Limerick Voice Reporter, Lucy Edith Kiiza, speaks to UL commuter student, Naem Haq, about his day to day commuting struggles.
Naem Haq, a first-year student of software engineering at the University of Limerick, commutes every day from his home in Ennis, County Clare, to college.
When the alarm clock goes off at 5:30am, Naem doesn’t have much time to waste as he must prepare to grab his one-hour bus to Limerick.
“I leave my house by 6:45am to get the bus so that by 8am I’m at college,” Naem said. “This helps me reach prior to my class and also avoid the traffic.”
With the subpar transport system in Ireland, compared to other European countries, Naem says he sometimes misses the bus that only comes once an hour, and has to resort to taking the train to avoid missing class.
“I’m only 17-years-old and can’t drive. On my course we study from 9am to 6pm, but are also assigned readings and group projects which end at 9pm. I love to participate in clubs and socities – I’m part of the rugby and badminton clubs which usually run up to 10:45pm. This means I grab the 11pm bus and arrive home at midnight most nights.”
This daily struggle has greatly affected Naem’s social life and further participation in clubs and societies.
Naem said: “I have to miss out on making great memories with my friends at college because I always have to leave early to head home.”
However, Naem finds the daily travelling the most challenging aspect of all. “The journey I make every day is draining. Even when I am physically well, mentally I’m drained all the time. I sleep on the bus all the time and when I get home, I’m too tired to study.”
With his current schedule, Naem only sleeps for five hours per night: “I sleep less than a normal person should, and this leads to me taking short naps during the day. I usually sleep on the bean bags in our building and am often woken up by my fellow students or lecturers.”
The accommodation survey conducted last year by UL Student Life showed that 30 per cent of students at UL commute. A commuter hub has been opened at the university to accommodate commuters who come to school early in the morning and need a place to settle in as they wait for their classes.
Ronan Cahill, President of Student Life said: “With the cost of living and accommodation crisis in the country it is very tough for commuting students, it totally changes their university experience.
“We created the initiative of the commuter hub to provide free breakfast for these students arriving early in campus to make them comfortable and prepare them for the day. This hub runs from Monday to Wednesday every week.”
Cahill believes the hub not only provides breakfast but also gives the students an opportunity to make friends and interact. He said: “The Hub accommodates over 180 students every week, so this creates an environment for these students to meet each other. It is hard for them to make friends outside their classes but with the hub a sense of togetherness is created amongst them.”
Student Life promises to lobby the university to get more accommodation and also provide funding to make the commuter hub permanent.