THE PAST THREE MONTHS (Surviving Graduate School)

iyosayi14 General, Reflections 1 Comment

‘Life is not what I thought it was
Twenty-four hours ago
Still I’m singing ‘Spirit,
Take me up in arms with You’
And I’m not who I thought I was
Twenty-four hours ago’
– Twenty four (Switchfoot)

Someone recently asked if I don’t write anymore, and my response was I have been busy writing academic papers for the past three months.
It always felt morally wrong to write a journal when I had pending coursework with tight deadlines. Journaling is still important in helping me handle life pressures, so the next best thing I did was to note down my thoughts on my phone to help me declutter.

I was excited to resume graduate school the last week of February. That’s one of the main reasons I decided to relocate – an opportunity to upskill and create opportunities for myself afterward. Orientation week went by calmly, with classes starting in earnest the following month. The Professors wasted no time in hitting us with assessments that felt like mini projects which needed to be completed within strict time frames. This went on for three months with no breaks; as one was ending, another one was begging for attention. Meanwhile, I had to juggle this with work and my personal life while also attending classes. Sure enough, it got overwhelming and set me on a path of chaos.

I chatted Seyi saying I now get why he used to disappear from social media while he was doing his M.Sc in Italy. He replied –

I found his response comforting because I was fast beginning to think I didn’t have it in me to handle graduate studies and work. I was so frustrated and confused that I thought I’d not be able to meet the deadlines. I wondered how those before me did it, or were they okay failing some courses? Did they make it appear so easy while not telling the hard truths? The general belief is that Nigerians excel when they go for studies abroad. It wasn’t adding up, and I remember driving home one day, thinking to myself, Sayi, you just uprooted your peaceful life in Nigeria (after resigning from my job) and came here to scatter my happiness.

Yomidudu asked if I was already well settled in. I responded that every semblance of peace I had been enjoying since relocation seemed to have scattered as school resumed. I was on the brink of giving up. I thought about packing it up and going back to Nigeria with the little money I had saved up. I was only just recovering from the turmoil of the past two years, and I wasn’t ready to head into another life crisis. Interestingly, I found strength in these words from Donald Trump (I would never have thought. I mean, same Donald Trump?) I posted the video and said this is the one time I’ll take the message and ignore the messenger.

“If I give you one message to hold in your hearts today, it’s this; never ever give up
There’ll be times in your life you’ll want to quit, you’ll want to go home
You’ll want to go home perhaps to that wonderful mother that’s sitting back there watching you and say – ‘Mom, I can’t do it…I can’t do it’
Just never quit
Go back home and tell Mom, Dad – ‘I can do it…I can do it, I will do it!’
You’re going to be successful”

I also remembered how crazy the early stages were when I started a program at Uniben and contemplated dropping out, but after a while, I found balance and got used to the new routine. This memory kept me going, helped me be still, and I stayed in my struggle till I got the hang of it.

One would think with these experiences, I won’t feel a certain way when faced with challenges, but alas, I guess I’m only human. The storms will come, and I’ll get rocked, but what stabilizes me is drawing strength from past experiences and knowing it will not consume me.

– Jamie Varon

In the chaos, I found calmness through talking with friends who had gone through similar experiences, prayed, and took a week off work to recalibrate, and even to date, I still find myself reciting these words from the Holy book – “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” – Philippians 4:11–13. These words have helped in calming my anxieties whenever I’m faced with a difficult task or tasks I’d normally shy away from.

As the semester progressed, it became easier to juggle school and work. The way my mind works and paints horrible pictures tho… It was barely the second week of March, and it felt like I would not be able to meet up with the first set of assessments due the first day of April. Cutting down on extra-curricular activities and staying off social media were of great benefit. I had to intentionally calm myself down and breathe. Change, I’ll say it a million times, change is never an easy process for me. Well, I persevered, and soon enough, I found balance.

I was able to submit all assessments before their due dates, having a moment of relief whenever I completed an assignment and had to close all web pages I referenced. Having multiple tabs open or app notifications piling up drives me crazy on a normal, but mehn, I had to deal. My substack subscriptions were piling up in my emails, the same with articles on my phone’s browser.

I had distinctions in almost all my courses (even had some high distinctions) save for one course I hope to never encounter the Professor again. There must always be that one difficult lecturer.

Even though it took me till the last week of the semester to finally know my way around the campus, I think I experienced my University to a reasonable extent. I learned new things and did what I could to experience the school, even if work demanded much of my time. Overall, I think I did well balancing both. I didn’t make lots of friends, but I did interact well with my coursemates from other nationals and worked well with them in group assessments. I made just one friend from my elective course – Isaac, who’s also a Nigerian.

My most memorable unit is Culture & Ethics, where during my presentation, I experienced power failure for the first time in this country (the only time I have experienced power failure here). Hello village people? Thankfully it all worked out for me, and I was able to present my topic well despite my slides being off till the end of the presentation. This earned me praise from the Professor, and I got 90% on that assessment.

In my head, it is one semester down, three more to go. The next semester resumes in the first week of August, and I trust it will be easier to navigate based on the experience I have had. I believe I will be able to manage my time better and navigate my schedule properly, including the extra school program I have recently registered for (more of creating options for myself and also trying to explore to have a fuller wholesome life). But yeah, I’m expecting the start to be chaotic while I try to settle into my new schedule and balance all key aspects of my life. However, I won’t forget to give myself space to go through the haze and also remember my sure ally – time. I’ll live each day one day at a time, reminding myself that I can do all things through God’s help while taking deep breaths to center myself.

– Charles Isidi

One thing I’m beginning to truly believe about myself is that I’m quite a resilient guy. I might not notice while I’m going through my shit, but in retrospect, I see it.
So here’s looking forward to the next three months of semester work, and, just maybe, I’ll be able to overcome the guilt of journaling alongside writing academic papers.

Here’s a post I made early this month on Instagram to celebrate my 6th months anniversary in Australia –

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