What I Didn't Understand At The University
A True Story
on Feb 14, 2019
A few years ago, there was a time I loved visiting my neighbour Mama Kuria, an extremely likeable lady who loves the Lord. Whenever I felt excited in the evening, I would dash to her home where she always gave me something to drink or eat.
One memorable evening, I found Mama Kuria had in her house another visitor by the name Mrs. Dismas, an attractive lady I hadn't met before but who knew my family. As Mama Kuria went about her business in the house, I fell into a conversation with Mrs. Dismas during which she told me someone in my family had been at Starehe Boys' Centre. And when she asked me who it was, I told her it was me and my immediate elder brother Paddy.
"Did you meet [Dr.] Griffin?" she asked as soon as she learnt I was once a Starehe boy.
"Yes!" I replied, "He died in 2005 when I was in Fourth Form."
Then we proceeded to talk about my university education. Being the honest young man that I am, I informed her that I dropped out of JKUAT where I had been admitted to pursue a BSc. degree in Electronics & Computer Engineering.
As soon as I informed her that I dropped out of JKUAT, she interjected, "Some youngsters when they join university, they get so many ideas that make them lose focus."
"I think that's what happened to me at JKUAT," I replied thoughtfully.
Actually, that's what happened to me when I matriculated at JKUAT in May 2007. I was a very ambitious young man back then. Just before joining the university, I had tried to start a company which didn't materialize after the prominent people I approached for capital failed to buy into the idea. I had also tried looking for jobs I could be doing part-time during my stint at JKUAT. (I succeeded in getting a piano-teaching job which I did over the weekend during my first-semester in the university).
And when I joined JKUAT, I started re-applying to top American colleges, a rigorous process that entails filling out forms, writing essays, getting recommendation letters and sitting for the SAT exams. A very ambitious young man I was.
That kind of ambition made me lose focus in my university studies. Little wonder that I scored mediocre grades in my first semester exams and then failed a subject called Material Science in my second semester.
But it was not only my lack of focus that made me drop out of JKUAT in 2009 but also my inability to understand the engineering course. Let me tell you about some of the concepts I didn't understand in the course.
First is the structure of the atom. In high school, we were taught a simplified pattern of the atom which I found easy to understand and relate to whatever else we were learning in Chemistry. But at JKUAT, we were taught a structure of the atom that turned out to be Greek to me. You can call me stupid if you like but I am telling you the truth.
Then there is this number called 'e' in engineering whose value is approximately 2.71828. That number is extensively used in the course. I tried to understand where it came from and why it is so important in engineering but the books I read didn't quench my curiosity. If only I had known the power of the internet back then! But then, I didn't own a laptop with which I could have reliable internet access.
And then there are these electrical circuit components called transistors. It is said that their invention revolutionized the hi-tech industry by making electronics gadgets smaller. Without transistors, computers would still be as big as university dorm rooms. Now, I tried to understand how transistors work and why they are so important. I even read a layman's book in the university library that explained the logic behind transistors by comparing electric current flowing through them with water flowing in pipes but I still couldn't get it.
Finally, there is the Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity. It is said that theory helped scientists to better understand the sub-atomic world. But for me, I just couldn't comprehend the theory. And when I turned to books in the university library, there seemed to be a conspiracy among the books' authors to prevent me from understanding the theory because they explained it using mathematical formulas I hadn't yet learnt.
That inability to understand engineering, coupled with my lack of focus by trying to accomplish other stuff, is what led me to drop out of JKUAT in 2009. And to tell you the truth, I don't regret having dropped out because I see no pride in having crammed my way through the course and end up being a mediocre Electronics & Computer Engineer.
From those experiences, I would advise youngsters about to join university to choose a course they have a natural aptitude for, and then focus on the course like a laser beam cutting through metal. Don't try to juggle many activities like I did when I was at JKUAT. That's all I am saying.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story of mine on what I didn't understand in engineering, you might also enjoy another story I wrote sometimes back on "True Learning". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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Not Giving Up
A True Story
on Feb 12, 2019
Hello my dear reader! How have you been? It has been awhile since I last posted a story in this blog of mine. I wish I could say it's because my laptop broke down or there was a power-failure in my home-area for the past two weeks but since I stopped lying and exaggerating stuff, let me be honest with you by admitting that I got a bit discouraged from posting stories in this blog after Google Adsense disabled my account without alerting me via email.
Well, I did try to appeal the decision by Google Adsense to disable my account but my pleas fell on deaf ears. And when I turned to a certain internet forum, I felt comforted when I learnt that there are other thousands of site owners whose Google Adsense accounts have also been disabled without being told why.
To tell you the truth, I didn't feel bitter at Google Adsense team for disabling my account because in the six months or so I ran its adverts on this blog, I didn't make decent money. It has now become clear to me that to make a liveable income from blogging, a blog needs to be attracting tens of thousands of visitors per day. Currently, my blog receives a paltry number of about 1000 visitors per month which I think is the reason Google Adsense disabled my account.
But I am yet to give up on this blogging venture because I find it fun. To help attract the tens of thousands of visitors required to earn a liveable income from blogging, I have planned to take to two important actions. Let me tell you about them.
First, I plan to produce quality songs and post them in the videos' section of this blog. For a long time, I have desired to compose songs with beautiful melodies and inspiring lyrics. Once I achieve that dream, and I believe with God's help I will, then netting thousands of blog visitors per day will become easy. People out there love music, don't they?
Secondly, I plan to be consistent in posting stories here. For as someone more famous than me observed: "Success does not come from what you do occasionally; it comes from what you do consistently."
Not only will I strive to blog consistently but also ensure my stories add value to readers like you. So be certain that in every story I will be posting here, you will either learn something new or feel inspired.
My role model in blogging consistency and quality is Maria Popova - author of Brain Pickings, a blog that attracts millions of visitors per month and which has been catalogued in the Library of Congress as a material of historical importance.
Maria Popova emails me every Sunday without fail about her week's most interesting blog articles. Even though unlike me she is an unbeliever, I have learnt a lot from her. Like I took to heart the advice she gave to the 2016 graduating class of University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School of Communication. She advised the class:
Develop an inner barometer of your own value. Resist page-views and likes and retweets and all those silly-sounding quantifications metrics that will be obsolete within the decade. Don't hang the stability of your soul on them. They can't tell you how much your work counts for and to whom. They can't tell you who you are and what you're worth. They are that demoralizing electric bike that makes you feel if only you could pedal faster - if only you could get more page-views and likes and retweets - you'd be worthier of your life.To summarize what I've told you, I plan to produce music and post stories here consistently in an effort to net thousands of blog visitors per day so that I can make a liveable income from blogging, my favourite pastime. I am not giving up for shizzle.
My dear reader, I urge you to also not give up in whatever you are striving to do. Troubles arrive in measures and if we stack them up real high, we'll convince ourselves we have no reason to try. But if we ignore the minor setbacks that pile up and trouble us, we will end up achieving our dreams. We can change our tomorrow if we seek our dream today. It matters that we just don't give up.