Dear INES, We Are Officially Over

2011 is the year I got into INES, a place that I would quickly learn to loathe.

I heard about INES Ruhengeri from my best friend. The small school in the middle of nowhere, Musanze, didn’t sound so appealing at first, until I learned they had a Biotechnology program. Oh, and it was run by Catholic Fathers who are known to be serious & committed when it comes to education. Decision made! Boy, I was in for a big surprise!

Within minutes of being there, I could feel the rot beginning to set in. The first thing that hit me was its uniquely depressing appearance.

To begin, there was a maze of things to figure out – who to get to know, where to go for this or that. A lot of my energy went into trying to make sense of the new environment. It felt overwhelming to start over in a new place with temperatures that were uncomfortably low. Also, coping with new people took me enormous energy.
As such, I suffered with my eating. I’d struggle to eat my meals. And on several occasions, I was physically sick. Even on the shortest of days, when I only had to be in class for a morning lecture, I’d go back to my place feeling physically and mentally drained, exhausted. My weight suffered greatly. I was scared and confused as to why this was happening because I’d never previously had a problem with my eating. Well, I was a picky eater but nothing more sinister than that.

At times I felt suffocated. I spent most of the time at my place, with little to do but read, watch movies and sleep. Though I tried, I never felt as though I belonged. My place (read: ghetto), was my safe haven.

There were days when I was so tired that I could barely drag myself out of bed to go to class. Those mornings when the alarm went off and I would lay in bed thinking to myself “do I really need an education?” All I wanted to do was sleep in or watch movies. But with my imminent future constantly on my mind, I couldn’t afford to sit on my butt, watching movies, while my classmates were studying.

Well, sometimes I did. If I woke up (feeling lazy) and felt like I didn’t want to go to class, then I didn’t go. There was no one around to force me to study, to go to class, or to get a good night’s sleep. However, to stay productive, I had to know how to control myself…I had to maintain my own schedule and develop my own study habits. So, generally in the days approaching exam time, I had to catch up with the rest of the class. Those were the times when I’d lots of work that even thinking about sleeping was a luxury. I would be pushing past midnight reading. On such occasions, it was hard to take a night off, even when my mental health depended on it. When my body said enough is enough and finally gave in, I would try to take a 20-minute nap but wake up 8 hours later confused as f*ck. 

It takes enormous self-control to go through the pressure of college life.
Generally, the pressures are financial problems and a lot of work to do. Though, personally I didn’t have any financial problems.

College life for me has been a series of the worst possible scenarios I could come in and during my final year, INES became a hellhole. The experience that can be deemed the worst would be when we had to submit our dissertations. After getting  the signature from my supervisor, I went to submit the dissertation only to find that 3 other different guys had to first review it before submission to the department. I was like…

It was like they took immense pleasure in tossing us around and making us wait. I always left the place swearing all the cuss words that I knew.

And I suppose this is what eventually brought about the problems INES is suffering from now, and what will probably be its downfall. INES Ruhengeri is a very bad university in terms of anything that management/administration should be really be judged on. It is terribly run. But things need to be tightened up, standards need to be improved. 

INES is full of people who really want to be there…like those students who ask a question that requires a 30-minute explanation, 6 minutes before the class ends. Seriously? And it always has to be to that professor who can’t leave a question unanswered. Those were the students who had obviously bought into a badly sold dream of bettering themselves and, at times, it was horrible to watch – knowing that they were doing five times as much work as me, but somehow we were still drifting along in the same leaky boat. Hehe. INES is an institution that needs a serious overhaul, but is instead potentially ruining the lives of thousands of people. 

Some people think being a student is easy. But being a student (especially being a student at INES) has never been easy. As with every struggle, studying calls for the grace of God. And the encouragement of friends and family.

College life, though it was fun at times, but make no mistake, it was exhausting. However, it has helped me grow as an individual.

The step into the real world is a scary one. Finding a job is horrifying because the job market is tough, now. It’s a real struggle and it’s hard to remain positive. Jobs that once took an associate’s degree now take a master’s, and debt-strapped students wallow in student loans. And there are those who are studying for a degree that may not be very helpful (at all) for finding work.

Graduation is glowing in all its golden glory a few days away. I’m super glad I’m finally done with INES… With all that’s cost me, I’ll not miss INES or anything that has to do with it. And I’ll not miss being a student any time soon.

Sincerely,
The student who won’t miss you.

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One journey, One Purpose: To Claire and Placide

Today I’m invited to eat and drink while my best friend a.k.a my Tante is getting married.
Our story began in 2009, when I first saw her during the Ingando. I knew from the start that there was something special about her. Her weird light shone bright and I instantly knew that she was that crazy girl that I wanted to get to know. Then when we got to campus, I met her again and this time she was one of my roommates. I was happy to share a room with her.

However, I don’t know how we became friends…it just happened and now she’s one of my very few but close friends. I’ve been given many blessings and I’m thankful for whatever brought us together. 

Claire has been and is an incredible friend. Her amazing soul, the depth of her heart, her little quirks, her ability to be honest and upfront yet supportive…Claire is, quite simply, the best! She’s one of the most amazing people ever! She is reliable…I’ve always counted on her, which is always nice to have in a friend. I have a few wonderful women in my life and she’s definitely one of them. She’s one of the very few people I don’t know how my life would have been without them. No matter how dark any day got, she was always a bright light that shined. She was always there with a smile, and a word or two of encouragement. 

As I still spent time kissing toads (hehe), she met her soulmate. Then it finally happened…he got down on one knee and asked her the four-word question. And she said yes. My heart was filled with happiness when she told me about the engagement. Now, she’s getting married (sounds weird to say that).

Today, she embarks on the next stage of her life with her Mr Right, Placide. As I watch her live the fairy tale that we read about as kids, I’m reminded just how important she is to me…how much I love her, how much I admire her, how much I’m proud of the woman that she is.

To you my Tante Kler, you’re my role model in so many ways. You inspire me just by being yourself. I love you. Thank you for always being closest to me even when we were in separate stages of life. We all get distant to a certain degree when we make huge transitions in life. However, you didn’t drift away and let me get very far. Thank you for never giving up on our friendship.

I want you to know that you are an amazing human being that deserves the best in the world. You are worthy of all the love in the world and I believe you have found it in him. I’m so glad you found the one who makes your heart and soul happy.

Marriage won’t be easy, but I know you are a strong woman. God made you extra special and made your husband especially for you, so together you will overcome any challenge that your future faces. 

I don’t need to tell Placide everything wonderful about you, because he already knows all. I want to thank him. Thank him for making your dreams a reality. Thank him for giving you the fairytale that you so very much deserve. I hope that he loves you in a way that makes you believe in love every single day.  

The moment you both said “I do” you became one. One marriage, one journey, one purpose. My wish is that your love for another grows every single day. 

I love you, always my Tante.

To Claire & Placide.