How to survive  a long commute

How to survive a long commute

train schynige platte

Now that I've been flawlessly executing a two-hour commute by train twice a day for just over four months, I have officially deemed myself an expert and have taken it upon myself to help you survive, should you ever live so far away from your place of work that you need to travel halfway across a small country.  

How to survive a two-hour commute:

1 READ - So I have two trains in the morning, and two trains at night. Train #1 - from Biel to Olten - is dedicated to reading the daily Swiss newspaper, "20 Minuten". This actually doubles as language learning because I can say for certain that my German has improved just because I've forced myself to read nearly every article. I've also made some great progress on my reading list. For years I've been trying to read more and somehow it never really happened, but there's nothing like being contained in a long moving vehicle that will make you actually take the time to do it.

2 LISTEN TO PODCASTS - Forgive me if I seem a little snooty - I can't help but feel a little more intelligent than the average commuter just because much of my time is spent becoming wiser by listening to NPR's TED Radio Hour podcast. Most of the books I've purchased in the past two months were authored by guests invited on Guy Raz's show. I feel like he made this podcast exclusively for me. And I thank him from the bottom of my heart for making me feel just a tad higher and mightier for an hour a day (nearly one commute!).

3 ZONE OUT - With just the right Spotify playlist - something like "Evening Commute" or "Weekend Beats" - I find that I can really let the workday slide away as I gaze out the window and make myself dizzy by trying to single out each individual bush and tree along the train tracks. But seriously folks, I've often said that I do my best thinking on the train. There's something about the constant movement that I find calming and so conducive to fluid thinking - thoughts just float on and on. It's quite relaxing and I'd say I zone out on the train about six to eight hours a week (remember: 20 hours of commuting per week).

4 PEOPLE WATCH - Oh boy! Sometimes this is the absolute best! I affectionately call strange train strangers "Weird Train People", which can be abbreviated to WTP. These are people who maybe roll giant blunts on the little tables and smell as if they bathed in cannabis tea. Perhaps its the man who wears ear plugs, a scarf and eye-mask so that he can sleep comfortably up until he is awoken by an obnoxiously loud pre-set alarm. I also feel a little bad for but mostly amused by people who try to convince the conductors (ticket checkers) that they left their ticket in the machine or that it fell out of their pocket. Seriously, no one's buying that story (so guilty of using that excuse).

*Pro tip: Sometimes I like to be a WTP to pass the time. I tend to jerk dramatically when I start to fall asleep and I've come pretty close to testing my vis-a-vis neighbor's knee reflexes when my foot suddenly kicks up as I start to doze off. I'm also known for my impeccable "seat-dancing" skills which usually tend to come out on Friday night commutes when I listen to my "Epic Party" playlist.

5 CODE - I signed up for this free coding website ( where I can learn how to code because why the hell not. I'm actually so busy with 1-4 that I haven't had time to start...but I will at some point and it will be an excellent use of time.

6 LEARN A LANGUAGE - DuoLingo is one of my fave apps. I used a few train rides to learn Portuguese, the only downside is that I couldn't ever practice saying the words out loud. I did mouth them though, which probably made me a WTP.

7 RIDE LUXURIOUSLY - the restaurant cart where they serve you (overly priced) beverages and snacks! The tables? Roomy. The waiters? Often in a state of annoyance. The other passengers? Happy to chat. I was once invited to sit with a group of older men and avoided sending off work emails by humoring them as they flirted with me, making sure they still had game in their 60s/70s. I like these quick, random encounters - they're short, sweet, shamelessly "superficial" as my Swiss friends would say (read: typically American). Just the way I like 'em.

Here and there in Hamburg (Germany)

Here and there in Hamburg (Germany)

Buda-best! (Hungary)

Buda-best! (Hungary)