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Firecracker Toyeen: A Brief History Into My Journey to the Amrica

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This story is quite long as I plan to start from the very beginning. For that reason, I’ll be breaking it into several parts. Here goes the first:

I decided I wanted to study Chemical Engineering when I was in SSS3 because Further Maths and Chemistry were my favorite subjects. However, my parents convinced me to study Electrical/Electronics Engineering instead because it was a much broader field, with a myriad of job opportunities. I was quite the stubborn goat who didn’t like to be told what to do. But on this occasion, I’ll forever be grateful I listened to them and changed my course of study.

Both my parents attended UNILAG. My elder sister was studying at UNILAG. So, naturally, I too was going to study at UNILAG. But some of my mum’s lecturer friends at UNILAG advised her to send me to the Amrica to study instead, because Nigeria did not have the facilities to properly teach Engineering courses. When my mum told me this, I refused and insisted I was going to go to UNILAG. Somebody say, Village people! When she told me she was going to pay for the TOEFL exam, I told her I wasn’t going to write the exam and her money would waste.

Why did I refuse to go? It was a very stupid reason, actually. All those high school movies I had watched about the new girl in school being bullied, not fitting in, and always being sad convinced me that was going to be my story. Obviously, I didn’t tell anyone this reason. I just vehemently refused to even consider schooling abroad.

However, UNILAG wasn’t what I expected it to be at all. My first semester was especially horrible. I hardly went to class, gained a lot of weight, and was bullied by my bunkmate and her friends. I spent a huge portion of my time crying. The only person I ever told this story to was a friend in my class during a 10-hour conversation we had in my 2nd semester (it’s not today I became an elejo wewe). I went back and told my parents that I was ready to school in the Amrica because UNILAG wasn’t working out, but my father said he had already paid diploma fees and I should finish up in UNILAG after which I’d go to Amrica for my masters. Sometimes I wish I fought this decision, but perhaps undergrad in the US wasn’t meant to be.

It was in my 400 level I decided I was going to travel to the US for my masters, and the reason for this again was a very foolish one. My dad had such high expectations of me that had rubbed off on me. He believed I would finish with a first class, but by 400 level, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. But I believed the university system, not I, was to blame for this.

I don’t know about other people, but I didn’t learn shingbai in my 5 years at UNILAG. Most of our elect/elect teachers were tyrants. Some failed to show up in class. One particular one would whisper while dictating notes, and you dared not interrupt him. The ones who showed up just came to fulfil all righteousness, and you were lucky if they gave notes. You couldn’t even ask questions in class.

I attended FGGC Shagamu and had competent teachers who cared there. Even when you had incompetent teachers, you had good, well-written textbooks to fall back on. We didn’t have the required reading material in my class in UNILAG. In fact, the lecturers never recommended any textbooks – I don’t know boya it was their personal desire to see us fail. Some sold poorly written handouts that made little sense. And when exams came, you would wonder where they got the questions from, as the exams most times bore no resemblance to what they taught in class.

I was quite the lone-ranger in school, so I didn’t find out until it was too late that most lecturers repeated the same exam questions year after year. So if you had access to past questions and were able to cram the solutions to them, you were most likely to pass. By then, I was already disillusioned with the system and offended they denied me my first class birthright. And so I was going to go do my masters in the Amrica, finish with a first-class, and prove to myself and the world that indeed I was first class material. I kid you not, this was the singular motive behind my wanting to do my masters in America. Foolishness was really in my heart.

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]