A Writer’s Safe Space at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka

A Writer’s Safe Space at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka

Home is and will continue to be important in the lives of people. The definition of home has always varied. Primarily, it is where you live with people you call family, who share the same lineage and blood as you. The meaning of the term family is quite simple; it is people you love and who loves you in return. As humans, we are never entirely confined in a place; we move, travel and seek. It is through this journey that we make for ourselves home with people whom we aren’t necessarily related to by blood, but by something ordinary and just as deep. Being a creative, finding a community is just as important especially if you are new to a place. To find like minds open to conversation and learning can be a bliss. And this is what the students at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka have seen for themselves.

The Writers Community, TWC as it is popularly called started in 2008 and it is an enriching community for writers who wish to learn, be in conversations they would otherwise not have with their fellow students, and mostly, exist as what they are, creatives. The community holds its meeting every Friday, where the Custodian (President), who runs for a session, spearheads the conference. It usually opens with pleasantries, discussions on a particular topic from a previous meeting, and the core of it all, submission of works by any member to be reviewed by everyone.

These honest reviews gear towards making a better writer out of everyone as discussions ensue, questions asked, and the learning wheel is left spinning. In moderating this, the Custodian shares copies of the workaround which will be read by the writer, and later criticized constructively by members who have opinions about the piece. In the acknowledgment that art and creativity are vast, there are no limitations to the kinds of work that can be submitted ranging from poetry, prose, essays, fiction, non-fiction, plays, art or whatever it is your mind comes up. Afterward, the best submissions are compiled and shared with everyone via the TWC boards located in the Faculty of Arts.

Apart from these weekly meetings, the community also organizes workshops where established writers come to teach and equip members. The guest for the last seminar was JK Anowe, a poet. For fun, the community holds its end of the year Discuss Night where members circle a bonfire, eat, drink, play games and of course, read more works. It also partners with other platforms within the school to create readings and performance night which are open to all students. The community is as essential as it is for every writer who wishes to grow and can serve as a solid foundation as it has for its ancestors like Otosirieze Obi-Young, Arizne Ifekandu, Benson David, Ebenezer Agu and many more.


Shade Mary-Ann Olaoye is a final year student of Mass Communication at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.  She is passionate about writing and engages with multiple campus organizations and local societies to reinforce and promote her love of growing into a creative.

Shade makes her debut as a blog intern for That Green Tea.

Follow me on IG: @shade_mary_ann_olaoye

 

McKenna & Hailey Take A Day

My days typically start between 8:30-9:30 (admittedly, depending on how tired I am) and I prepare for classes by making a quick bagel to go and dressing in something modest and comfortable for my classes. I like to keep my beauty routine relatively simple, typically consisting of applying some tinted moisturizer, mascara, and touching up my brows. My moisturizer is from Origins, my mascara is Roller Lash from Benefit, and I combine Anastasia Beverly Hills Dip Brow and Benefit’s Gimme Brow.

A typical day in my life starts around 7:30. I force myself to get out of my incredibly comfortable bed and get ready for the day. I eat some breakfast, usually Greek yogurt, and drink some coffee while I do my morning devotional and read The Skimm. Then I wash my face and get dressed for the day.

My classes begin with my Statistics for Behavioral Science class, which lasts for an hour and fifteen minutes and then to my Ethics in Media Studies class which is a quick hustle across campus to make it in time for another hour and fifteen-minute lecture. My Ethics in Media Studies class is one of my favorites, as it presents various Ethical Dilemma in journalism, advertising, and broadcasting and we have open forum discussions on various topics with our very diverse class, and it makes for a very thought-provoking discussion.

My first class of the day is for my Honors upper-level classes—the World in the News. It’s a discussion-based class where we discuss different articles we found from around the world. Each week is a different theme; this week, the item is women. Then I have an hour and a half break before my class. I stay on campus and eat lunch that I packed, or I go to a restaurant near campus. I might work on homework, or I might watch The Bachelor.

After I get back to my garage and car, I stopped by HyVee to pick up a few items to hold me over through the weekend. Today I decided to make some steak and rice, with some extra to have for lunch tomorrow. After I make myself a quick meal, I sit down and begin my homework and make a list of what I need to get done through the night.

My biggest lull of the night is where I sit and finish and sort through multiple readings and videos for my Introduction to Art Theory and Criticism and push through essays while watching TV. This class I take to gain credit towards my Fashion Merchandising Minor, and I’ve very much enjoyed discovering new artists I’ve never heard of before.

Then at 12:30 I have a class for my writing minor called Digital Textual Problems, where we consider how we can use computational tools to understand more about literature. It’s one of those classes that you have no idea what you’re signing up for, but it’s been a very thought-provoking class.

Right after my writing class, I have Research, which is part of my Strategic Communication major. It’s learning all about how to research my major. The exact opposite of the kind of Strat Comm I want to do—I want to be creative—but we’re working on a semester-long oral history project, which is writing-based research, so I can’t complain.

Right after Research, I head to my car and drive to work. I work as a teacher and office manager at a local dance studio. Tuesdays, I’m at the desk, so I help answer calls and emails, as well as process payments and answer any questions parents have. This time of year, I’m focused on helping my boss get ready for competitions and our spring recital.

           

After some tedious hours, I decided to stretch out and do a little yoga to combat the stiffness of sitting in front of my laptop for too long. This is what I try to do (try being the key word here) if I’m feeling unmotivated to go to the gym. I usually look up a 15-30 minute video on YouTube as a Yoga Membership in Lincoln isn’t really in my budget. It relaxes me and prepares me to get ready for bed and take on the next day.


I stick around the studio for an hour and eat dinner, which is either a wrap from Pak-A-Pocket, our neighbors next door, or I heat a frozen meal from Trader Joe’s. Then I help people sign in for our adult dance classes that we offer every Tuesday. I usually join the class for a good (free) workout, and then help my boss close up the studio. I’m out by 9:00.

Then I head home to work on any homework I have due for Thursday. Since I have three classes worth of homework, it can be a lot, and sometimes I push it back until Wednesday. Sometimes I have things to do for my sorority or a non-profit I’m involved in, but I try to be in bed between 10:00 and 11:00. I’ll watch an episode of Brooklyn 99 and then read a little bit—right now it’s Daring Greatly—before I head happily to bed. Then I get up the next day and do it again!


McKenna and Hailey have known each other since the flood and decided to share a glimpse of what a day in their lives looks like. One half in Nebraska, the other in Texas, reconnection comes in the most beautiful of ways.

This collaboration honors that friendship.

I am available for future collaborations in the areas of photography, content writing, and advertising/branding. Follow me on IG: mckennaarthur and Twitter: @mckennaarthur

The Duality of December

The Duality of December

December can be the most beautiful yet most begrudging time of the year for me. The sun is a rare sight, my skin is unbearably dry, and I am frantically trying to relearn an entire semester’s worth of information in a few days while simultaneously balancing work and a sprinkle of social life. In exchange, my mental well-being crumbles.

   My mental health is something that I strive to be open and honest about, and in December, my mental health dissipated. My routine of school, work, friends, more school, even more, work, and less time for me spun me into a spot where I was perpetually exhausted, uninterested in my interests, and refusing to face the realities of my poor mental care habits. After my exams were all said and done, I made an effort to pick up the pieces of my shattered creative habits.

For the first time in almost two months, I picked up a pen and had an open and honest discussion with myself regarding my seeming inability to do any creative work of any sort. My writing folder had multiple months-old separate files of two lackluster sentences of half-developed ideas. I hadn’t taken any photos I was proud of. I hadn’t even tried anything special with makeup. Nothing felt natural enough to pursue. My mantra when I start a new project is don’t push yourself to the point where you’re making stagnant, boring work to get it done. This concept draws a fine line between laziness versus blockage, and I began to realize that the bare trees, brown grass, and clouds along with some schoolwork I wasn’t passionate about were all contributing to this bout of stagnation.

With the stress of school removed and about three straight days of self-care (which included lots of face masks and many listens to Lorde’s Pure Heroine) the fog is beginning to clear, and my December has turned around and I set out on my first project in a long while, which for me was burning through gas to see those light displays that make your stomach flutter with cheer. You can’t exactly stop and smell the roses in winter, but you sure can stop and photograph some light displays.

Most wouldn’t consider Lincoln to be a city that could be defined as beautiful, but the effort put in by the residents indeed show out to spruce up and change the perspective on a town that seemingly never changes. It’s the little things that have sparked me to get back into a routine to create, and I couldn’t be more excited. Below are some of the places that made me feel that spark (too cheesy, wow), and while you can’t be there to experience them for yourself, I put my heart into trying to capture these. Enjoy.


Mckenna is a third-year student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the College of Journalism studying Advertising and Public Relations. She is currently interning for That Green Tea Blog.

All the images are original photos and the property of McKenna Arthur and should be used with permission. We will know if they aren’t. ( yes we will)

Follow Mckenna on Instagram (@mckennaarthur) or send an email to contact@thatgreentea.com for any collaborations.

5 Ways to Accomplish A Productive Summer

5 Ways to Accomplish A Productive Summer

 

Two things happen after Labor Day: Sales and Regrets. I say regrets because in a sane world with favorable variables, 100 days of summer just decided to get up and leave and you probably wasted it. But like I said, in a sane world. However, lucky for us, things and milestones don’t always get with the program.

PSA to the young people on a deadline and trying to exist. No one has high expectations that are unattainable, just high expectations that exist on a plane of their own. You can still accomplish a lot, but like any RPG on the market, you have to upgrade your character with the right skills AND magic to reach your goal.

Here are five ways you can accomplish a productive summer ( for future reference especially since we probably messed up in the last one)

Get an Internship

Depending on the lifestyle you’re willing to provide for your dog, you’re going to need experience and be ahead of the game. I had conversations with people who were nervous about life after graduation ( let me remind all and sundry that my ass is still in college, but my mind is on a yacht. Pay attention) and the same dilemma kept popping up: ” I’m not getting hired by these companies.” See now the trick to this is tenacity and showing up to career fairs. YES, THOSE ANNOYING EMAILS DURING COLLEGE HAVE A PURPOSE.

Google is your friend, so is your advisor, professor and the quiet person right next to you who might be what you need to move forward. Opportunities are aplenty you have to put it in your mind that you need this. Plus, getting paid is a huge incentive, at least for me. Avoid unpaid internship; this is a capitalist country, if you have something to sell (yourself, not in the negative sense), you should get paid for it but also gain the necessary experience.

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Take Photography and Run with it

The best thing to happen to the internet is Instagram. An even better present filters. But the icing on the cake should be the vivid pictures we get from the notorious wanderlust adventurers. It doesn’t take much. Point, shoot and edit. You may consider upping your game and invest in watching those free YouTube videos that offer tutorials on the magic of the likes of Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator to mention a few. I realized that factoring that a good camera can do wonders * cough* Canon *cough*, if you don’t have the finesse to make those travel feeds (or not), the lack of personal satisfaction is heart-wrenching.

 

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Continue reading “5 Ways to Accomplish A Productive Summer”

5 Things To Know Before Applying To College

5 Things To Know Before Applying To College

5 Things to know

 

*taps mic*

” Mic check, mic check. This is a special announcement to all the people who made the conscious decision to take the college route.”

 

If anyone had told me 10 years ago, I’d be writing a piece about getting into college I would have thrown a bottle…. of invaluable knowledge from this fountain of wisdom! Now for the most part, when I look back, I see how a lot of sidetracks could have been avoided however that’s a story for another day.

College is hard. Hard is relative. You have so many elements and expectations hitting on you because completing college means you’ve made it ( according to the educated class of humans). College is more than academics, it’s a stepping stone to discovering, building and transferring your growth towards a wider audience. College is not a privilege, it’s an opportunity that beckons to many, but few can respond to.

Here are 5 things to know before applying to college, locally and internationally.

 

Grades Matter

Depending on the who, what, when, where, how and most importantly, the WHY you would make the decision to get into college is quickly reflected on how well of precedence you’re setting. I went to a secondary school in Nigeria, and I still believe the process is the same when I tell you this ( especially if you’re going abroad) YOUR👏🏾GRADES👏🏾MATTER. Schools always want to recruit the cream of the crop. The chances of better financial packages are higher. But as we evolve as a civilization, holistic growth and achievements also count that are not always reflected on paper.

College is NOT High School

It isn’t. Let me explain. High school is a controlled environment that is structured to get you into the habit of following through with routines. It coaches you in time management which is going to make or break your ability to actually survive college. Yes, not all school systems are equal regarding available resources to ensure this is successful. However, if you had the opportunity to pass through a system that does enable you to be your best, know that when you get to college, no one is going to monitor your actions but instead will be available in the event you need some form of support. Take full advantage of it.

Campus Visits

Ever seen those campus marketing photos that shows happy college students sitting on a field of green without a care in the world? Issa scam. The internet is designed to give any institution the platform to put their best foot forward. Never believe hearsay about a particular college. This is a considerable investment. Not every school is meant to be on your radar. It is essential to schedule an in-person visit to get a feel for the type of environment you’re going to sacrifice a couple of years to ( that includes empty bank accounts, insomnia and lots of caffeine). Understand that there is no pressure in making an immediate decision. Take your time and see what the best feeling is.

Keep Family in the Loop

It might seem like the perfect opportunity to gain ‘freedom’ from your overprotective parents or guardians ( in some cases, depending on your background that might be what you need but I will talk about that in another blog post). But your family is your ride or die. Everyone who genuinely cares needs to be kept in the loop of your progress so that they can know how to lend their support as you go through this journey. It is not just about you. Your success can impact some other individual who wants to follow the same path, and a healthy relationship can make or break the strength to weather the storms ahead.

Be Prepared or Be Repaired

College is not for everybody (argue with your ancestors). It is a conscious and ongoing effort of self-determination and self-motivation. College is the sandbox that swallows you whole and then decides spits you out without warning. Is it a scary place? Of course, it is, that’s what I have been yapping about on the last 4 points. But the beauty of it is not to prove who’s the smartest or who has the most participation with campus organizations. College is the frontier to make mistakes and to unlearn what you thought life was about. You will meet a diverse community ( this is hoping you go to a college that actually has some diversity, some of them be lying). You will be presented with opportunities to make adult decisions and live with the consequences. Be prepared to grow. Be ready to learn about the world. Or be repaired by failing to understand all the wisdom I have generously given.

 


Fatyma Amadou is a college student, blogger and owns this blog.

Disclaimer: Not part of any college recruiting committee. All commentary is based on personal experience and reflection