It is freshman season in most local universities; I take this chance to welcome you all to campus. When the Magazine Reel Editor assigned me to do this piece, I undoubtedly knew that it would not be an easy task. There can’t possibly be a foolproof manual that fits all to use while living in campus; in fact, there is no manual at all. Most of the time you will have to navigate through situations that only your own experience can help. Seeing as I am a fourth year though, there are a few notes I can share with you about life in campus and how to come out in one sane piece!
During ‘welcome week’ this is what you will be all anxious about. There will be so many new people around and deep within you you’ll be wishing you could hook up with as many friends as possible to begin campus on a high note. Everyone is nervous and over-cautious during the first week so chances are no friends yet; you will feel lonely and awful! You’ll start panicking about not having people to go with to class and stuff like that. Heck you’ll even entertain the thoughts of traveling back home for good!
The people you have encounters with during the first few weeks on campus always turn out to be lifetime friends. The ladies you cheekily cut the line with, your first roommate, the cute guy who helped with your suit case etc, they always end up as campus bff’s! To survive campus though you will need at least three female friends and one male friend. You can reverse the genders to your own appropriation. I have 3 female friends who somehow ‘complement’ my stay in campus: you’ll need a Barbs, a Njeri & a Nyar Kisumo.
Barbs: She is that friend who is there for your emotional needs- boyfriend drama, family issues, post- virginity blues etc! She is a good listener and does not judge; most of the time she gives a shoulder to lean on and listens to your shenanigans late into the night. There are way too many events on campus that will threaten your emotional stability and having a compassionate friend goes a long way in helping you cope emotionally.
Njeri: She is the realist and will help you make informed decisions while in campus. Being a realist means she is also financially disciplined so anytime you feel like you can afford a shopping spree, consult her first. So you have a huge crush on this cute senior and you think he likes you too? Invite Njeri the next time you meet him up and be sure she can tell apart a guy who loves you from a fisi. While she won’t advice or listen to your shenanigans, she will however tell you some hard truths like when your weave looks plain ugly or if you’re flirting with people too much.
Nyar Kisumo: She is the classy one who looks and behaves like a seasoned senior. In freshman year chances are you will be a bit clumsy and everything from your dressing to your mannerisms will need polishing. Be calm, as long as Nyar Kisumo is around you will have a celebrity stylist, chef and PR guru all for free! She will always disapprove of your choice of boyfriends and dismiss them as ‘sufferers’. Given the slightest chance, she’ll hook you up with a politician; keep off any relationship interventions from Nyar Kisumo! If you ever experiment with alcohol, chances will be that it’s Nyar Kisumo mixing the cocktails and advising you on which ‘soft’ alcohol you should do as a starter. Rule of the thumb when dealing with Nyar Kisumo: always get a second opinion from the realist, Njeri.
RELATIONSHIPS & SEX
Everything you have been told about male- female relations in campus is true. Keep in mind that most of the senior guys after you are either creeps out for sex or outright losers who cannot score with any senior girl. Seek to build friendships with people and get to know their dating history before settling in a relationship. Do not be deceived, not everyone in campus is having sex.
If you feel that pre-marital sex is not for you it is ok to stick to that. Pressure may build for you to give into sex demands as the same man you love will probably want it with threats of booting you if you do not oblige. Apart from the occasional 5 second- long orgasm which you are not even guaranteed to have, nothing good rarely comes out of sexual activity in campus. Please make use of contraception if you must engage in sex, condoms can go a long way in saving you from things like unwanted pregnancies and deadly STI’s. Have an open mind while dating; anything from the un-ceremonial booting to being cheated on can happen. If you find love, good for you; if not there are equally interesting things you can involve yourself in while in campus. Oh, for the love of God DO NOT go about washing clothes for your boyfriend and nonsense like that, you have shit to do as well seeing as you’re both in college.
One last thing- ‘working class’ men are overrated and anyone old enough to be your dad wanting to get into your pants is a likely carrier of a dreaded virus.
Being a freshman you must be loaded with money from the student loan and relatives. Be a wise spender otherwise you will be hungry and broke before you know it. Stay true to your financial abilities my friend, hanging out with rich kids and spending your money changing weaves weekly and shopping extravagantly will land you in financial trouble. Make a budget and keep aside enough money for food, learning materials, transport etc before engaging in further spending.
No one escapes the campus recession that hits in 3rd year, not even the rich kids. Parents suddenly stop giving you cash regularly and expenses shoot up. Lecturers are also giving textbook- size handouts for you to photocopy. If you can, join the school sports team or the entrepreneurial clubs, trust me, the allowances they give out may look like pocket change right now but will be your saving grace come 3rd and 4th years. Find a job during long vacations and save the money. Avoid losing things like phones, laptops etc, replacing them messes your budget.
The beauty of campus is that you get to meet people with diverse beliefs and get to know all about them. It does not however mean that you betray your own beliefs to be agreeable with your friends. It is very possible to be close friends with people who have different beliefs without changing; it’s all about tolerating and respecting your diverse views. Behaving like a ‘holy Jo’ and judging people will not only isolate you from people but will breed a resentful attitude from everyone. By all means stay true to your beliefs though; campus only lasts for 4 years.
You will also notice the diversity in terms of style in campus, from the conservative flowing skirts to the daringly liberal ones. At this point I can inject in my dose of Feminism knowledge. I have read all manner of Feminist literature touching on the issue of dress code and I can assure you it all boils down to one person’s views: yours. You are as empowered wearing a bui bui complete with hair covered as the other person wearing a mini- dress is, as long as it’s both your personal choices.
Rape happens in campus, especially in parties more than it is reported. Male friends take advantage of their inebriated female friends to do all manner of violations to them, most of the time it is never reported or even interpreted as rape by the victims. I wish our form of Feminism had reached the level of Western countries where the onus to ending the rape culture lies with the perpetrators. This is Africa and things are yet to advance to a stage where no one will judge you for being raped while drunk. This may not be the most progressive statement I have ever made but kindly take care of your personal security and be on the lookout for possible offenders on campus- and they are not very far from the people you trust.
Get out there and build a social life- campus is the last chance education gives you to undo your messed up high school social life and build meaningful networks and friendships that can last.
This is your core business while in campus, the rest only occupy supporting roles to ensure you live an all- rounded life. Develop an interest in your field of study- that way you won’t see attending lectures as some form of punishment. It is normal to fail and re-take some papers, get missing marks etc- just make sure you resolve your academic woes as soon as they occur. Joining campus is easy, graduating a different story altogether. In freshman year no one attempts to cheat as the dean’s warning about the 1000 days suspension is still fresh in mind. If you can, avoid compromising yourself while in the exam room as the consequences are clearly dire.
I wish you the very best as you begin the most significant step in building your career of choice.
Vehlma Lumadi is a final year student of Finance and Banking at Maseno University