Life as a first year university student can be very hard in this part of the world. Here is a unique experience of one of our African girls who made it into the university.
Hhhmmm! Wuna take chair, we get long story. You can read about boarding school life here.
2013 was that year I thought I had arrived. After all, I had 4 Advanced level and was eligible to apply for admission into a university.
How my journey to the university started?
We woke up that morning hearing unconfirmed rumors of the release of the GCE (General Certificate of Education) results, one of the requirements for entering the university. I felt my heart beat fast and sharply. Not because I knew I will fail but the thought of not making it big or not making it at all. But that was not the exact reason. I couldn’t tell what it was.
I listened to the journalists call from centre to percentages to names carefully. It was as if I shouldn’t chew the fish pie in my hand in order to get the names clearly. I paused for a while with half of it in my hand and the rest in my jaws. It got sour in my hand and I threw the rest to the fowls to enjoy. Ha Eduke! Examination tension.
I was restless the whole day. Each time I wanted to do something reasonable, I went off. The thought of if I don’t make it big kept coming to me. The tension heightened when I heard shouts of successful candidates from the neighborhood. Good for them, they knew theirs already. Unlike me who was still to determine her fate.
Villagers gathered at their compound to celebrate with them. This was at Ediki ooo, not Babubock. My dad had bought his new farm there so my siblings and I went to help him. We didn’t go to the farm that day except Papa P.
When evening came, we ate the dinner (fufu and black soup) I cooked; we ate and continued listening to the radio which had been on the whole day. Our ears were wide open as we lay in bed. We waited impatiently for the journalists to reach my centre.
As tired as Papa was, he didn’t sleep as usual. He was waiting to hear the name of his daughter called on national radio as a successful candidate. He had had several dreams revealing I passed in three subjects, so he wanted to confirm by hearing directly from the horse’s mouth.
Then I heard that female voice call Centre number 11066, hhhmm! I knew they were approaching my school. The heartbeat increased from 5 per second to 10 per second. The time I knew I had before she reached my centre was cut short.
Lo and Behold! Centre number 11067 was skipped and she came to mine.
“…Centre number 11068, Saint Francis College, Fiango Kumba…, sat for more than 2 subjects…” She called and called. Then I heard “…Passed in 4 subjects… (I can’t remember how many we were). “Eduke Nadesh Nguh..” and the list continued.
My family’s reaction to my success
This left the house in complete disarray. From what I can remember, in that small room, my dad stood on his feet, gave me a hug and held me tight for almost a minute, that had never happened.
My younger siblings couldn’t stop jumping and shouting. “No be now whey people no di still celebrate exam. But why eeeh?”
I tried so hard to concentrate on the radio in order to get the names of my other peers but the noise in the house couldn’t let me.
Woooooooww! I made it and I was so excited. We couldn’t sleep that night. From 11:30 PM to 6AM, my eyes were closed but my mind, heart and thoughts were awake. Because eehhh, I was thinking of the next step because my dad had never had a child in the university. Where do we go from here? Lots of things on my mind.
Before I could wake the next morning, our landlord and his family were already on the fourth crate of drink celebrating his daughter’s success in the Ordinary levels, which we later found out was false.
Neighbors and friends of my dad gathered in front of the house and my dad added some crates to the landlord’s. We drank, sang, danced, shouted for joy. 12pm, everyone had gone to their various farms.
After the Advanced Level what next?
Guess what! The next time my dad went to Kumba, he came back with a brand new Itel phone for me and that was my success gift. This was my first phone. I didn’t sleep at night anymore; one of our telecoms companies used to give its users free night SMS then. My younger brother was like “Nah, so if ya phone di ring now me too I get to run for cam give you eeehhh?” and I answered with a big yes!
I contacted my friends to congratulate them too. Of course, I had a phone book in which I wrote their numbers when I didn’t have a phone. They explained their plans to me. They had applied for admission into the university of Buea already. Hhmmm! It means I was lagging behind. I was September and I hadn’t applied yet.
What was keeping me?
Papa P had called some of our educated uncles to inform them I had passed and for them to advice on what I could read in the university. Of course, every parent wants his/her child to read what will bring money. We waited and waited but heard nothing. We didn’t know what I will read.
Secondly, “cocoa money no be done be ready.” How was I supposed to go to Buea without having money on me? I needed money for transportation, application process and small allowance. Besides, I knew no one I could spend the night with in Buea. Hence, I had to wait for Papa P to harvest, sell before I could make a move. However, Time was passing.
And then, on that fateful day, I called my two friends; Yvette and Gifty to ask them how far they had gone with their own application process. Gifty had applied for Journalism and Mass Communication while Yve went in for Management. Lucky enough for me, Yve was living in one of the towns around Buea, Ekona.
How I applied to become a First year university student.
After concerting with Papa P, village girl left Ediki that Wednesday morning with her small rappen and reached Ekona. “…Driver tooo open me eye sotey…Kumba to Ekona na 1k but driver menanse me sotey ei move kolo fap (1500frs) for my hand… I want fasch (vex) ei kick moto go. Small program whey repe give me start bole (finish) only for ntrang.”
Thursday, Yve and I hit the road to Buea. We did the necessary and went to submit my documents. I remember that was the day I had my first email address and mobile money account.
Upon reaching the registration office, the 2 women we met there told me I couldn’t apply for Accountancy and Management, my first and second choices respectively. “Na crying you want see? Weeh village girl.” What was their reason?
“…weeh! You would have been a very perfect candidate for this program but you won’t be accepted because you don’t ordinary level mathematics… your points are really good. Just apply for Journalism.”
With that, I consulted some of my friends and others who were more of guardians. With their consent, I changed my choices to Journalism and Law. Reading Law has never been my dream but I just had to put there for fear of being rejected. Only the stress involved in doing that thing eerrr! Each stage of the process had a long line. So, you had to make sure every document was present the pain of going in and being rejected was heartbreaking. It meant sanding on the line anew.
But I am sure things must have changed. We are gradually embracing the digital style of doing things. However, we succeeded in applying and I went back to my little hole though I almost trekked back because money got finished.
I am finally a UB student
After waiting for some weeks, I learnt the University of Buea admission list was published. I begged someone to check it for me on the internet. There my name was, with the Matricule number. Hhhhmmm! UB girl. My big sis was very happy. This meant I was supposed to start arranging housing for housing, feeding, clothing etc.
Papa P gave me some money and I went to meet my sister in Kumba to prepare me for school. Sis Blanch had always done so since when I was in form one. but before school, Papa P and I paid a visit to some of my elder friends in Buea because I was supposed to live with them in order to resume school.
All was set and done. I went back to Kumba, met my elder sis and we did some shopping and “Nyanga” too.
“Fresheur” (first year university) life proper
Hahahahahaha! Na so fresheur life take start ya she bought me nails ya and plaited “rasta” on my hair, my first time of doing so. “No be na me that I don carry box and bag chop di cam Buea.” My dad made sure I went with enough foodstuff; plantain, fufu, garri, palm oil etc. maaasssaaa! I saw many cars and travellers when I reached mile 17 park. Everywhere and one was busy.
“taxi, Bakweri town, abeg I get 200…”
Pim pim, “Came we go…na which kind heavy bags them you carry am so? You di go na for which place for Bakweri town?”
“Pala-pala field…for the field sef-sef”
I remembered the place very well and I couldn’t stop looking at the tall buildings. Eduke made sure she took note of everywhere the driver passed in order not to miss her direction.
Upon alighting, the taxi man reimbursed me 200frs and when I complained, he said my bags were too heavy. No problem, I removed them from his boot and before I knew it, he broke the one tyre of my valise. Ha! “Na so we go be for this place?” he had his luck he was in the ca, he would have repaired my new valise that day.
My roommate came to help me carry the bags I had brought. I could notice some funny looks as I walked past many people with my bags on my head. I didn’t have their time. When I offloaded and went to buy some edibles, the same boys looked at me with that kind of look. Don’t ask me the kind of eye. You know already. I was slim, fair, cute with plenty of sense and naïve too.
How was school life as a first year university student?
First day of school, I missed my class. I wasn’t alone. Gifty was with me. She was my google maps in UB because her big sis had showed her around the school. We sat in a level 300 class for almost 30 minutes before realizing we were in the wrong place. The funniest thing was that the bona fide lecturer and students of the class were laughing at everyone who stood up to go out. They easily identified them as fresheurs.
Gifty tapped me and said “…Di man, we dey na for wrong class ya…How we go do comot for inside here?” We knew they will laugh at us. So immediately the lecturer turned to write on the board, we packed our bags and rushed out quickly. Hahahhahha! Na laugh you want hear? He then turned and beckoned on us to come back sarcastically telling us to join his class.
Matriculation was coming and I called Papa P I needed a suit. Anyone who didn’t matriculate was sure not to graduate. Booomm! He sent some money for me to sew the suit. After all, I was his first fruit at the university. “Maassaa! Only coat for my skin for matriculation day. Na high shoe you want see o na hair? Wuna levam ya.”
I knew I was up there. We took lots of pics. Also, I saw many of my classmates I hadn’t seen for long.
Want to know if guys we’re pursuing me?
That one is normal Nah? I used to hear boys in Buea wait for fresheurs like us to come to start their chatting things. Ok. I had this at the back of my mind already so anyone who approached me then was wasting his time. From the quarter to school to rhe streets to church, everywhere there were guys willing to have us as girlfriends.
Life too was not easy ooo. There was a day i trekked from UB to Bakweri town because I didn’t have transportation. Since that day, I swore never to come to Molyko without money. I slept that day like I was suffering from sleeping sickness. Next day I no go me school ya.
There were days we went without food. “Strong man help eisef. Man be di first wear na some kind clothes them for go school. Money for even but handouts no dey. Chaiiiiii… poor no fine”.
So do you accept the guy’s request to be his girlfriend to get help or you start hungry? That is the dilemma our fresheurs go through. Tell us what you did to help your situation.
In all eehh, my year one experience was horrible.
“I almost run school. Man stay hungry tire. Trek sotey my own cam for Buea. Wonderful hairdos (na green, blue and red short greff you want see for my head or na rasta wey them use na one bundle crystal plait am?). Kind kind shoes and clothes wey person wearam. Money for handouts always lacking. Thank God for my friend Gifty. My rich chop is dey na garri and egg, only things them for typhoid.”
Lessons Learnt as a year university student
1. There is time for everything. You have to be resilient to make it. That was my time to sow. I am reaping the fruits now.
2. 80% of our African children do not get career orientation before studying whatever in the university. As a result, you find the majority of us studying not what we like but what the university wants us to read or what our parents want.
To this effect, everyone should aid their children in choosing what they want to study.
3. If you are doing anything for the first time, try and ask those who have done it before. I am saying so because the application process would not have been easy for me if I didn’t Yve first.