Tag: Train

Update on My Commuter Life

Update on My Commuter Life


The first semester has almost come to a close and with that, I have learned how to adjust to commuting well (Note: this is the first time I am using public transportation to get to school). There have been some interesting moments I have encountered along the way via the CTA. You meet people of ALL kinds-those that are loud, funny, rude, kind, and strange and sometimes there are occurrences that happen. Everyday, going to and from school, is a mystery; you do not know what exactly to expect not can you be prepared for it. For me, I actually enjoy the uncertainty because it makes life more interesting/on-the-edge, as my current life is a bit “bland” in my opinion. Yes, sometimes things may be dangerous and there definitely are people to take caution in, especially anywhere public, but I know how to defend myself as I am a black belt in martial arts and have enough common sense to make the right actions and decisions.

As winter quickly approaches, I am quite pleased to not have to deal with the snow and blizzards while commuting as it is uncomfortable and difficult to get from place to place. Commuting is casual; weather is not an issue at the moment yet. (When there is snow, I surely will blog about that!). Besides weather, I have learned that timing is everything. The train WILL NOT wait for you, therefore you must catch up with it. Sometimes in the morning, when I see the train lights and the crossing bar go down on the street, I often sprint (getting my morning jog) to the train stop and well as running up and down the stairs of Belmont to transfer to the red line.

In a way, commuter life is not that difficult to deal with. Sometimes it can be fun and enjoyable!

Mastering the Trains: Amtrak and Metra Edition

Mastering the Trains: Amtrak and Metra Edition

As college students in the city, public transportation has become our best friend. Obviously the easy access to trains and buses is a huge benefit for all of us living here, but before you get the hang of it all you’ve got some learning to do.

The CTA will get you anywhere you need to go within the city, but when it comes to traveling farther distances you’ll need to master the ways of Amtrak and Metra.

Amtrak trains will take you anywhere in the country. Union Station is Chicago’s Amtrak station (and home to a few Metra lines), which is a little intimidating on your first trip. When you get to the station your first step is to go downstairs. Then look for the train arrival and departure schedules to find what gate your train is departing from. If you get a little turned around don’t be afraid to ask, it happens to the best of us.

A little Amtrak disclaimer, while it may seem like a good idea to get there at least an hour before your train leaves–Amtrak is almost always late. It’s safe to bet you won’t leave until a half an hour after your scheduled time so be sure to bring something to do while you wait.

Metra, on the other hand, is ALWAYS on time. I have missed one… or maybe five Metra trains because I showed up a minute or so after their departure times. Missing a train is just as heartbreaking the fifth time as it is the first, do your best to save yourself the heartache and leave extra early for Metra.

The Metra train lines are much shorter than Amtrak and will only take you to the outskirts of the Chicagoland area. I’ve taken advantage of them to visit friends who go to school in the suburbs because it is a cheap and easy way to travel. The trickiest part of Metra is that depending on what “line” you take–which direction you are headed–there is a different Chicago station. Metra seems to enjoy hiding their downtown stations underground off Michigan Avenue (Millenium Station), in what looks like a shopping mall (Oglivie Station), or tucked away in Union Station. Because you know your train will be pulling out of the station exactly on time be sure to know exactly where the station you are departing from is located.

One other tip–when buying tickets for Amtrak make sure to buy them online pretty far in advance, then either have you ticket printed out or opened on your smart phone when you depart. Metra tickets are bought at the station before you leave. If you are traveling over the weekend buy a Weekend Pass which is $7 for as many trips as you need. If you arrive too late to buy a ticket before boarding you can buy your ticket after you get on, but it’ll cost you a little extra.

Once you master Chicago’s train systems you will feel like a true local. It will just take some practice. I hope that you make it through your freshman year without missing as many trains as I did.

Week Two!

Week Two!

We’re halfway through week two of school everybody! Happy belated Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Because I only have classes three days a week, and I had a four-day weekend, I’m still not quite in school mode yet.

Now that I have experienced every class, I am very pleased that all of my professors seem solid, and getting up and going to class isn’t too much of a hassle. My workload is slowly expanding, and it’ll be interesting to see how on top of my work I stay since I have four night classes (out of six total). I know from experience that night classes give you room to feel like you have an entire week to do the assignments, but this is not a smart idea, especially since I have two night classes in a row on Mondays.

Along with the transition to back-to-school, I’m am trying to maintain my resolutions. For the most part they have been good, and I had my first in-person interview for an internship today. I’ll post later this week on how it went.

There is one resolution that I am struggling with already, and I haven’t even begun it yet, which is my vlog. I haven’t yet had adequate time to devise a plan of action for how to accomplish this resolution, so I may not be able to start it for another month or so. I will try to start a vlog this weekend, but if it doesn’t work out, I plan on extending my time limit to before Spring Break. I will succeed though!

Other than keeping up with my studies and applying for internships, I’m doing everything to keep my stress level down while the workload hasn’t become completely overwhelming. A tip for the day to help de-stress, courtesy of my boss and Admission Counselor, Adam Buller, is to take some time out of your day to focus all of your attention on something small, such as doing some cleaning.

Personally, I like to cook when I’m feeling overwhelmed because it takes my mind completely off of my day’s malfunctions. Other things I do include washing the dishes, reorganizing my things, or taking 10 minutes to listen to new songs I’ve fallen in love with. Two current picks are “Killin It” by Krewella and “Mermaid” by Train.

(As a side note, Krewella is a dubstep music group that was founded by two girls that went to my high school, one of which was in my graduating class. I’ve recently been introduced to their music by my best friend, and in support of them, I’m giving them a mention in my blog, not as paid sponsorship. Take a listen and if you like them, show some support).