Making the most of your uni commute

The University of Newcastle attracts students from all over NSW and not all of us live close to the campus where we’re studying! Commuting as a student can be exhausting but it doesn’t have to be a waste of time and energy. There are a few things you can do to get the most out of your commute. 

Learn a new skill

Consider using your travel time to learn something new, especially if that skill could give you an edge in your degree. For example, as a Visual Communication Design student, I like to listen to 3D Modelling tutorials when I’m travelling. By doing this, I’ll already be familiar with the software by the time I encounter it in class. Drawing, coding and even learning new languages are all popular choices you could think about picking up. You can even find tutorials and classes for free, in places like LinkedIn Learning or YouTube. 


Commuting to uni is an excellent chance to catch up on course work. You can use Canvas to listen to lecture recordings, review course materials or check out any other resources your tutor has posted. Your commute can be a great opportunity to go over your lecture or tutorial notes as well. The most effective way to study on the train is to pop in some ear plugs or headphones and sit in the quiet carriage. Make sure you download anything you want to work on before you leave. Reception on the trains can be spotty at best and the only way to get around this is to work offline! 

Woman reading a notebook on a train

Find a travel buddy

One of the great things about uni is how it combines your social and academic life but when you’re a commuting student, it can sometimes feel like you’re missing out! One great way around this is to find a person or people who travel in the same direction as you. You’ll get to make friends with people who are local to you and you could even form a travelling study group! 

Some Practicalities

Knowing how to use your time is all well and good but there are some important courtesy and safety-related things to keep in mind! 


  • Use your headphones with the volume on low or one ear uncovered. Some trains use voice announcements instead of visual cues to tell you which stop is coming next. 
  • Stay aware of your surroundings. Remember, you’re in a public space! 
  • Memorise your route or have it written down, so you know which stop comes directly before yours. 


  • Fall asleep without setting an alarm. You do not want to lose your stop to a power nap! 
  • Wait until you’re at your stop to pack up. Always be ready to leave one stop before yours.  
  • Rely too heavily on the Opal app. Where possible, it’s best to listen to station staff or train announcements for updates. 
Sign saying "thank you have a safe journey"
Most importantly of all, stay safe!

Hopefully these tips have given you some ideas on what to do with your commute and with any luck, you’ll never be bored again! 

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