For today's post, I am bringing another of my plenty tales from my days in Hungary.
Those years really shaped me a lot.
I resumed school later than most people, most of them were coming from all around Europe and I was coming from far away Africa. By the time I resumed, I had a talk with the registrar who told me I was so far behind on the course load and I would need to work twice as hard to ensure I wasn't left behind.
I ran off from there telling myself I could do it. I locked myself up and started studying like crazy. By the time I got to school, I realized everyone that was in school was basically focusing on orientation programmes, socializing and more things that screamed a massive "fun, fun, fun".
"What was that registrar taking about?" I asked myself again. I was way ahead of everyone in the class, it was so apparent. I loved how easy it was to follow the lectures, since I was up to date with the revisions for the topics that were taught the previous weeks. For some, I even read the things that were not yet taught. I loved the feeling and I decided to keep it; I kept the habit of preparing for the classes before time.
When I attended my very first class, the teacher took us up on a challenge. We were supposed to have twelve weeks of study for different topics he considered extremely relevant and he said he would give a short assessment at the end of each topic. He promised that anyone who could pass all twelve tests would be exempted from the final exams. According to him, he wanted to ensure that we were well acquainted with these topics and it was very important for us to prove that, either before or during the real exams. Now the final exams would be made up of like mashed up questions from all twelve topics, while the weekly assessments only focused on one. "How could that not be easier?" I thought to myself. I braced up to the challenge and gave it my all.
The first semester, I concentrated on passing all the tests. It was very funny. Just after the first few tests, my colleagues were talking about trying to confront the teacher about putting up such a high standard. They were sure no one was going to make it. We were all working hard, but it was looking like I was the only one who hadn't failed any test thus far. One of the very "wannabe smart" ones approached me about it. He wanted me to show solidarity and fail the tests. I looked him in the face and told him there was no way I would deliberately fail a course I knew I could pass, especially one he would give anything to pass. I remember how everyone struggled to make the tests and they only resolved to that after they tried hard at it to no avail, so what was he talking about?
The first day my problem started was when the teacher announced that someone made it.
And it was the "quiet black girl" that people would readily not consider relevant. Hey might I add, from a third world country - Nigeria. I just had to rub that in, pardon me :)
Our anatomy teacher also offered to break the upper and lower extremities into two sections and offered to exempt anyone who was able to score up to 15/20 in the assessments for each part before the final exams and guess who also made it?
Right there I had two less exams to worry about, two very important ones and most importantly, they were already certified grade 5. The highest grade in my school grading system. Did this set everyone on fire? Oh you bet!
Then I had the class divided into confused admirers and people who were smart enough to come ask me how I did it. Then the confused admirers started to tell everyone how I had no social life. They would invite me for parties every night and I would turn them down every time. On a normal day, I am not even a party buddy. If I did one welcome one for the semester and one at the end, I was more than satisfied. Do I look like the type that would want to go out every Friday night? I didn't need to please anyone, so I kept to what I was comfortable with.
They would look for anything to use against me. They said I was leading a lifestyle that shouldn't be recommended for any student and anyone trying to compete with that was jeopardizing their health. They went as far as inciting some of the teachers against me and said that I was cheating. I would have those confused teachers check me over and over again to ensure I wasn't cheating during exams. Rather distracting and condescending sometimes. I don't blame them, what would you do if you were them?
I still kept my cool and knew I didn't need to change any part of my strategy. Well, according to most people, it wasn't convenient but I was ok with it. One of my classmates started being really close and would watch me sit for several hours straight reading, and went and told everyone I really was a psycho. What's my business? The next semester came, I swept all the exemptions again.
They knew I meant business. Fast forward to the beginning of the 3rd year, I had more people wanting to play my team. No matter how many teachers tried to act like stumbling blocks, I was always at the very top of my game and somehow my colleagues understood my strategy was it. You know what they say, if you can't beat them? I can say categorically that even before the end of my first year's first semester, they knew better than to mistake my quietness for foolishness; it just took them so long to understand exactly how to react to that fact.
By the 3rd year, most of the unnecessary parties had been halted. Almost everyone understood they had to be bookworms somehow. If they were waiting to protest to the teachers to lower the standards, I wasn't and they understood they had to step up their games.
No matter what happened, I was already steadily on a very high GPA and by the time they understood to buckle up and get on a competition with me, I was far ahead. Remember the teacher I told you about in this post? He told me it would be so unheard of for a black person to top the class filled with white people. I told him I wasn't trying to top the class. I just wanted very good grades because I was looking at going out with nothing less than a first class. I told him he should help anyone he considered worthy to be the best, even if it was a .01 difference and make the best student, as long as I had my highly coveted first class, I was okay.
The fact was I knew what I wanted and I kept at it. No one really understood my struggles and how I wanted to get good grades so badly.
Summary: Know what you want and even if it is not what everyone is going for, don't be afraid to take on the lonely paths.
"The person who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The person who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever seen before" --- Albert Einstein
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