So you’ve decided to become a postgraduate. The funding’s in place, interviews are in the bag and your acceptance letter’s sitting proudly on top of the mantelpiece.
If your new course is at a different university to the one that you studied at as an undergraduate, or you’ve taken a few years out, there’s still another big decision to make. Do you relocate?
I personally decided to stay put in my home city of Bristol and commute to Cardiff for my course. Here are the pros and cons.
There’s no denying it, socialising accounts for a lot at university, even at postgraduate level. Meeting new people and bonding over a few pints at the pub or a cup of coffee is important. It’s a daunting prospect starting a postgrad course, so sharing the experience is a great help.
Travelling to and from Cardiff by train, I was always restricted by timetables and frequent delays, so more often than not I’d have to leave early. At times this was a pain, but my tether to First Great Western was also a blessing. Not only did I have an excuse to get home and complete the mountains of work ahead, but it also meant I could maintain the relationships I’d developed in Bristol as well as those in Cardiff.
It costs to commute. With limited funds propping you up over the period of your postgrad course it’s worth remembering how much regular train fares or petrol prices can make a dent in your pocket.
But rental prices outside of a university town or city can often be quite a bit cheaper. You’ll definitely save money by not continuing to live as you did as an undergraduate student too – which, let’s face it – can be fairly hedonistic!
My memories of trying to make it to 9am lectures aren’t the best. They involved a 6.30am start, a sinking feeling every time the delay sign flashed up on the station departures board and overwhelming envy when my course mates would stroll in having just rolled out of bed 20 minutes previous. The same thing could be said for late night finishes too.
As a journalism student, the need to stay late mimicking deadlines did mean that on more than one occasion I missed the last train home opting for the world’s most over-priced taxi or a spot on a friend’s floor.
Although lectures were difficult to factor in, assignments definitely flourished with my decision to commute. Not only did I have more time and space, there were also far fewer distractions.
With the nature of my course, spending time in two cities meant I also had a lot more to write about. This wealth of interview subjects and interesting events really contributed to my success at postgraduate level.
Gone are the days of the dirty dish balancing act. Say goodbye to the random on the sofa, the sticky carpet and the impossible task of collecting rent from a houseful of skint students. Say hello to a fridge full of your own food and to knowing that everything that comes out of the washing machine is yours.
The end of student accommodation is a welcome pleasure and for me the option to live in a great house away from university was a crucial factor in my decision to commute.
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