Allow me to reminisce a little, after all, it has been about two weeks since I finished campus. I realize I did not have a proper goodbye, but here is what I gathered from four years of undergraduate:
The A to Z of surviving in Kenyan campuses: A College Manual
Avoid the last minute rush. The I-work-best-under pressure is a myth. When it comes to studying, if you leave all studying to the night before the exam, you’re likely to fail. Okay, you may not get an E (which means you have to re-do the paper), but a C or D are likely grades.
Be yourself. Be true to your friends, because the friends you make in campus are the ones you will keep for life. If you can’t reveal your true self to your fellow comrades who do not judge, accept who for who you are and will hold a harambee to bail you out if you get into any sort of trouble, then I don’t know who else you can trust.
Cops. Cops and university students are not friends. Always maintain a 50m (or more) radius around a cop. Ask any student who has been in a strike. Or anyone coming back to campus at night and they encounter cops who ask for ID, and that is the one time you didn’t carry it. You could be arrested for loitering, drunk and disorderly etc.
Drinking. If you have no desire to be a drinker, then do not drink. If you decide to drink, there are some rules you should adhere to: do not experiment with drinks if you’re not indoors with your friends, so if you pass out you’re in safe hands. Find your drink of choice and stick with it. Do not ignore your studies. Do not ignore your friends. Do not drink all your rent/food/clothes money. I’ve ever bought supper for someone who didn’t have a cent on him yet he’d been out drinking the previous night. Do not offer to buy chicks/guys drinks just to impress if you can’t afford it. Do not go out if you can’t afford it. Do not become a regular at the local ‘wines n spirits’. Drinking has so many rules, I’ll just have to let you figure out the rest.
Exams. They are the one thing that you’ll be judged by most of the time. Do not copy in exams. Who am I kidding? Some students survive on Mwakenyas (those tiny pieces of paper on which all notes are compressed into.) But seriously, most of undergraduate is more of recall than reasoning. Lecturers do not invent questions, every question they’ll ask has been asked before. Just do your revision well. I remember in first year, no one wanted to copy or to be copied from. By fourth year, the situation had changed a lot. Either way, I insist, do not copy. If you get caught, it could end up badly. Like you being forced to take some years out, and then graduating without honours.
Friends. They are the best thing that could ever happen to anyone on campus. If you find true ones, keep them. The ones you can buy drinks from when you’re loaded, and still borrow from when you’re broke. If you can’t borrow money from your friends, then they are not true friends.
Hustle. I’m not saying go into the streets and start walking around looking all desperate. If you want to, start a business. Write on the side. Do your poetry. Sing your heart out. Draw portraits. Make cards for sale. Register your own company and start making websites/projects. It’s a way of establishing yourself and making that extra cash. It will lift your self-esteem. If an opportunity comes along, take it.
Independence. Be your own person. Whatever you do, ask yourself why. And the answer should not be ‘because my friends are doing it.’
Joke. Take time to smile at your blunders/failures. Life can be brutally short.
Knowledge. For what’s it’s worth, be good in at least one area of your field of study. Theoretically and practically, so even if your grades are not so good, you have something to show for your time in campus.
Luxuries. I know a student once who had all electronics possible but he didn’t even have bed sheets. All am saying is, know your priorities.
Money. Spend wisely, do not lend to those who can’t pay back, do not borrow unless it’s absolutely necessary and you know you can pay back. Friendships have begun and ended because of money.
Neighbours. Be good to them, you’ll live next to them for a while and they are the ones who’ll raise an alarm if your crib is on fire/being robbed.
Over. When campus is over, it’s over. Do not linger around. As much as I miss campus already, I would not go back just to hang around. I know some people I used to see around campus who had already graduated, and they walked around doing nothing. They were not doing further studying or teaching or anything.
Play. Go out and get involved in campus games and sports. Go out in the evening and have fun. Dance the night away. At the beginning of the semester when you have all the free time, watch movies, series, play computer games. Go out all week if you can. There is always time to study in the middle of the semester and towards the end.
uniQue. Be unique in at least one thing, style, fashion, neatness, etc
Relationships. If you’re (un)lucky enough to get a stable girl/boyfriend who lasts more than two years, I’ll be happy to attend your wedding 2 or 3 years after graduation. If you’re single, have as much fun as possible. That’s my advice: if you’re in a relationship, stay in it. Do not cheat. If you’re not, be free to mingle. The possibilities are endless.
Sex. Be safe. Get tested as often as possible. If you have not started having sex, then don’t be in a hurry to start. Because once you start, there is no stopping. Use condoms all the time, because pills will not protect you from STIs/HIV. Being faithful to one partner should not be relied on, this is campus. Multiple partners are the norm though of course you may think yours is exclusive. If it is, good for you. Either way, just pass by the pharmacist and pick some CDs.
Tobacco. Smoking of tobacco is harmful to your health. Okay, sometimes smokers look cool, but once you get hooked, it’s hard to quit. It’s easier to quit drinking than to quit smoking, so if you haven’t started smoking yet, do not start. If you’re already smoking, and you wanna quit, devise some sort of plan that will see you reduce your smoking by the time you’re done with campus. That will be the icing on the cake of your graduation.
Utter selflessness. That’s the only way to feel alive. Share with the less fortunate. Donate your time (and money) to charity. Join Rotaract Club, Red Cross, Environmental club or any other society where you can give back to society.
Vegetation. And the environment in general. Thou shall care for your environment, do not litter unnecessarily and if you’re passionate enough, join the environmental club and plant some trees.
Weed. So you’ve arrived in campus and want to experiment with some marijuana. Be my guest. But please, do not become a regular user. Once in a while, like end-of-semester bashes, you may smoke some. Do not let it become a daily thing. Weed kills brain cells, which do not regenerate. Plus it’s illegal.
X for X-rated stuff (porn). I’d advise you not to watch it, lest you get addicted and it gets in the way of your social life.
You. You’re your own master. You’re in charge of your ambition, desires, goals, limitations. Of course, with guidance from your creator.
Zeal. The Bible says in Ecc 9:10, “Whatsoever your hands find to do, do it with all your might. For there is no knowledge, no wisdom, no action, no thought, in the world of the dead where you are headed.”