Going the distance: a look at commuting students

Lena Bianchi, Head of illustration

During the time it might take one to get ready for school, going through one’s leisurely routine, many fellow students from outside of the city have been awake for hours in order to catch the bus and make it to school on time.

While many students at The Urban School live in San Francisco or have grown up in the city, students come from all over the Bay Area and experience the city in different ways. An obstacle they experience every weekday is the commute from outside of San Francisco. Students trek from all over the Bay Area in order to attend The Urban School.

Nicholas Tachibana (‘20), who lives in Palo Alto and commutes an average of four and a half hours a day, mentioned that his distance from school added a strain on his free time and his sleep schedule.

“It’s tough because I get up at 5:45 and get home really late as well. It is manageable, but I wouldn’t have that much free time. However, during the extra time [on the train], I try to get homework done,” said Tachibana. With less time to focus on personal life, school became the main focus of his time in San Francisco.

Spending time with friends from the city or attending events in San Francisco becomes a hassle when you have to figure out how to get into the city. Catherine Sunding (‘21), only a few months into her freshmen year, commutes from San Anselmo. “Most people live in the city, so it’s hard to find people who don’t. It has not changed my experience around making friends too much, besides when I can’t get a ride into the city to hang out,” she said.

While commuting might be a struggle to some, Anna Krylova (‘20), a South Bay resident, said she is fortunate “to be closer to my friends in Half Moon Bay…I get to hang out towards the beach and it also distances you from school, and not seeing people on my days off.” Attending school in a different city is not foreign to Krylova. “I’ve been commuting my whole life, so I don’t really have anything to judge it against,” she said about building commuting into her schedule.

With complex bus maps and higher prices, San Francisco becomes a maze with an endless amount of possibilities. “My biggest problem is not knowing where things are and having to figure things out,” said Josh Bardwick (‘21) who commutes from Mill  Valley. Despite the conflict, exploring the layout of a whole new city creates vast educational opportunities.

While some students have only recently started traveling into the city, Andrea Castaneda (‘18) is in her fourth year of commuting to and from San Francisco and has seen a drastic change in the traffic correlated with the increase of prices in the city. She said, “In the morning the commute has gotten horrible. The rising rent prices in the city, and with everybody moving out into the East Bay, a usual commute is much longer.” With all the challenges and difficulties that might come with getting into San Francisco for school, Castaneda said it has taught her “More responsibility with school work and better time management. Now that I have a job, I have to manage my time wisely between school, getting up on time, getting enough sleep, working, and figuring out my entire schedule.”

As students continue to commute from all over the Bay Area, they face daily individual challenges. However, they end up pushing through the long commute to arrive at The Urban School every morning.