The world at 5am is a bleak at best. It is the time of pre-dawn, filled with pitiless darkness, lit only by metallic shards of light. My alarm sounds and pulls me from my notably brief and only period of repose. I take no pleasure from this task: I do not jump from the sheets and onto the pavement for a “refreshing” run, nor do I welcome the morning gleefully from a yoga mat whilst sipping green morning juice.
Instead, I awake to join the hoards of my fellow hollowed and sleep-deprived student commuters. Those patched-together legions that are forever in flux, forever just out of the reach of their destination, but always, and this is key, on time and there. Together we watch the sunrise through the retro-tinted windows of an old and seemingly equally tired train. I cannot speak for everyone of course, but I derive no pleasure from witnessing this otherworldly phenomenon. It is a blaring reminder that while I have been ripped from my place in bed there are some who still remain in its toasty-raptures.
“We have 12 hour days!” my friend Georgia reminds me as we crunch unappetisingly into our shares of dry cereal. The hassle of carrying milk, we discovered, is just far too difficult. I nod, I am painfully aware of this fact. Over the past weeks of travelling five hours each day, I have started to notice a trend.
Those who are noticeably missing from lecture halls, tutorial rooms and seminars are college students, living a tempting stone’s throw away. Those who claim waking up “anymore than 10 minutes before is stupid”. As I complete readings and study within the confines of a questionably green train seat, jammed against the window in an attempt to be out of reach of non-deodorant users, I cannot help but feel frustrated by their privilege of proximity.
What would it be like to study without the noise of someone shaving their beard with an electric – and believe me – loud razor aboard city rails innovative ‘quiet carriage’? Perhaps it is the privilege of living so close to university, which makes extra-curricular activities, or late nights seem more appetising than the middle–class nuisance of a university education.