Today, we have writing for us the (insert multiple superlatives here) Osemhen Elohor Akhibi. She’s one of my favorite writers and her writing has always touched heart and mind (she’s also one person I secretly admire, but shhhhh. Don’t tell her).
In typical Osemhen fashion, she doesn’t beat around the bush, and here, she talks of her life in the University.
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Five Things University Taught Me
1. How to learn. I have a whole blog post on how I managed to convince people I was (am?) smart, even though I don’t think I’m smarter than the average Joe. I learnt how my mind worked in university. I apply this skill at work, taking the time to sit down and plough through a stack of technical material. I work for a company with a policy of “on-the-job-learning” and being able to digest technical documents on the go is a priceless skill. In addition, all those hours spent writing lab reports in university prepared me for writing technical reports, and also taught me that researching a topic to write about it is a quick way to become an expert at it.
2. How to stay open. It’s funny, people think university life is academic, and has little to do with the practicalities of life. I think this is true to an extent, but not necessarily. As a student, I followed IEEE trends, read every novel that crossed my path, could recite the capital and currency of almost every country in the world. I was the queen of trivia. I was a sponge for every bit of information that crossed my path. These days, I have to struggle to pay attention to anything not work-related. It’s so bad that I have to schedule time in the day to read a novel, just to de-clutter my head. I fear I’m getting boring. My New Year resolution is to return to that place where I am voracious for information, no matter how irrelevant. It helped me stay balanced.
3. How to be prudent with money. I didn’t have a lot of money in school. And now that I earn, it’s hard to kick old habits. For instance, I never buy more food than I can finish. I don’t buy stuff I don’t need. Once in a while, I’ll indulge but most of the time, I save my money.
4. How to walk everywhere. I walk a lot. Even though I own a car now, I walk and use public transport about 60% of the time. I do it for exercise and I do it to stay grounded in reality. I do it to think. My thoughts are a lot clearer when I walk.
5. How to be self-confident. I went to the University of Lagos. Despite its flaws and the stereotypes, UNILAG is a good school because of the people who go there. My classmates and friends shaped me a great deal, and I like to think I was an influence on them as well. I entered university at 15; I was very impressionable and I’m glad I got good “impressions”. I learnt to be comfortable in my own skin, to be street-savvy, to bluff, to have good grades and still be able to enjoy a good party. I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world.
Four Things University Didn’t Teach Me
1. How To Use A Computer Effectively: I was in 4th year when I learned to use Microsoft Excel by myself. This is utterly unforgiveable. I wish I had been given assignments from 1st year that required me to use tools like Excel, Access and Powerpoint. I didn’t enter the job market at a disadvantage because I learned by myself quickly, but I could have easily been left behind.
2. How To Be Socially Conscious/Responsible: Volunteer work in university wasn’t emphasized, and I think for many people, it was a missed opportunity. I learned a lot from being a volunteer but I almost didn’t become one. Volunteering helps you expand your worldview beyond your tiny self-centred world, it makes you feel good giving back (or paying forward, as the case may be) and it looks damn good on your CV.
3. How To Have Rights (or opposing opinions): Let’s face it, many Nigerian universities are run like prisons. You do what you’re told; deviations attract dire consequences. There were lecturers who dictated to us how to wear our hair (my sister was banned from attending certain classes with her Afro out) on one hand, and then there were lecturers who demanded we approach questions from one angle only. A new school of thought, a new approach? God forbid. It’s something I struggle with till today, toeing the fine line between compliance to rules and thinking outside the box.
4. How to ensure a relationship doesn’t derail you. Nutshell: I wish I had stayed single all through university. My grades didn’t need the suffering. And the truth is: it was only after leaving school that I could fully appreciate what it meant to be in a relationship. Relationships requires attention and work that honestly, very few people can balance successfully with the attention and work proper to studying.
Whew! This was long overdue. Hope it’s worth it to someone out there.
Do you have anything to add? What did university teach (or fail to teach) you? You can write your experiences as comments below.
You can learn more about Osemhen by following her Twitter handle @OsemhenA or enjoy her writings on her blog at eurekanaija.wordpress.com. You can also check out the stories she wrote for Klorofyl digital magazine (for example, “A Memory of Warri” http://t.co/0FI7GzA925 ) by downloading the free magazine or reading on the blog at klorofyl.com
Next post comes up on Friday, 4th September, 2014 and we’ll be having @O_tega’s post then. You wouldn’t want to miss out on the awesome posts coming up, so just click the ‘Follow/Subscribe’ buttons on your screen.
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Keep being awesome!