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Davis, California

Friday, April 19, 2024

A commuter’s guide to UC Davis

Even if you’re not a Davis resident, you can still enjoy the full experience this fun-loving cowtown has to offer


By JENA TUFAIL — jjtufail@ucdavis.edu


The beginning of the academic year is full of excitement and stress for everyone, first-year, transfer students and seasoned upperclassmen alike. And that stress is often compounded for those who commute to campus. 

Figuring out classes and becoming acclimatized to university life, not to mention the transition from other colleges or high schools is difficult for anyone, even if they’re not driving long distances to take part in university life. And although every commuter’s experience is different, as someone who drives three hours roundtrip each day to attend UC Davis, I feel like I missed out on many on-campus opportunities.

While individuals who live on campus have roommates and are surrounded by UC Davis students all day, many of us do not have the same opportunity. We have to work a little harder to find our niche on campus. Since I have now gained some experience, here are a few of my tips for commuter students at UC Davis.

The biggest obstacle for me has been parking. On my first day at Davis, I parked almost a mile away from my class and was nearly fifteen minutes late — despite arriving on campus over an hour and a half before my class began. The parking lots, full of “A” and “C” signs and restrictions, were a mystery to me. The lots were also so packed that it was difficult to find an area where there were empty places to park. Luckily, I realized a few weeks later that there were parking garages around campus, which can be found in this parking guide. Paying for parking directly through the “Park Mobile” app also saved me a lot of time and energy.  

Another challenge was finding and remembering where my classes were, but the UC Davis Campus Map helped me to find my way around. Using this tool, I was able to search for my classes, see the distance between them and visualize the buildings I was trying to find.

Logistics aside, it can also be difficult to find a community on campus as a commuter. Being on campus only two to three times a week — and having eight- to 12-hour days of classes and labs — I never had time to join clubs. However, by winter and spring quarters, I was able to find remote options and groups that did not require my presence on campus every week.

If you do some digging, there are many opportunities available. I was able to work with Fossil Free UC Davis last winter, and through this, I met some amazing professors and students. In the spring, I was able to be a part of the campus’s “Leadership Job Program” which allowed me to shadow an individual from the Campus council.

There are myriad opportunities available that can help you discover exactly what you are passionate about. Even if you are a commuter, this doesn’t mean you can’t reap the full benefits of the college experience.


Written by: Jena Tufail — jjtufail@ucdavis.edu 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.