Today’s post is from Sisbusisiwe Mukwakwami, a very talented freshman student studying at the University of California Berkeley. Sibusisiwe is from Zimbabwe and last year won a national prize in that country’s Black History essay competition, among other honors. She’s currently exploring several areas of study, including Economics, Literature and Molecular Biology.
It’s 6.30 am , and I have been awake since 11.30pm, studying an interesting thesis on the role of animals in the colonization of New England, ”Creatures of the Empire”. I had never thought of that, that animals could have so much impact. I get into my bed to have my daily devotional. I feel sleepy. I try to overcome the dizziness but I finally succumb.
I have a lesson at 8am and this thought continues to swirl over my head as I sleep. Aint no Proust story. I have a state of consciousness in my sleep. I wake up at 7.45 and my lesson begins at 8, so I take a quick shower, dress up and gobble down my breakfast. I’m done at 8.07 and the lecture is several blocks away from my dorm. As usual I run down the steps and gallop to class. I have gotten used to it. Here they call it the freshman’s walk… running everywhere, at all times.
Of course I am afraid of being labeled ‘The road runner,’ but really, everyone else is running too, some on their scooters, others on their bikes. My first days here in the U.S, I thought, “these guys are strange”. When they smile, they smile for a second and look away. I understand it now. There is so much work to do, and you do not want to end up in a long conversation in the corridors. I love this crazy busy- ness; so much is accomplished.
It’s 12.13 and I have a tennis class at 12.15. I have just been deeply immersed in my study of how the third world came to be what it is today. I dash out of the dorm for the Hearst Gym, my racket and satchel buckled on my back. At 12.15 I’m gasping for breath holding on to the handrails as I walk up the stairs onto the courts.
So, what am I saying here? You may be a prospective student from a beautiful place like Africa, where I’m from, where there really is no hurry, and the definition of university is that it’s generally less work than high school, at least less pressure. If you share this perception with as me, and are considering enrolling here, the first thing you want to do, is to change your definition of University. It is hard work and tight schedule. Come with that in mind, and you will do great!