Tag Archives: masters

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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