We live wildly different lives in university.

Sometimes I’m speed walking to lectures, trying not to break into a run because there are nice girls on the road. At the same time, the lecturer won’t let me in if I’m ten minutes late.

I’m furiously debating this in my head (in the blistering heat, I might add), when someone glides casually by in a Jaguar.

A student. In a Jaguar.

So yeah, we’re not the same. Nevertheless, there is one thing we – all university students – can (mostly) agree on; university is stressful. The stress is different for everyone, of course.

My roommate is forever finding ways to get money to buy fuel so he can drive his girl around and the guy who sits behind me in class has to sleep at home about 50 kilometres away from campus because he can’t afford any of the hostel fees. I personally can’t tell which is sadder of these two; lacking brains or lacking money.

Me, I have middle income parents and I’m doing a fee paying course which costs approximately GHc 13,000 a year. Yes. GHc 13,000. A car’s worth of money. (One of those tiny KIA cars, but still.) And as if that’s not bad enough, the course in question is PharmD, where I’m plagued with endless lab manuals and nine hours of lectures daily. I’m very well acquainted with stress.

As you may have guessed, stress is the main theme here.

So, did this stress start during the third week of lectures, like everyone else’s? No, no. Mine started almost 2 months before, when I spent everyday in front of the PC waiting for my name to appear on the list of admitted students. My performance in the WASSCE had been bad. Not appalling, but definitely not up to pharmacy standards, so my father had sacrificed an early pension and included the fee paying option in my application. (There are very few guilt trips more effective than your father saying “I extended my working time by 5 years so you could pay for school,” I tell you. How won’t you learn?) But even with fee-paying, admission was dicey. So I sat in front of the computer at home everyday, buying credit to check. That I knew what a difficult course pharmacy was and I still badly wanted it, might give you the idea that I’m a hardworking serious person just not blessed with the needed intelligence. It’s not true. Somewhere in JHS 2, a classmate whose father was a pharmacist described the job to me and made it seem like the kind of job I needed; sedentary, inappropriate amounts of money, no fixed salary. Ever since then it had been sort of a default option for me.

It took a while (7 days), but my name eventually showed up. One hundred and 54th. I remember this because there were only 155 names on the list, and this was the finalized list. Amazingly, my class size now proudly stands upwards of 260 students. Over a hundred students appeared in the class, but they were not on the list. Is God not a wonderful God?

Anyway, fast forward a month (and violent haggling with my mum for money) later, I was on campus. KNUST campus! The science-ey university. All we’d heard in SHS about Legon was half naked girls and endless parties, and almost zero learning. KNUST was for serious students, and UCC was a prison camp where they forced you to write exams at 6 in the morning.

Now being the rational person I assume you are, you’re probably thinking, “Well Legon sounds swell, guy.” And I agree hundred percent, but doctorate Pharmacy was only done in tech. There was a new pharmacy school in Legon, which my dad (and I, more importantly) wanted me to go to, but he saw the school fees and said “Ei Otu let’s go and make enquiries at the place.” which was code for “Let’s go and see if the fees are less for children of civil servants.” We arrived at the place and aye. We had to double check. The entire structure was the size of a department. My dad didn’t even brake, he just turned around. “And I should go and pay 4000. Because I’m a fool. Otu, you’re going to Tech! Check the application deadline!” And there my dream of the good life died. It’s just as well. From what I heard, pharmacy is hell everywhere.