Over the course of my Heller career, I have had three very different commuting experiences. The shortest was certainly the commute from my bed to my desk in the period when Brandeis conducted classes online due to Covid. While having the option of waking up with just enough time to make coffee and sign onto Zoom at 9 AM was certainly nice some of the time, I did miss the comradery of taking the commute rail from Porter Square with my MPP classmates.
As prospective students research places to live in the Boston area, some may decide to live closer to the city center, in places like Somerville, Cambridge, or Boston proper. I can highly recommend the Porter Square area, and the commuter rail commuting experience (although admittedly I am a public transportation and train enthusiast in general). The train is overall pretty reliable, and I found that I really got to know my fellow train commuters well over the first couple months of the program. It didn’t hurt that some of our neighbors in the program had cars, and would sometimes offer rides!
One of the best things about living in New England is getting to see the seasons change – most of all the fall foliage, which we’ve been enjoying for the past few weeks (although now the leaves are all falling to the ground). Taking the train provided a beautiful window onto these seasonal patterns. Now I have moved to a city west of the Brandeis campus, and drive to school on a narrow (though perennially traffic-clogged), road. It is a relatively peaceful and pleasant way to begin the day, and the foliage is even more striking further out from the city. While I do have to get up a bit earlier now that things are back in person, it is nice to begin the day catching up on the news or listening to a podcast.
I don’t think people generally feel sentimental about their commutes, and I’m as happy as the next person that office culture is shifting, at least a bit, towards working from home being a more common option. Still, I do think I will miss my Heller commute after I graduate. The routine, almost ritualistic practice of having a consistent commute provides time to reflect on the day’s events and process what I’ve learned in class. I am not sure what my next commute will involve, but I know I will miss arriving at Brandeis/Roberts station or pulling into the Theater Lot every morning.