I’m five years older than her, but six classes ahead. That is to say, we never meet in school. I’m always about leaving when she’s about entering. Primary. Secondary. It’s always been the same. It was supposed to still be the same in tertiary, as I was to study a six-year course that meets our six-year class gap. Many thanks to the protracted training of medical students that keeps me longer, and the “here-and-there” strikes and delays from the medical body, the university, and the infamous ASUU, we meet in the same school, finally. I’m supposed to have things to tell her – should have. I’ve walked this terrain she’s about to tread. I’m older and wiser, and her elder sister.
Here’s what I have to tell my sister (my one and only sister, as she refers to me – whenever she needs a favour from me) because I have to.
“We owe it to each other to tell our stories.” – Neil Gaiman
1. Have a checklist of things you’ll like to accomplish in the university.
I had no goal – asides becoming a doctor, on coming to the university. I didn’t realize this until I heard a friend say on a certain day, “I’m happy. My university days have been fulfilling. Everything I set to achieve – real friends, travel, participation – I’ve achieved them,” with an enviable relish spread across her face. And then I asked myself, “What did you set to achieve on coming here?”
I could not answer. Had I given it some thought even then, maybe I’d be more fulfilled on graduating from the university. But it’s OK. Even if it didn’t happen then, it’s happening now, which is a good thing as my days ahead looks promising. And honestly, I can’t wait. These past eight years, however, would have been more fulfilling had I asked myself this question before coming here or answered it then.
You’re going to spend about the same length of time in the university as I did. You’re studying Pharmacy, a six-year course, which means you’re going to be here a while. And I would love you to make the most of those years. If you can have a great life, why settle for a mediocre one? So, I ask you, “What would you like to achieve in the university?” Make a list, and check them off.
Footnote: I have come to the realization that at every stage in life, before any venture, it is important that one has a goal for that stage – what they would like to achieve. If you can’t set those out on your own, ask questions, inquire from those who are ahead of you on that path. “What should I aim to achieve at this stage?” is a question you can ask.
2. Join an association and be active.
I had a friend in year one. Ovieni. We were both invited by FECAMDS (Federation of Catholic Medical and Dental Students) and CMDA (Christian Medical and Dental Association) for their activities.
She fell in love with CMDA after we attended their first-year student’s welcome party. I, on the other hand, didn’t get hooked like she did and never did the rest of my stay in school.
She left in year two to the Rivers State Government Scholarship Scheme that sponsored her education in the UK. Had she stayed, maybe, I might have had a strong enough pull some years later when I was considering giving CMDA a chance? It was simply a case of no love at first sight.
I told you both FECAMDS and CMDA tried to pull us in their directions. FECAMDS was the more inviting of the two and because most of my friends at the time were Catholics, and hence FECAMDSITES, I was pulled more to them. From attending their tutorials to their prayer meetings, I became a FECAMDSITE – even though we aren’t Catholics. But I left in my second year, complaining about what didn’t matter initially – that I wasn’t Catholic and so it felt odd, which should.
There’s also AIESEC, another great association that could spice up your stay in the university. I’ve spoken to you, and just like I wasn’t, you don’t sound eager to join the CMDA family. I’m not sure your reason though. It would be unwise to coax you. I can only guide you, but then, if none of the religious and medical associations gets your attention to join, you may want to consider AIESEC.
For most people, their best university memories and friends are made in these associations.
Be a part of a people. Be active. Make memories. Find friends. Don’t just exist through the university, LIVE.
3. Join a fellowship. Become a pastor if you have to, but my point is: serve God fervently in your youth.
The university is a good place to serve God. It presents a lot of opportunities that if taken up can propel one to great heights. Aside from the privilege and opportunity to serve God fervently, most of these fellowships serve as good training grounds. You learn to speak. You become more confident, responsible and accountable. You get the opportunity to mentor people and be mentored by others. Most of these developmental spurts you don’t notice while still in school or may if you are self-aware. They come to life more when you are out of school, and those who let themselves be trained by it find out that they are better and more valuable individuals in the society.
I didn’t have good luck with any of the medical associations, but I did find a fellowship that I fell in love with at first sight. The first and only fellowship I attended and belonged to while in school, Christian Fellowship International (CFi). You know about this fellowship, from the time I was an active member (in CFi language, a CFite to the DNA), when I would give no one at home rest because I was either gushing about my pastors or some event the fellowship is about to have (maybe JAM Summit) or plainly how wonderful my fellowship was.
I’m glad to say I had my best university experience in CFi and most of the best friends I made in the university were made in CFi. So, what would it be for you?
I must add that during your matriculation reception, organized by Charles, our brother, who happens to be the vice president of the fellowship you currently attend, when you were called to say how the fellowship has benefited you, and you leaned one elbow on the pulpit, and held the mic in a casual manner slanting it across your chin, you did look like a pastor and a cute one.
Until next week Thursday.