Juliana Todesco is a San Diego State University alumni (12′) who majored in Psychology with a minor in Spanish and Business Administration. She lived in Poway, CA with her parents for her first two years of college while completing two major related internships, before moving onto campus her Junior year. Juliana was an active member of university organizations including, Greek Life, SDSU Ambassadors, Rotaract, Associated Students and Aztec Pride all the while creating countless relationships with students and faculty. Juliana now works as a Project Manager for a San Diego based international business and happily resides in Pacific Beach, CA.
The morning drive to college seems a bit off. We’ve all watched the movies and heard the stories of dorm life where students get to roll out of bed and stroll to class; but then here I am waking up almost two hours before my class to make sure I beat traffic and get a parking spot. Living off campus defies what we’ve been told about college and that’s why it seems so strange. In the weeks approaching my start at SDSU I thought about this constantly, will I make friends? Should I pack a lunch? Should I come home during my break? How am I going to fit in on this huge campus if I’m driving to school everyday? I was able to break free from all these questions by devising a simple strategy, get outside of my comfort zone by meeting other students and stay on campus as long as I can.
Meeting other students can be intimidating and feel odd but this is the time to do it for two reasons: the first, and most obvious, is you’re commuting, so making friends will be a little more difficult than someone who is living in the dorms, thus it takes effort. Secondly, keep in mind that being a freshman is exciting and practically everyone is trying to meet new people so other students will be pretty open to getting to know you. Building friendships on campus will make you feel like you have an added connection. Of course, the best place to build said friendships is through class. Talk to the person you sit next to, if they’re not friendly sit somewhere else the next day. Ask if these people want to study after class, complete some homework together or meet up to discuss a paper. One of my best friendships started out in this way and it added a wonderful level of camaraderie to my campus experience. Meeting people on campus will give you an extra reason to want to be on campus.
Before you establish friendships and other commitments, you may find yourself wandering alone and you’ll want to go home or go do other activities but really the only other thing that should keep you off campus is work. If you do work, then try to make your schedule allow for long periods of time on campus or consider working on campus, thus making your drive a double whammy. Spending more time at your university is crucial if you commute; it allows you to build a better bond with the university and to use all the amazing resources it boasts. If you commute, I implore you to purposely include a large break between some classes at least twice a week. This will give you the opportunity to study in the library and perhaps meet up with some of those new friends and allow you time for involvement. After commuting for a few weeks as a freshman my parents urged me to do more on campus. My involvement began through my major, Psychology. Most majors have a plethora of opportunities for its students; all you have to do is work up the guts to walk into the department office and say you want to get involved. Once you’ve completed that first step it’s smooth sailing; you just have to decide what you want to do. Don’t stop here though! This is just your major department; there are literally hundreds of more involvement opportunities through departments called, something along the lines of, “Student Life and Leadership”. As a commuter student this will add yet another level of interaction with your campus.
The point of all of this is that commuting to school is undesirable, especially if you leave it at that, going to school and going home. Many of us don’t have a choice and must commute so our choice lies within what we do once we get on campus. Make sure you make that drive worthwhile.