Public Transportation Is The Best Way To Travel In Cities

Public Transportation Is The Best Way To Travel In Cities

The benefits and disadvantages of riding public transportation.

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Before college, I had never used public transportation. At least not in the United States.

So, when I moved out-of-state for college and didn't have a car or anyone to drive me around, I had to learn really quickly. And I did.

I was lucky enough to live on campus my first year and have all of my classes within walking distance from the residential hall I lived in. This meant that the only time I used public transportation was to go to a couple of sporting events on the main Tempe campus, which was only a couple stops away from the light rail next to my campus.

Now, as a sophomore, I live a 10-minute drive off campus and am NOT willing to pay for the expensive parking passes on my campus.

And as the saying goes, "You gotta do, what you gotta do."

For the past six months, I have been taking the bus almost every day to and from work, to and from school, to and from my internships, etc and it has been HARD.

I am constantly running into obstacles or problems with the bus, whether it's because it is really late or really early, whether there are no seats and I'm extremely tired or there is just too much traffic.

But something I have learned to enjoy about the bus rides I take is that it's a nice gap of time in which I can catch up with some reading, listening to my podcasts and writing articles on my phone.

It's also pretty easy to enjoy these bus rides when they include cute little puppies that are sitting patiently with their owners.

However, I think my favorite part has to be just observing people.

Everyone had their own lives and has their own things going on, whether it's personally, professionally, mentally, emotionally, etc. Everyone has their own story and it just amazing to me that no matter how different or similar everyone is, all of our paths happen to cross on a daily basis.

I think the biggest takeaway I have learned from public transportation is that it's not as bad as everyone makes it out to be. Yes, it does suck because of longer commutes. Yes, it does run on its own time instead of mine. But it also saves me money and I get to do this all while doing my part to minimize my carbon footprint. It's cheesy but true.

You can really make an impact from taking public transportation to and from school alone. Imagine what you can do if you use it as your constant form of transportation?

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I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.
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After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing. My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from Shameless.

Shameless is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out-of-place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside, Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum -- it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone -- however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by Shameless.

Cover Image Credit: itsfilmedthere.com

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