out there and hope that in some way, I can lend a helping hand to my fellow Rutgers students. Ultimately, I want to create something that will stand out online for the better and maybe have an impact in someone’s life. giphy.gif