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admin April 30, 2023 No Comments

Hello from UofG — 1

“If you don’t go all out for something, you may never feel that pure, intense and undiluted happiness.” These are words said by Israel Adesanya, Style Bender, right after his first victory against Alex Pereira a couple of days ago, with whom he has fought three times and lost twice in the process.

To be honest, I think those words are golden!

Why do I think so? Here’s my reason.
Right after my undergraduate studies at the Federal University of Agriculture in Nigeria, the desire has always been to study abroad, as learning from experts with a ton of experience and research outputs in my field seemed so transformative for me.
Often times, the thought of studying with some of the brilliant and intelligent folks from across the world filled me with so much joy because the perpetual testing of one’s talents with brilliant minds has always been one thing I love to do.
So much so that I would go on YouTube during my UG days to learn about new innovations being developed by Harvard and Oxford students. And sometimes, I would search for speeches given by the schools’ valedictorians and immerse myself in every little detail therein.
And your thought is as good as mine; I always imagined being in such a position to give an interesting account of prayers, hard work, dedication, SMARTNESS, and just perhaps, brilliance.
As many prospective scholars would also desire, I wanted to experience conducting an experiment in a top-notch laboratory where I would not be asked to pay for the mistakenly broken test tube by lab attendants or lecturers in-charge, rather than focusing on providing safety gear in case of lab accidents.
And yes, I looked forward to studying in an environment where students are allowed to challenge other students’ perspectives or tutors’ views they think are incorrect or at six and seven about.
You might say I was big on seeing high school movies and how those students used to challenge their teachers in class then, right? Lol!
But those things aren’t out of place. Are they?
Transformative learning isn’t obtainable through a garbage-in, garbage-out approach. Students should be given the opportunity to express and defend their views — open discussions, collective debates, and intellectual exchange are a major route to developing and refining a student’s thinking.
I should not feel threatened or panic that my grades would be dealt with just because I challenge my tutor’s view on a theme while providing rationale in a modest manner for my claim.
Anyways, the above reasons fuelled my drive to seeking a fully funded scholarship to realize this aspiration. Then the journey began hundreds of moons ago with a few friends who never saw it as a far-reaching aspiration. Yes, many saw it as delusional and a waste of precious time. I agree scholarship hunts can be very daunting, but trust me; it isn’t insurmountable if you put your mind and considerable effort into it. Right off the bat, I applied for my academic transcript, medium of instruction, certificate (which took me several months to get, even with the intervention of prominent professors), and international passport.
I similarly pushed for publishing my UG thesis, which has been one of the best decisions I made in my scholarship hunts. I still remember how excited and elated I felt when my supervisor told me our submitted paper had been accepted for publication.
I co-authored three papers with renowned experts in my field in Nigeria. I am particularly grateful to Dr. Muhammad, who took me by hand throughout the journey.
One thing I am always proud of that I did then is setting up a 3-day meeting with Dr. Muhammad, who had just completed his Ph.D. programme in my field and asked him to describe and explain every parameter he evaluated in his Ph.D., which he graciously did.
I also asked him to teach me the software he used to analyze his data — he taught me how to use SAS to run ANOVA, regression analysis and the likes. He got to a point that he said, “Basiru, you’ve learnt everything I know already and I’m afraid I don’t have anything left to teach you again.”
As if that wasn’t enough, he introduced me to my now mentor and elder brother, Dr. Ayoola and Dr. Deji, who have equally played an important role in my progress. Am I super inquisitive? Maybe yes, and maybe no. But I think of myself as an odd thinker and a selective learner who mostly get excited to learn from folks who are genuinely ready to share their stories. Sorry, that’s just by the way, anyways. Now let’s get to the meat of things! So, I started applying for scholarships, including the Chinese Government Scholarship, Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP), Commonwealth Master’s and Shared, Turkish Buslari, and a couple of others.
Guess what? No sooner had I started applying than the love letters (rejection emails) began trooping in like a swarm of ants that has just discovered a left-over cookie. Yes, they say this is part of the journey, and truly, it is! But what reactions do you expect of a proverbial man whose biggest aspiration and desire is being crunched into pieces even before his own very eyes with carefully written “I regret to inform you” emails?
Sadness, right? Maybe a bit of depression or perhaps a very big disappointment and giving up. Yes, I always felt sad whenever those emails dropped, but the thought of giving up never crossed my mind for once. Maybe, I am wired differently or just maybe, the dream is just too big that I wouldn’t allow rejections to kill it for me. So, I kept at it. Most times, when I receive rejections, I would restructure my essays and send them out to a couple of folks to check for me — obviously, to those that believe in what I am doing and are taking or have taken a similar path. It got to a time when I felt I needed to write a standardized test (IELTS) to increase my chances. Yes, I eventually registered for and did the test. And truly, it did help in so many ways as I was able to apply to schools where I couldn’t apply to initially due to English language test requirements. And yes, it was a very easy decision to make, notwithstanding the circumstances under which I paid the money then. Have I ever regretted that investment even before winning a scholarship? No, because I relished the experience that comes with sitting for the examination. At least, I enjoyed bragging to Usman and Lanre about visiting a 5-star hotel in Ibadan and chatting with a native British speaker. Forgive me; I was just too local. Lol! And this is part of going for something in life — just go for it and enjoy every little detail that ensues in the process. And boom! The big Yes came in 2022 after several attempts at scholarships.
For the very first time in so many years, I felt that intense and pure happiness, as highlighted by Style Bender in his remarks. Pardon me, that was a lot of information; therein lies so many “by the ways.” But I guess if you have made it this far, you’ll agree with me that in life, you must go all out for something to be able to feel that happiness. No matter what the situation is now, you’ll triumph if you burst out of your shell and go for that single thing you’ve always longed for. Do not panic and be ready to ditch procrastination. Get it running now, and you’ll never remain the same — you’re closer to experiencing happiness you may never have felt before.
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