May 2016

The last year in brief

It’s been so long since I wrote on medium. I really miss it. Since I had previously written openly about my some aspects of my journey, I thought it was only fair to give a brief update.

This time two years ago, I was too afraid to apply to grad school. This time last year, I was trying to pick between some of the best law schools in the world. I finally decided on Columbia and while it turned out to be an AWESOME choice, it wasn’t all smooth. This last year has been the most exciting year of my life — so far, I have made friends that have become family and I have come to fall in love with New York City.

but … it has also been one of the hardest years of my life (a part of me is hoping that somehow I have reached the peak of hardship and it only gets easier from here).

There were times where I have been frustrated about being so far away from home, pulled my hair out of loneliness (moving to a new place is usually rough at first) and had to sleep in the library for one week straight because I had no where else to go, my lease had expired and I couldn’t afford to renew it. The Librarians probably just termed me an overzealous student. Trust me, I am anything but that.

On the day I arrived NYC, the first things that shocked me were the filth and the number of homeless people. My travel companion and myself had gotten an overpriced hotel Mid-town on the first night and because we could barely afford anything on the menu, we decided to step out to look for affordable options. Right outside the hotel (it was about 3am), I saw the most number of people I have ever seen sleeping outdoor. And people walked by like it was nothing. I was in shock for a while. But after living here for about a year — I’ve probably become one of those people who walk by NYC homelessness like it is nothing.

The filth — I lived, worked and was born in Lagos, so only few places should surprise me. New York City surprised me. The smell hit me as soon as I the automatic doors at the JFK opened up. Where was the fantastic “abroad scent” that you smell off the “yankee things” benevolent friends and family sent to you back in Nigeria? Nothing, zero, zilch. The floor felt slimy — i remember complaining about this for weeks. I later learnt that NYC is at it’s ‘dirtest’ around the time I arrived, so I accept all blame. It was bad timing on my part.

In all the (academic) year ended well. It started with me leaving Nigeria with only about $2k to graduating with not one but three Fellowships (I haven’t checked but it is probably the first time this has happened in my program).

I am a private person but I choose to tell stories like this because I believe that there’s no encouragement greater than young women honestly telling stories of survival … swimming against the tide and somehow making it to the finish line regardless.

There hardly been enough time to breathe and I am a little stressed from the ‘hustle’ of the last year but I am proud of my scars and stress marks. I still intend to write that book as promised, a new chapter just got added.



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