In the months leading up to my first year in Uni, I prepared to have the time of my life. I was going to attend tons of parties and stay out past my curfew because I could. I’d also balance being a wild party girl with getting straights As and graduating with a first class in Law. In reality, I spent 80% of my time in Uni sleeping or eating. And I think it goes without saying that I didn’t get that first class.
Its been a couple of years since I left Uni and a whole other generation currently make up the larger percentage of University students than mine did. This week I talked to a nineteen-year-old in her third year whose struggles still sound a whole lot like mine.
Was getting into Uni hard?
Not really. I wrote JAMB and post jamb but I didn’t make the cutoff for law. Luckily I wrote the diploma exam and passed that. Most of us who did diploma ended up crossing over.
What course are you studying?
Law, I’m in my third year in UNILAG.
Did you pick it out yourself?
I don’t even know, I think I was brainwashed. My dad is a lawyer so since I was young I’ve been chanting ‘I want to be a lawyer, I want to be a lawyer’. I don’t think my dad will have opposed me reading anything else but I think he should have sat me down and talked about my options. Let me know that it wasn’t enough to want to a lawyer just because he was a lawyer. There was a Guidance and Counselling department in my secondary school that was supposed to help with that sort of thing but they were completely useless. As far as they were concerned if you were in Art class you should read Law. Science class? Medicine and that’s it.
Biggest struggle so far?
My biggest struggle is actually just waking up in the morning and going for class. Ok, I don’t know if it’s my biggest struggle but it’s the first one that popped in my head when you asked this. I’m only doing 5 courses this semester so it’s not like I even have a whole lot of classes to go for. The problem is my hostel is outside school. I have to walk to the gate, join the queue for cab, get to the main campus and walk again to my faculty. It’s a little stressful. I’ve been trying to get my parents to give me a car, but they said I’m spoiled. If they could see my daily struggle they’ll realise it’s a necessity.
No sexual harassment?
It’s only God that has been saving me because 1 in every 5 girls I know has been through some shit. My friend in English had to bring her mum to beg her lecturer to stop harassing her. And she couldn’t even do it in a ‘stop harassing me’ way. Her mum had to tell the lecturer to please see her daughter as his own daughter and treat her like his own daughter before he stopped sending disgusting text messages to her. She’s even lucky he stopped because some won’t have.
I have friends who never go to Ransome Kuti and Ozolua at night because they think they’ll get raped. I have friends there so I know it’s not that bad but I can’t say their fears are baseless. Anytime I want to see any of my friends who stay in High-rise BQs and I see a lot of boys at the entrance I just turn back because the last time I tried to walk between them someone touched my breast.
What still excites you about Uni?
Getting good grades. This makes me sound like an efiko but I’m actually not. But seeing just As and Bs when your result comes out our passing a course everyone else failed always gives me the best rush.
Want to talk about your grades?
My grades are pretty decent. I’m on a 2:1 and the worst grades I’ve ever gotten are 1D and 1E and the E was in a stupid GST course that Law students honestly have no business taking.
First thing that didn’t meet up to your expectations?
The party scene here. I was sold bare lies. I heard there were all these cliques and clubs that used to organise like really wild raves. Play is the only one I can remember now. My older brother came to UNILAG too and he was in Play and I can remember when they were organising G.O.A.T 2. I can never forget the name of the party because all the plans for it sounded so mad. Now it’s to be doing class excursion to the beach. Dead rocks.
Most jarring experience
Getting backstabbed because of man by someone who was actually a pretty good friend. It had never happened to me before then. We went to secondary school together, got admission here together and stayed in the same room for Diploma.
There was this guy we both knew he was our senior in secondary school. I think he was in SS3 when we were in SS1. We ran into him in Engineering one day and started hanging out with him occasionally but he and I got closer and he honestly just didn’t like her attitude in general. He was staying in a BQ and I used to go and see him a lot.
Next thing I heard was that she was going around telling everyone I was opening my leg for anyone who stayed in BQ because I thought they had money. Stuff was going down with the guy but I really liked him and it was just him I was with, so that was different. When I heard what she said I just stopped talking to her even though we were in the same room. She first denied it then tried to apologise when I confronted her but I wasn’t having it.
One constant in your life right now?
I’m always broke. The day my pocket money enters I’m broke. I’m on the same allowance my sister was when she was in Uni like 4 years ago. Times have changed, the economy has changed it’s ridiculous that I’m still collecting that.
How much is it?
35k from my dad. On some months my mum will add 5 or 10k. So let’s say 40 to 45k
What does it cover?
As far as my dad is concerned everything in this life except books and handouts. From making my hair to food to data. God bless my mum I still run to her to help me cover bills. Like if I want to buy new bundles or clothes.
How often do you collect money for handouts?
Every month without fail. If I could do it every week I would but I know that my dad will catch me. I usually collect like 5 to 7k. Then every other month, this super important new book we absolutely need to buy will cost another 10 to 15k because you know it’s a law book. Lol, the day my father should ask to see all the books I’ve been buying with his money I’ll just start planning my funeral.
Ever buy them?
Only when the lecturer puts a gun to our head which hardly ever happens in my faculty. As far as I’m concerned it’s part of my pocket money.
What are you most worried about?
My mental health and protecting it. Not just mine but those of my friends. I know a lot of people in really really dark places and no one takes us seriously. It’s always this same thing, you are in uni what do you have to depressed or worried about. But this shit is hard. Imagine telling someone about to get kicked out of MedLag or someone on a zero point something gap what do you have to be worried about. After the story they’ve been selling to us since we were born is that if you don’t go to school and finish with a first class you can’t succeed in life. I’m in a good place but I know that just one carry over could change that.
Think you are going to practice?
Nah. I heard there’s no money in Law for us. People in my father’s generation are colonizing the practice and leaving crumbs for people in my own generation to make. Story of Nigeria, right?
If I could start over I’ll just read a four-year course like MasComm or English. Graduate in 4 years and focus on my shit. Instead, I’m stuck doing this for 6 years so that people can call me the law and call my mother ‘mama the law’.
And what’s your shit?
I’m still figuring it out. There are so many things I’m interested in but so little time to really explore because of my course work. I like to draw and I’m really good at it, I also find graphic design interesting.
I don’t want to practice but I think it’ll be stupid to finish with anything less than a 2:1 so I have to focus on school. If I’m going to have a degree to fall back on it can be a pass or a third class or even a 2:2 sef.
In case you’ve somehow missed them, we’ve been curating stories from Nigerian students around the world for a minute now. You can binge on them here.