It is rare in the history of circumstances for everything we ever thought terrible to happen at the same time. From lateness on the rent, and overload at the workplace, to emergencies back home, it’s all enough to make adults plop on their behinds and be justifiably tempted to pull their hair out – every strand on top of the other. While the picture is not the same for the average scholar aspiring to a UI degree, we do find some similarities.
Have you forgotten? A vast portion of the UI bulk have erected their tents off-campus and, because they have missing academic value for money for the past eight months, will soon have to renew their credits. Then there is the benevolent portal. One moment it was there, the next it was taken offline by computers know what itinerant piece of the internet puzzle. So, we are technically indebted to landlords patiently – or no longer patiently (depending on what stage of the tenancy subscription renewal timeline you’re currently at) – waiting for their bank’s message, and we also have the rigours of paying cash that we aren’t lacking to stay on for the academic year.
Before you leave thinking that that is all, we have pretty much a hurricane of other issues to contend with. Look at these:
If you follow the UFC, you are probably familiar with the deadly Valentina Shevchenko who, among fans and all she intends to intimidate, alternatively answers to ‘Bullet Shevchenko’. The moniker was given at 12 when her coach admired her speed in the ring against a 22-year-old. In the absence of any immediate pointers, it would seem that the energy of that pre-teen martial artist is being channelled into prosecuting the semester’s lectures. Unlike what many expected, there was no attempt at introductions. No welcoming his and hellos in the form of slower-paced lectures for the first week. Like we never left, it has been a reunion marked only with the usual flurry of assignments and class activity.
Adjoining this is the issue of accommodation. While freshmen have a relatively smoother road to travel in securing one on campus, returning students follow a more circuitous and bumpier one. The abrupt cessation of activities when the strike commenced left processes hanging for those who were yet to complete theirs and upon resumption, the industrial action of the Non-academic Staff Union has not created ease.
And since we’re already on it, we might as well mention the elusive guarantee of actual enjoyment of lodgings, once settled. For days, halls at the geographical fringes of campus battled a break in power supply. The results are difficulties in using devices and accessing water. For those whose lot is it to climb multiple flights of stairs daily, there could not have been a more effective way to encourage migraine than forcing them to travel down for water once it was pumped, return empty-handed when it didn’t go around, and then hurry down again to fill containers when news of availability floats upwards.
Naturally, the encounter of Queen Idia Hall ladies in Indy will not escape this. That there would have been no need for the presidential drama goes without saying.
We all know this one. It is easily the foremost thought on our minds when we do things as casual to academic life as photocopying pages from a material. You ask yourself “how much will this cost now in view of inflation?”
Well, very much in the case of food and probably the same everywhere else. Walk into any of the school’s many cafeterias today and you find vendors, who were never exactly generous, to begin with, emboldened by a new reason to sell less. For a spoon that will leave a one-year-old requesting more, you pay a flat rate of a hundred naira. The attendant is careful of the proportions, scooping so well that nothing would spill from the little ladle if you collected it and ‘zanku-ed’ for a few minutes. In the end, you walk to your table with nearly a thousand naira reduction in your net worth and an unbothered-looking plate.
Now that is for the patronage of the cooked meal centres. At Bodija, the most likely place you would go to refill your stocks, it is not unusual to know one or two go-to traders whom you can cajole into being nice. Since prices went haywire, it is hard to discern between former favourites and the regular take-it-or-move-aside ones. The prices of staples remain uniform and immune to negotiation while luxuries have made quiet, frequently unnoticed shifts up the price ladder as well. Typically, parental pay packages, shy as it is their nature to be, scarcely move enough to approach the word ‘surplus.’ Perhaps it would not have been so bad if there no were other expenses to manage if we all simply stayed in place and somehow managed to be educated. But reality begs to differ.
Inflation has created a strain on the resources of students of the university who, now faced with turbocharged academics, must fight to sustain whatever alternative sources of income they explored during the strike action.
Eight months is indeed a long time, the penultimate to the eventual birth of a child. While a great percentage of students may not have found it a convenient time to conceive, one thing they did find was a landscape of opportunities waiting to be seized. From internships to extended virtual boot camps, the diversity of things students chose to explore for personal development is quite broad. The unpredictable nature of the industrial action posed threats to these involvements and these manifest themselves the moment it was terminated.
As we already highlighted above, twice the energy and time taken to commit to these activities during the strike will now be committed to maintaining them. This becomes extra significant when the intensive requirements of fellowships and certain training, such as those in the hands-on, practical field of tech are considered. There is an ever-present chance that students will cave under the stress, with many conceding these programmes in favour of their academics.
They exist aplenty. The past months put the majority to sleep but now that we’re back, they have returned to the edges of our consciousness. At the top of the extracurricular pecking order are students who juggle four memberships and above, each one demanding differently in terms of intensity. There are societies where events are a predominant norm, others where occasional events require hard-forward preparation, and even others where you pay your commitment due in weekly activities. Together, all are markers of a full UI studentship experience, but they each come at their costs.
Participating in extracurricular activities gives students exposure that is not typically found in class textbooks. They make us more appealing to employers, expand our networks, and even hone our ability to operate intelligently and independently in unfamiliar situations. However, with the rush of events in lecture rooms and the existence of new development pledges outside the walls of the institution, UI students now have life in a new form to deal with. There is no doubt that our borders will be extended, even as we work to maintain that academic quality for which we are so well known.
Social and Personal Life
One cannot in all honesty ignore the importance of this terrain in students’ lives. Besides the nagging impositions of finance and school work, we retain that part of ourselves that desires to have fun while at it. For UI, boring as our social life is touted to be, sporting activities, and hall and faculty events are ways to experience that fun. Those less interested in waiting for one of those to come around find themselves one of the multiple off-campus recreation spots to do their thing.
It is for this reason that it is saddening to see that few of the entertainment opportunities are on campus, and the facilities for it are in varying states of disrepair. Quick examples are the lawn and volleyball tennis courts close to the Faculty of Arts, the SUB swimming pool, and the Awo Stadium, which is the university’s primary centre for sports. In effect, the contraction of opportunities for social expression creates a fairly monotonous academic life.
Well, graft your hair back on if you have indeed started to pull it out. There isn’t much good that baldness, particularly with the sun’s unnerving efforts to shine brighter, can do you. To create more time for personal development, it is best to outline the most important things in your life at the moment. There is a certain reluctance that comes with letting some of your extracurriculars go, but if that is what is necessary to concentrate on emerging core areas, we advise you do it.
To protect your financial health, it helps to keep track of your expenses periodically. Consider how you are likely to spend during the coming month, create a budget for it and safely stash what’s left in a locked savings account (if you can afford that) or invest it in a likely-to-be productive venture that you are well-informed about. If you feel you do not have a lot on your plate already and would be better off earning more, then, by all means.
In the long run, you will find that it hardly takes more than a combination of healthier finances and optimized time to deliver adequately, not simply as a UI student but as an individual aspiring to be top-tier.