My first year in university was so damn interesting. I don’t know what I can say to fully encompass all the different experiences adequately. People are so different. Oh goodness, people ARE different. This was the best thing for me, going to a university with so many students from so many diverse backgrounds. Being the silent person I am, I absorbed a lot of what was said from the environment around me. Just lurking, stalking in dark corners, finding out things about people they don’t know about themselves, the uninvited listener to all the conversations, the unwanted eye that silently watches all the embarrassing things that you did at that frat party on Saturday night (I am not that creepy but I hope you get the point), and also finding out things about myself that I hate, that I love, that I wished I had, that I wished to give to others. But more than that, the diversity I got to experience firsthand helped me move out of the place in my mind where I believed I was at the peak of my contribution to mankind, and helped me see that there was still far to go when I heard of all the things my contemporaries had done that I could do if I were not so lazy during that time after KCSE if anything, it is only the beginning. That is the greatest lesson my exposure to diversity taught me, you are nowhere near where you need to be, and your next creation should always be your best. But other than that, my first year was one of discovery, of so many things:
- I hate American toilets.
- I looove Jolly Ranchers and Starbursts. Best thing about America so far.
- Stupid questions are there forever if you are an international student. Sarcasm always works well in dealing with this. But try to gauge the sincerity of the asker because sometimes they just want to know more. However, for most, ignite the seemingly extinguished flame of thought with a simple ‘what do you think?’ and leave it at that.
- Your roommate doesn’t have to be your best friend.
- I thought I wanted to be a Vet, but now I am not so sure. L I am not so sure I even want to do science anymore when I see how tough the requirements are. It’s tough out here for science, and there are a lot of kids with so much prior exposure and experience as competition. You have to be willing to push it to your limits and beyond to make it. Kenya has a great education system, but we need to extend the boundaries of our current math and science syllabi if we hope to compete at an international level and in the long run, diversify our economy. We have the brains, we need the resources. But I think about it, and I think that I must go on with the science struggle, maybe do Genetics after years and years, because if not for myself, then I must at least try to inspire the students back home and show them that it can be done, regardless of your background.
- Always have good underwear, not because you are going to have sudden sexual encounters (you are not hot enough :p) but because that shit is going to fall out of your laundry bag and you are going to have to pick it up. At least this will help alleviate the shame…
- All those pictures people post looking all warm and happy bundled up outside in the snow building snowmen and all that? Not true. Snow is freaking cold. It is what would happen if hell was made of ice and not fire. Don’t dare touch that with your bare hands if you are not from Alaska or you will suffer from sore fingers and creaky bones for three days straight. I know.
- Do not believe any stereotypes you hear about anything. People are as diverse as the shapes your teenage acne could form across your face. Don’t assume anything. Don’t hate anyone, until you get to know that they do not like cats. Because people who don’t like cats were mice in their past lives and will come back as rats in the next.
- Drugs are bad. Some of them, all of them. You decide. Wisely.
- Money is fun to have, but just because you have it doesn’t mean you should spend it. And when you spend it, buy stuff you actually need. I have tons of ugly, awkwardly-shaped and just downright weird stuff really to attest to this fact.
- Be serious, but don’t be that guy that spends his life in the library surrounded by cans of Redbull and espresso shots. Take time to take your time.
- Talk to your professors. They love it, and they will love you for it. After all, you care about the same things and it is always nice to get an expert’s point of view on these matters.
- Sleeping without a mosquito net or any form of insect repellent leaves me feeling awkwardly exposed. K
- Try everything, new extracurriculars, new types of people, new movies, new clubs, new leisure activities, new books, new cities, new shops… EVERYTHING except weird food. [read here vegan protein supplement thingies like ‘chicken flavored __________’ fill in the blank with weird vegetable of choice. If you want chicken flavored something just go out and eat the real deal dammit. But peace love unity and respect to the vegans it’s a tough choice you’ve made there]
- Make good friends. I cannot stress this point here enough.
- Your parents, they may not say they love you often (African child problems) but when they say it they damn well mean it okay? Talk to them often if you don’t live with them.
Yeah, they are 16. I thought 15 was a weird number. Aaand, eat your vegetables. J
By Michelle Angwenyi, a Kenyan student at Yale University 😀