In the very strict chronological sense, this piece ought to precede the previous one, “The Experience of a Corper” After all, there won’t be a corper safe his undergraduate days. Stuffs like these are best done with the appropriate triggers in place; my friends (a few bald headed and some well haired ones too *apologies*), lecturers, lifestyle and a ton of other events. After a little tête-à-tête with a friend, the thought found me.
It is a total truth that a journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step. This time around, the steps are replaced with years. I recall my arrival to the town (Ogbomosho) bearing my now alma mater, six years and some months ago. You need to see the look on the young boy’s face; peeping through the car’s window as if I’m at the scene of the 8th world wonder. After a few minutes drive, we got into the school area and the real feeling kicked in. My heart beat pattern changed from rhythm and blues to rock within seconds, many thanks to agitation. I began to question myself, “Am I seriously going to cope in this environment?” Ordinarily I shouldn’t be so nervous, but a number of factors made it a must. Trust me, I’ll tell you.
I finished secondary school a year earlier, happy and hoping life will continue to be bed of roses. Well, it was indeed one, until some tiny species of itchy flowers crept in. I was unable to get admission into the university that year so I had to try again (was so down because some of my mates did). You’ll pity me if I give you the full details; I lost my chances as a result of some juvenile negligences and mistakes. The second attempt was much more complicated. Imagine living in an environment where the less qualified candidates get admission and the better ones, none. I had no other option than to go join the pre-degree programme which started many weeks prior to my decision. In fact, they’ve done the test and already preparing for exams before I came. Long story abridged, I joined, registered and paid, hoping I’ll do the make-up test later on (although I know I’m in for serious business), but I was surprised when I got the real admission five days later. As we all know, there’s hardly any refundable fee in the university, especially in the area of admission. I’ve just wasted my own time, energy and my father’s money!
My undergraduate days wasn’t just about that alone. I’ll focus more on a few interesting ones; the people I met (met lots of wonderful ones as a matter of fact), the rigours of studying and hard times—yes, strenuous but interesting—and several others I can’t quite categorize. I’ll delve into a few and see if you experienced something similar.
First time in any place or setting is always somehow for some people, especially timid people like I used to be. I remember sitting down in one corner throughout my first week in the university, acting as though I was not one of the students. My first year in school wasn’t really fun since I didn’t mix or get myself involved besides going for lectures and returning back to my hostel as soon as I’m done. I discovered I missed lot of things later on. I made lots of friends over the years though, most of them interesting people. There was a time in my final year when I actually looked back to this period (fresher/jambite days as we all call it) and the clear distinction led me to the conclusion; I’m not who I used to be. Who or what to be blamed? I have no clear-cut answer. Just another proof that change is inevitable.
Teaching is often called the noble profession and I believe lecturing—a close equivalent yet with differences—deserves to at least feature as well in the good name. In the course of my journey as an undergraduate I passed through lots of lecturers. Some were particularly excellent teachers who did their best to make sure we understand what’s been taught, not minding the stress and hard gesticulation it would cost (much bravo to *Prof*). You really need to see him go down low…and up (literally), just to make the impression and get his points made. Those are the kind I ought to tag THE GOOD. Of course, there are quite a few who don’t really understand what they teach but will always demand more from you. They teach you in English and expect you to answer them in French…with serious accent (figuratively)! I’m sorry I won’t write names but you sure know the likes, you find them almost everywhere. Undoubtedly, they are THE BAD. The last category are those who are exceptionally too active, they won’t let the ladies rest! Our future wives for crying out loud! May God punish devils (say amen please). Some woo ladies as a young guy would, others involve your course/grades so you’ll have to agree or fail (remember you didn’t hear this from me). Those are most definitely THE UGLY. Truth be told, the ladies are to be blamed sometimes, but what of the other times? The other times nko? #Lips sealed
The issue of securing seat and the melodrama attached with it is one thing I can’t possibly forget. In fact, about half of the whole class acknowledged it’s one thing they’ll miss about the class. Perhaps you don’t know what I mean exactly, it is the paramount thing back then, especially in the final year. You get to school as early as 6:30am just to get a seat, yet you’ll still discover the spaces are already taken…by books. Yes books! Books stand in the place of potential occupants who are actually absent at the moment…many thanks to the concerned friends. If you decide to pretend you don’t know what’s going on and try sitting on the taken space, the popular words come out; Someone is there. I don’t know who to strictly blame as a matter of fact, though I’m more inclined to point fingers at the supposed providers of the required facilities. After all, there won’t be need to rush out of the comfort of our beds especially at that time sleeping actually feels so good (I bet you can testify to that), just for the sake of getting a seat if there are enough seats.
I know I never really lived much of what I’ll call the Mosho-rican dream (after the town, Ogbomosho), but I did have my own fair share. If you want to live reasonably large in that town you’re good to go, so long you have what it takes—money. In the same vein, if you choose to lay low comfortably, you’re also in the right place. I remember the way we spend back then just when the periodic allowance comes in, a week like that is what we call the week of pride (Òsè ìgbéraga in yoruba language) because we make sure we savour the moment and wait for the inevitable cassava flakes (garri) and konkorsion—that thing in our pots we call food—thereafter. A combination of many things and rice; an undebbuged version of the software “Jollof rice.” Undergraduate days really taught me how to konkorct practically anything. I mean anything! Just name it. Over time, I got the lesson and learnt to spend judiciously. Who said hunger is not a wonderful teacher?
One of the tiring things about my undergraduate days was the more than once in a while strikes. Today it’s ASUU, tomorrow NASUU; they all seem to have one complain or the other every now and then. I needn’t say all these affects more directly than indirectly. What do you think hundred working days strike (I’ve experienced one almost as long as that before) adds to a student’s knowledge or intelligence (considering there are no lessons/classes as we had it back in secondary schools)? Well my dad’s car kept my company and really suffered during those times, I think you understand (*whispering*…I simply take it out when he’s away). I strongly hope he (my dad) won’t read this piece any time soon. Except you attended a private university, it is almost impossible to complete a five year course in exactly five years (you wan’ thief am?).
I remember the days of night classes and repeated sessions in the library in the endeavour to make straight ‘A’s (or something very close at least) and accomplish my aims in the university. I’m actually not an avid supporter of night classes (I slept throughout on my first attempt), but I really enjoyed the few times I went. The attendance during the exam periods would make you think there is a lecture scheduled for the night, to be attended by the serious and the unserious alike. Ordinarily, night class is supposed to allow one read very well, far away from the temptations of the comfy of one’s bed and to motivate when you see others reading, but it also serves other purposes. First, it offers some, a bed away from their own bed. They get to read a few lines and, well… Au revoir! Till morning! (I’ve actually witnessed a snorer). Second, it’s a great way to show the I’m-serious facade even if the person is totally otherwise. Third, it proffers an avenue for gisting and ronzing; I mean chasing after ladies. After all, “man must not live by bread (books) alone….” The list continues.
Life as an undergraduate was actually one of the good and the bad happening concurrently. Mere thought of the happy moments makes me smile, and sometimes laugh out loud uncontrollably (not in public though). The talks and gists, packagings, scandals, parties, crazy politics, impromptu quizzes (plus the ‘copy and paste’ that accompanies it), final year events (rag day, native day, back to school, sign out, dinner…), relationships (coughs), bla-bla-bla. Others that I don’t like include the legendary awaiting results (ARs), the stress and uncomfortable lectures, the long queues for anything and everything… and saddest of all, the feeling when a fellow pays the supreme sacrifice. Sincere commiseration to all of us who lost someone, we are indeed, pencils in the hand of the creator. It’s been by His grace we are where we are today, not by anyone’s doing.
Now it’s all gone. I’ve changed status and now a graduate (not borne out of pride). Although the memories will always linger, it’s all in the past now. It’s time for other things entirely; fresh challenges, opportunities, endeavours, aspirations and many more. It’s time to correct the mistakes of the past and improve on the good stuffs. Time to be a better version of oneself because better days lie ahead.
A toast to a wonderful future fellas….
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Adewoyin Joseph || @Jossef69