Monday, May 9, 2011

Taking the Bus to Work

Although I thought my bus riding days were done at the end of 8th grade, I am back to riding the bus every day to work.   (Readers, insert your ‘short bus’ comments here. I will give you a few seconds.)

So far, I have had mixed reactions to using public transportation (SprinterBus) for my daily commute from Borken to Munster for the last two weeks.  Here is a breakdown on the pros and cons of using public transportation in a foreign country.



Each day, I estimated I was spending €15.00 in gas to drive to Munster.   Although I am not required to do so, I signed up with the University as a student for a semester fee of €206.00.  (American readers, you are reading this correctly.  That’s how much it costs per semester.) 

This semester pass gives students free bus and train tickets anywhere, anytime in the region of Western Germany for the next six months.  After two weeks of bus rides and our train tickets to Berlin, the semester pass has already paid for itself.  As a finance student, I am really excited about the return on this investment.* 

*And yes, I’ve started a spreadsheet to compute the overall savings of having a student pass over the next 6 months to keep track of the results. 


I’m determined to use the time on the bus to get work done.  It’s essentially two hours each day that can be wasted or used to be productive.  I can get a lot of uninterrupted reading and work time in if I come prepared for the ride.   Unfortunately, this component is in intense competition with ‘Con Number 1,’ Motion Sickness. 

Freak Other People Out. 

If you get bored, you can really freak other people out on the bus.  You can stare at them from across the aisle or even better if they are sitting directly next to you.  That’s even better because they are sitting directly next to you, it means the bus is packed and they can’t get up and move seats. 

Also fun is sitting directly next to someone on an empty bus.  I haven’t actually sat down and stayed, but have asked someone to move their bag over as a joke.  How do you say ‘just kidding’ in German?

You must be careful with how much fun you have with other people because there is a good chance you will see these same people a lot if you are making the daily commute.  I am already starting to see this trend after only 2 weeks.

Don’t Have to Drive

It’s nice knowing that I don’t have to fight rush hour traffic each day.  Also, because of the bus lanes in Munster, the time it takes to drive from Borken to Munster is the same.  

The nice part about riding the bus is that if you want to close your eyes and rest, you can do so. 


Motion Sickness

This is a really tough one for me.  I get motion sickness very easily.  Can you build up a motion sickness tolerance over time?  I hope this is possible, because right now I get off the bus very motion sick.  I don’t want to take and become dependent on any pills/drugs to get over it, I just want to condition my body to not get motion sick so I can work on the bus.

Bound to the Bus Schedule

The SprinterBus only leaves Borken every 27 minutes past the hour and only leaves Munster 34 minutes past the hour.  If I get caught in the office past 7:34 pm, then I would have to take 2 hours of trains to get to Borken.   At least it’s a good excuse to get out of any really late meetings.

This set schedule is slightly inconvenient, but it does make you get out of bed and out the door more promptly in the morning.

Can’t Sing in the Car

I really value some good Bryan time in the car on my long commute.  Part of that time is belting out of good songs at an extremely high decibel level.   This is probably not a good idea on the eerily quiet bus.  For some reason, Germans are really quiet (and considerate) travelers.  This would never happen in America.  In fact, a couple of kids were yelled at yesterday by the bus driver over the loud speaker for talking too loud.  Even I could understand his finishing remark, ‘this isn’t a School Bus, kids.’ 

I really like singing praise and worship songs in the car by myself.  Usually this is accompanied by tears and crying.  I can’t help it.  That’s just the way I am.  Try singing Hillsong’s ‘Tear Down the Walls’ and ‘Arms Open Wide’ back to back without crying.  I can’t do it.

Other People Freaking Me Out

This is a reversal of the previously mentioned ‘pro’ bullet point of being able to mess with other people.  Other people can also mess with me.  Nothing makes me feel more uncomfortable than closing my eyes for a few minutes and opening them to someone staring right at me. 

I should also mention in this section the potential for someone to have body odor to sit next to me.  It hasn’t happened yet, but I am not looking forward to that inevitable day.  

Overall, taking the bus is going to become mostly positive once I get past the constant motion sickness.  In the meantime, I will take the advice of my good friend Amy and, “Just suck it up and ride.”

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