Life as a Commuter Student at Notre Dame de Namur University

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’m more than familiar with Silicon Valley heavy traffic. Now, I live in Santa Clara, California, and commute to Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU) in Belmont. While the trip is only 40 minutes in a car with no traffic, it can be more than an hour during peak times. Drivers can be angry and aggressive, and your Spotify playlist can only help you so much. I need a way to stay sane. Nobody wants to arrive on campus already pulling out her hair.

Student commuter Samantha Rupel

NDNU commuter student Samantha Rupel

I prefer to ride my bike in the morning—the cool air is a refreshing way to wake up—but I am not about to ride 25 miles to the Belmont campus and 25 miles home. Riding to the Sunnyvale train station is only four miles and saves me a few bucks cutting out an extra zone and then it’s only a mile up Ralston Avenue to our wooded little campus.

I love taking Caltrain—I think it’s relaxing. You get to chat with fellow commuters about the latest Cirque du Soleil show, read a book, listen to music, stare out the window, drink your coffee, and snack on a cheese danish without worrying about running into the car in front of you or getting pulled over.

I am a procrastinator, so I often work on my homework on the train. I can download my Google Doc and pop my headphones in, or crack open a book. I only carry the small ones on the train, though—nobody wants to carry a textbook around all day. Especially when you are already carrying your lunch and dinner, your laptop, a sweater, water bottle, coffee mug, purse, chargers, etc.

If your class schedule isn’t as smooth as Morgan Freeman’s voice, there are multiple places to set up shop in or near campus. On campus, there’s the commuter lounge and the library. If you’re looking for an off-campus coffee house vibe, Peets is right down Ralston Avenue from NDNU, you can grab a cup of joe or tea (If you are a friend of Queen Elizabeth). If you have a long break and you want to grab a pint at Fieldwork, they have a very cute outdoor area with a bocce court, picnic tables, amazing food, and quality wifi only two miles from campus.

In short, the life of a commuter student can provide exercise and entertainment, and it doesn’t necessarily involve traffic jams.

Samantha Rupel is a senior in the Communication Department at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, California. She is currently an intern with the Marketing and Communications Department and enjoys writing sassy blogs for her patient and understanding university.

For information on applying to Notre Dame de Namur University, please visit the Admissions page.

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