During the last decade there has been a considerable increase in the average time students spend on travelling. Many colleges operate a fleet of buses to ply the students and the faculty to and from the college campuses.
It is my observation that the commuters here doze away most of this time and when they wake up they are dull and lethargic. Some kill the time on their iPods with ear jarring music. There are others who find solace in their mobiles thumbing text messages, playing games or are in a social network. There is an occasional someone who fiddles with the laptop. I have not seen anyone reading anything other than during exam days when they are catching up with their syllabus at the last minute.
Many a time, students spend close to one and half to two hours in the college buses every day. This comes close to 10 percent of an effective day. It may not sound serious enough. But this happens every day and a back of the envelop calculation will show that in a year of commuting, approximating 200 working days, this would add up to a non negligible 400 hours. On a weekly basis, the time equivalent of a full day’s work is spent in the buses. Can we do away with this? Of course not! But we should think of alternatives to make better use of the time.
I am aware of the constraints here. One should not be reading in a moving bus in our roads for it would be an unwarranted strain on the eyes. An activity that students can look up to spend the travel time constructively is get engaged with Sudoku or Crosswords. Sudoku – the numbers game and puzzle that is solved using reasoning and logic improves the player’s logical and critical thinking capability. It would help them solve other logical problems easily. Many a time it helps improve one’s patience as well. Crossword or word puzzle can be used with similar benefits on ones language and vocabulary. The improvements made in logical and verbal ability will prove beneficial, be it for placements or for higher studies.
Sudoku and Crosswords are available in a wide range of difficulty levels. Here it is important that one starts at a lower difficulty level and move up the ladder. These can be taken up at an individual level or as a group activity among a group of friends. If there are some enterprising students or faculty members amongst the commuters, travel time can be converted into an enjoyable experience with an element of competitive spirit built into the entire Sudoku or crossword activity. These mental stimuli would help one go fresh to the class.
Scrabble, the word game for two to four players or Chess are other possibilities that comes to my mind. Magnetic versions of these games catering to travellers are available. You should think of other creative options as well if you are one of these daily commuters. An occasional nap is always welcome. But keep in mind you are spending anywhere close to two full months of work hours on your commute every year. You better make some use of that time.