Oh, the Power of Retrospect: Why I Will Always Love USIU

At the end of August 2010, I finally graduated from USIU with a degree in ‘blah blah blah’. I shared the moment with my drinking buddies, best friends, former best friends, comatose class mates and other bits of USIU furniture.

In our day, bitching about USIU was an acceptable pastime. We couldn’t get enough. The not-quite-right food in the cafeteria, with all it’s creepy cats. The barely dressed freshmen at Fifi’s making eyes at the Nigerians. Too much work. No internet. Library books weighing a tonne. Bzzzzzzzzzzzz….the sound of endless whining and moaning.

Anyway, fast forward 2011, and  I was logging on to my current school’s intranet to upload some assignments. My friend asked me, ‘did you have that shit back in Kenya?’ I said, ‘Hell yeah, and it worked most of the time!’

And that got me thinking…

A little comparison between USIU and my current school wouldn’t do any harm….

1. Show me the money: Every year in June, GoK lets us know that we have to pay a little more for bread and beer. And USIU adjusts the budget, upwards. Because students still need to eat poisonous mince meat in the cafetereria. And the the little issue of the multimillion dollar library (that was) being built. Not to mention the expansive hockey fields, multimedia center and the like.

But my peoples up here? Finally got a ‘triple crown’ rating. It’s a big deal, because only six other schools in France have it. It’s prestigious and presumably says something about the quality of education here.  Their reaction? Increase the school fees, increase the number of students (minimum sixty), reduce the number of trips and fire a couple of lecturers. Also, charge for all the other previous freebie stuff. Oh, and nothing else changes. Capitalism much?

2.It’s all in the fine print. You said Internet: Students are often a bunch of whiney little brats who will complain at the slightest defect in facilities. ‘What do you mean I have to carry three free course texts per subject?’ What is this? ‘A three storey, fully stocked library with private study carousels?’ ‘Jesus Christ! You threw in a shitty dispensary AND a free gym?’ ‘Have mercy Lord, we can subsidize our club trips and activities?’ Off with their heads I say! Communists!

In the land of accreditations,  there are at least 4 000 students here. Our library is spread out over one floor. I can see the entire collection by doing a matrix 360 degree turn in slow motion.  But don’t worry, we have ‘wi-fi’ and you can log on to do ‘research’ (facebooking each other about the professor’s gay earring) as long as you are willing to try connecting for at least half an hour. Really, I should have brought my safaricom modem.

Our projectors turn the most artistic  ppts into a hideous mass of yellow, and the cool lecturer who wants to show  a movie? He cant- our sound system died a slow death somewhere at the beginning of the century. You want to exercise? Take a walk to town. Feeling sick? Practice your French with the public health system. But don’t forget to pay your triple crown fees, s’il vous plait.

4.Rainbow Nation: We go starry eyed talking about diversity. We salivate over posters of happy, multicolored university students. Triple crown has got diversity. Lots of it. It’s a mini UN up in here. It’s a pity we spend all day with exactly the same people.

I don’t know, I liked rotating classes in USIU. Seeing spaced out Psych students and strung out IST guys. Collaborate with nerdy accounting types. I liked that I could pick and choose my classes, and there would always be that weird guy at the back of the class with ‘out there’ opinions.

But I’m back in primary school. Same faces, different day. Over and over again. 9.00 to 5.00. At least we get to go to ‘open bar’ parties with ambulances waiting outside to treat the regular alcohol poisoning and sprained ankle.

The thing is, we are like a hundred little schools crammed into a couple of buildings. There is the MGE which is not the same as the Msc, which is better than the IFI, which ranks better than the ISCPP which is not as bad as the ISCE…so we live together, but only because we have to- and our directors battle viciously for financing, so not much love lost there.

5. Event Management: You know how they say ‘too many cooks spoil the broth?’ They knew what they was talking about. Things can get tricky when the person in charge of examinations is not the same person in charge of assignments who is not the same person in charge of course outlines who is not the same person in charge of the classroom who is not in charge of the timetable and no one knows where your lecturer is. Let’s put it this way- I sat an exam in October 2010 and I don’t know if I passed or failed- even though school ends in May.

So Kudos to USIU, who had my certificate ready in April- a whole 4 months before graduation.

And then there was Fifi’s, where we all happily complained about Gillie and Ken and not knowing anyone in the bar anymore. Nothing will ever compare to having a drink with my people there. Call it nostalgia. (And, as soon as I leave triple crown, I will have another basket full of nostalgia too)

…One thing I won’t miss though, is that ridiculous song we called our Alma Mater. I mean, really???

Of course, I will remember all the good and beautiful times I had here. And all the nutty professors and all the afternoons spent discussing the nuances between branding and selling. Most of all, I will remember all the things that forced me to grow up, or as my professor says, ‘You brats need to learn to look at the bigger picture- and stop complaining so much’.

btw: what do you miss the most about school?

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8 thoughts on “Oh, the Power of Retrospect: Why I Will Always Love USIU

  1. savvy kenya

    Sounds to me that education in Kenya, could compare to education worldwide! In a sense we’ll always love our Alma mater, the first university we studied in.

    Is there anything you like about your current uni?

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    1. WairimuM Post author

      That’s a good questions: I like the town, it’s really pretty, and I like the admin, very helpful and of course we have our triple crown status now. 😀

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  2. jayryl

    I want a digg button, stumble button, tweet button and facebook button on this site!

    This article is hilarious but you forget a few things about USIU:
    Did you ever hear of a price drop despite the fact every year the SAC chair(that figure-head of a figurehead that was the student council) aspirants promised that something would change…interesting thing…one of the aspirants once told me that there was nothing they could do, the position needed to be filled by someone.

    Nothing beats the commercial nature of that school; truth be told, USIU students spend more than any other university students in Nairobi hence the heavy advertising that goes on in that school circa Fall 2010- they plastered the Cafeteria with a barrage of Nokia Wallpaper…sad! Everything is being sold there-even take-way bags!

    Mad respect for the school? No, try the brochure!

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    1. WairimuM Post author

      Well, first off, of course prices are always adjusted upwards: but it has to be justified. These guys over here raised the fees by 15% in one year, almost doubled the number of students to be enrolled and trimmed out two school trips…because they got an accreditatioin (which involves a lot of schmoozing and not as much rigorous academic requirements as you would imagine). Secondly, if you compare USIU’s fees with the other private schools in Kenya, (CUEA and the others, that is), last I checked we were definitely getting a much better deal. There are some ppl who are much more ruthlessly commercial in the name of education.

      Oh, now you reminded me just how much SAC sucked. looool and ‘Mr n Miss USIU’….but you know they say you never forget your first 🙂

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      1. savvy kenya

        You’re right, if you compare USIU to other unis in Kenya, you’ll realize you’re not really overpaying…

        I guess triple crown is like being ISO certified? The only thing that changed was school forms, exam papers etc that now had ISO certified printed @the top!

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      2. WairimuM Post author

        Maybe it is, I know ISO has a sh*load of different standards. All I know about about triple crown is that we are the seventh business school in france to receive it. And the more little letters you have after the name of your school, the higher ranked you are. It has to do with research, that much I know (ata USIU are always struggling to upgrade themselves), hopefully better quality education…

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  3. JULIA

    hiii, i kept on reading your blog, word by word and oh my, USIU is till tops in many aspects.

    i cleared there in Spring 2011 and will be graduating in 4 months.

    i have been to France but not experienced their school life.

    enjoy your time there…
    cheers.

    j.

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    1. WairimuM Post author

      thank you- it’s called hindsight! where did you go in france? Did you like it? Any funny stories?

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