It’s a chilly morning in the premier school of Business in The University. We are chatting over breakfast with Rayna. When I first met Ray, I did not imagine we would turn out to be best friends. We were the only two who remained calm as we waited to be attended to on the first day of campus. I looked at her and wondered if she would survive in a public University, much less as a module 1. Everything about her spoke volumes, from the way she walked to the way she talked and put across her points. This is our fourth year in the University, the final year in our undergraduate’s studies. In our usual chit- chats, I tease her to give me a wrap of the four years, and this is what this post is centered on.
“When I joined the University, I was elated. I knew for a fact that this was The University of Choice. I had worked extra hard to make it here, and well, the letter of admission gave me a sense pride and achievement. I must admit though, that my expectations were a little too high. I fancied a smooth sail through the years, I fancied A’s and only A’s in my transcripts. Coming from a system of one single exam covering four years of study to a new system of semesterly exams, I could see a transcript so bright it could almost blind a prospective employer. I fancied a system where we would be spoon fed to the very last detail; I anticipated water and electricity to be no challenge. Most importantly, I knew without the slightest doubt that I would faithfully attend all classes, and complete my assignments and term papers weeks before hand!”… She chuckles at this.
Four years down the line, I still dream of a time I will prepare for exams weeks before they start, and I doubt the dream is valid. It has been crazy. Last minute rush to complete assignments, jammed printers and long queues on the morning of submission, last minute discussions in the eve of exams, group works for term papers and research papers where ideally two people do all the work, (and the rest pay for printing and binding) and combined efforts to make it or make it. The slang is ‘Degree ni Harambee’…loosely translated as ‘A degree is combined efforts’. I now know the validity of Parkinson’s Law as articulated by Cyril Nortcort Parkinson. If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute to do it’, or ‘Work contracts to fit the time we give it’. Whichever dimension you look at it, it makes a lot of sense. More or less, the law endorses last minute work. I took time to read through it once when I was frustrated that regardless of endlessly resolving to complete tasks way before hand, I constantly failed. I must admit this law was made for people like me.
Mentally, I have matured. The University has a way of hardening us. You learn to make decisions without waiting for approval. Your rules all day, any day! To go to class or not, to copy an assignment wisely, or make the fair copy that you can lend a lazy friend or two, when to cook and when to buy, to rave or to attend the religious events so strategically set for Friday nights, to sail along with the tide or stick to your principles. Change is inevitable, and yes, the campus environment is a catalyst to change, negative to a larger extent than positive. The freedom is overwhelming. In one sentence, freedom without responsibility is chaos. I am free because I know I am totally morally responsible for everything I do regardless of the rules that surround me. I find them tolerable, I tolerate. I find them obnoxious, I defy them.”
I particularly do not have enough concentration span to read through long blogs, but no way am I leaving out the last bit, thoughts on the social aspect of the years.
Being a campus girl, she says, is one problem. Being a pretty campus girl is another problem altogether. It gets even harder when you are not financially independent. My old time favorite quotes are that ‘Nothing comes on a silver platter’ and that ‘The darkest hour in a man’s life is that hour spend planning how to get money without earning it’. It makes much more sense when campus girls are already stereotyped to be gold diggers, and easy to take advantage of, and not knowledgeable. They are simply said not to be women, they are just girls. Put in better words, campus girls are women in formation, before maturing into total women, the gap is an opportunity to some cream of hunting men. To a large extent, that is not the case, except for a few outliers who will specify their rules for you to eat into their time. Simplest case scenario is that relationships are meant to be a give and take scenario. I give you my time, and as a man, well your duty is to provide the dream kind of lifestyle. Fair enough to some, but unfair to others. We have learned the value of earning what you get. We have tried business ventures and come to the realization that our greatest asset is our ability to earn, and our greatest resource is time, and that the education offered is not solely to earn a great living, but living a great life. We have had our fair share of broke campus days and learned the math of financial planning and management. That is what the University has taught us.
On the flip side, it is only in campus where your peers seem to know about your life more than you do. Amongst all the grapevine on who is after love and who is after money, all the gossips and false attention (in an attempt to know what is going on in your in your seemingly perfect or imperfect life), amidst the broken relationships and ideal ones alike, the fake smiles and undeserving compliments, the speculations on why you get flowers and premium chocolates every so often, and with whom you might be going out with, to some going the extra mile of using creepy channels like sending up to ten requests to your significant other on social media to snoop and have a story to tell over the next black tea affair with the girls, (Such a pity!).. Through the competitions and struggle for crowns in beauty pageants and fashion shows in the school of business where losers insist that judges, shamelessly refered to as dummy judges, were biased (another snigger) …and in the misunderstandings that are bound to happen in ordinary course of business, we have made friends. Real friends. We have established networks and built circles. Everyone has made an impact in one way or another. The good people have given us happiness; the bad ones have given us experiences. The worst people have given us lifelong lessons while the best people in our lives have given us fond memories.
We met as strangers, grew as classmates and will leave as friends. To an amazing four years so far, cheers! And a toast to a spectacular finish!