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Firecracker Toyeen: My Journey to the Amrica (3)



My Journey to the Amrica is a 4-part story. If you missed the previous stories, read them here and here.  


You know all those flaws in my application process that I pointed out earlier – low GRE math scores, weak SOPs, and letters of recommendation? I only became aware of them weeks after I had received the admission rejections. In my mind, my applications were strong enough to get me admitted into my safety school at least. Like they say, hindsight is 20/20.

After the elas I received, there was only one person I blamed for my failure to getting admitted into any graduate program: God. I know you were thinking it’d be village people. They were innocent this time around. I had a weird relationship with God at the time; if good things happened to me, I’d thank him, if bad things happened to me or I didn’t get what I prayed for, I’d blame him. So this time around, I blamed him. After all, he knew how badly I needed to school in the US and was aware that I’d told the world I was japaaing to America. As powerful as he is, it would have cost him absolutely nothing to get me accepted into one of the schools. 

You needed to attend church on Sundays at my house if you didn’t want to answer certain questions from my parents, so I had to go to church even though I was keeping malice with God. For the next 3 Sundays, post-rejection, when I saw people dancing in church, I would be thinking, “Why are these ones dancing to a wicked God that’ll end up disappointing them?” I can’t remember what made me stop thinking in that foolish manner, but it was over 3 weeks post-rejection that I decided to have an honest conversation with myself and sincerely evaluate my application. 

I went back and read all my SOPs and saw they weren’t compelling. I read the letters of recommendation that had been written for me and compared them with samples I saw online and agreed they were subpar. I patiently read the admission FAQs to see the factors that were considered when evaluating applications and saw that perfect GRE math scores and previous research experience were desired requirements. That was when I identified all my flaws. By this time, my shoulders had dropped significantly from their previous high position and I had become humble. My morale was also very low and I concluded that an MSc from the US probably wasn’t in the cards for me. 

I had accepted my fate about not going to school, but it was very painful for me to find out that some of my classmates who, unlike me, hadn’t announced their plans to travel to the world, had been admitted to graduate programs in the US. There were 2 of my classmates’s admissions that pained me the most. The first was by a guy who was going to my dream school to study my desired course. The second was by a classmate who had expressed his fears to me about the US denying Nigerians admission and study visas because of the Nigerian guy who was arrested for attempted suicide bombing. I had confidently dismissed his fears saying the attempted suicide bombing would not affect our admissions and visas. Yet he was the one traveling and I, sister confidence, was the one staying behind.

As if that wasn’t enough, I had to keep explaining to all the people I’d bragged to about traveling that I was denied admission and would be remaining in Nigeria. I also had to be explaining why I refused to consider going to the UK since the US didn’t work out. As far as I was concerned, the UK was not the same as the US, and if I couldn’t make it to the US, then I wasn’t going to get a masters. Anyway, I needed to get a job and eventually got one as an Information Security Analyst, 6 months post-NYSC. I loved my colleagues, but I wasn’t a fan of the company’s management because they had reneged on some of the promises they made me when I accepted their job offer, and I also found out a few colleagues had the same experience. 

I also had a work colleague who was so passionate about the work and the company, and seeing how much his drive and attitude contrasted with mine every day made me feel like, perhaps, I was on the wrong job. While waiting for my friend to pick me after work, 1 year 3 months after I had resumed, I watched that Steve Jobs viral commencement address to Stanford graduates where he said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” I cried and cried after watching it because I knew I didn’t love what I did, so it meant I couldn’t do great work. There and then, I decided I was going to resign without discussing it with anyone first. I can be quite impulsive when making even serious decisions.

I emailed my resignation letter with my 2-weeks notice to my boss and went home. The following day, he called me into his office to ask why I was resigning and wanted to know if I’d gotten a better paying job, or needed a raise. But I replied in the negative to both questions and said I just didn’t think the role was a good fit for me. Of course, my parents were upset when I told them I had resigned (I didn’t say it was Steve Jobs that made me resign oo), and just explained to them that I didn’t think consulting was for me and I wanted to go back to my telecoms. I assumed it wouldn’t be difficult to get a job with a telco, but mehn, I was wrong. My dad had connection at one of the major telcos and I was invited for an interview with them.  

On 3 different occasions, other candidates and I were kept waiting for several hours only to be told after the wait that the person who was supposed to interview us was not available and asked to go back home. We were told that an email would be sent to us informing us of the new date when the interview would hold. Honestly, my memory is telling me this happened 5 times not 3 times. 

Since I wasn’t making any headway with my search for a job with a telco, and the only lead I had were baba nla time wasters, and there was no guarantee they’d employ me anyway, I decided it was time to consider re-applying to the US again. But I had learned my lesson and this time around. I wasn’t going to share my plans with anyone until I not only got admitted, but also secured my visa, just in case history planned on repeating itself and I failed to get admitted yet again.

To be continued…

Oluwatoyin Alawode is a believer - it’s the essence of who she is. She writes insightful, thought-provoking, educative, and entertaining pieces under the moniker Firecracker Toyeen. she runs a blog and she is also a freelance writer at She has a bachelor’s degree in Electrical/Electronics from UNILAG and a master’s degree in Telecommunications Engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park. She has gone through a lot of career transitions from a Transmission Engineer to an Information security consultant, a Software Test Engineer, back to an Information security consultant and she now writes full-time. She is a technology lover and she's working on a project that merges her love for writing and technology. She's an advocate of mental health having recovered from a 2-year depression, and a health and fitness enthusiast on a journey to a 62 kg weight goal. She writes about everything she loves, values, and enjoys including; her faith, story-telling, mental health, health and fitness, her loved ones, technology, fashion, worship music, etc. She can be reached at [email protected]

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