Most people think of their freshman year of college as the time of their lives to start gaining new experiences—moving out from under their parent’s roof, being independent and making new friends.

Well, as a commuter who still lives at home with her family, I can say that while I fully enjoy my mama’s home-cooked meals, I do feel as if I am missing out on part of campus life.

It can be difficult to connect with people and make new friends since I am on campus mostly during class time and leave in the afternoon to go home where I eat, study and sleep.

My mother drops me off on campus at 6:00 a.m. and I sit in the commuter lounge studying or catching up with Facebook before the sun (and the students) have even woken. As you can imagine, this makes it difficult to find people to connect to when everyone else is in dreamland.

Being a commuter student also makes it difficult to find time for groups to meet to work on group projects. I go to bed at 10 p.m. and wake up at 5:30 or 6:00 to get ready to go to school since my mother drops me off on campus before heading to work.

I am extremely jealous of students who get to go to bed at midnight or one in the morning and wake up at 7:30 to get ready for an 8:00 class. Most of college life occurs in the evening and I don’t have the luxury of being a night owl as a commuter, although I wish I could.

Some people may consider me Wonder Woman for being able to get up at 5:30 in the morning, but trust me, I am no early bird. I use my own homemade creamer to sweeten the coffee that I drink on the car ride to campus. Without it, I would be just as sleepyheaded as the students who stayed up till four in the morning.

I actually feel more like a college student during the weekends because I have different hours. Monday through Friday, I am rolling out of bed any time between 5:30 and 7:00, but on Friday and Saturday nights, I celebrate the New Year. Staying up till 1 and waking up at 9-10 a.m. feels more like what I would expect living on campus to be like.

I am thankful that GC offers so many great opportunities such as bowling, movies and Kick-Off to get students involved in activities together on the weekends, which is when I have more free time.

I really enjoyed the Eco Evo trip to Merry Lea that the biology department offered several weeks ago. Camping with classmates, lighting swamp gas on fire, having a giant Roman candle and walking through prairies were great ways to make friends and to get to know the biology staff better.

I also have to give a shout-out to some awesome upperclassmen who have been really welcoming to me. I have also realized that I make friends with people easier when they are in several of my classes.

In conclusion, I just want to say that I do have many friends already who I am very thankful for. And if you see someone on campus who seems strange/new, it’s probably because they are a commuter student and you haven’t had a class together. But feel free to say hello and introduce yourself!