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Chelsea Rachel Atieno – Time is at a premium


“Mi nombre es Rachel y se pronuncia como “ere” “a” “ce” “ahsh” “uh” “ell” y estoy esperando a graduarme en Estudios Internacionales. Uy, he escrito mal mi nombre. Lo siento.” Allow me to re-introduce myself.  “Bonjour, mon nom est Rachel prononcé comme “er” “ah” “seh” “hache” “e” “ele”… … Attends, attends ! J’ai mal prononcé mon nom. Désolé, madame.”

In how many languages can you greet and introduce yourself to people? If you speak at least more than one language besides your mother tongue, you are multi-lingual! Did you know that learning a language or two boosts your cognitive abilities? Scientists have proven that our brains carve out for each language its own space and once one switches to that language, it dominates.

I learnt Spanish as part of my 4-year course work-study in Strathmore University, while simultaneously doing French at Alliance Française. Learning them was not easy as sometimes I would get confused as they both have some similarities due to their shared origins. Pronouncing the letter r in either French or Spanish is something that many learners struggle with, but they say, practice makes perfect and I can proudly say that I got the hang of it and I am fluent in both languages. Benefits of learning a new language go far beyond grasping how to effectively communicate and meet new people. It opened new doors for me to understand a culture and its heritage, and it also brought me a new perspective on life.

Within the boundaries of Strathmore…

The life of a Stratizen is filled with conflicting priorities — there is the pressure of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) in enjoying and having fun with friends, as they say you only live once. Nobody talks about how stressful it is pulling together a dissertation project or thesis. Phew! That in itself was the climax of my studies.

Apart from the continuous cycle of learning, there was so much more to it than just sitting on “Strathmore desks” for a two, or probably a three-hour class. It is 12.11pm Friday afternoon. Counting down minutes to mark the end of the week’s classes, eagerly waiting for the lecturer to finish class so that I can engage and enjoy the rest of the afternoon with my friends. All of a sudden, time is moving slowly. 12.15pm, the lecturer is still explaining “the relevance of the concepts security and insecurity dilemma in international security.”  I needed to be on my way to have lunch before I attended the weekly KMUN debate sessions in preparation for the 19th Session Conference for the better part of my afternoon. Staring at the clock, praying and hoping the lecturer would be done in the next two minutes. 12.20pm. I am still seated in this classroom, looking out of the window and the classroom next to us are already leaving class. Now I am irritated, but the lecturer is finishing up on the last point… I begin packing my bags with the hope that, this would signal the lecturer to end the class. I read somewhere that our brain controls the spread of time. In our brains, we want to move from point C to Z stat! But when we are running late, we are not in control of time and the rush of hormones causes the brain to notice every single activity that is inconveniencing you.

I do not know about you, but extracurricular activities (clubs) kept me sane. I enjoyed them. I was a member of the Kenya Model United Nations (KMUN) and Toastmasters, which were learning and practical grounds for me as I was pursuing a course in relation to those fields. My public oratory speaking skills improved. I am now confident to stand in front of audiences and give a powerful speech! I look back and see how far I have come and how much I have grown; I am impressed by those strides. I would recommend you to join as many clubs as possible. They teach one a lot and prepare you for the outside world.

Managing your time… and yourself. Time is at a premium

Having busy schedules, juggling extracurricular activities and my interest while studying taught me discipline and time management. This explains why I expected the class to end on time, and not five or so minutes after. Managing my time brought about being disciplined. We have all struggled with procrastination and laziness, but I am always reminded of this quote “Do not put off for tomorrow what can be done today” Today has its own challenges, so does tomorrow. Do it while you can.

Practicing self-discipline meant knowing what I needed to do at any given moment. Discipline comes into play when deciding in advance that you are going to give your undivided attention to a single task, and complete it. Focus! Do whatever it requires to reduce distractions that would prevent you from accomplishing that task. Do you know it would take you twice as long to get back into rhythm after getting distracted? Just as horses are fitted with blinders to prevent them from being distracted, put on your own blinders and focus on what needs to be done.

Have your goals at your fingertips. Be intentional about them. When you are clear about what you want to do, how you want to do it, and when you are going to do it, nothing will stop you from securing that bag. Allan Lakein in his book “How to get control of your time and your life” said that “time equates to life. Therefore, waste your time and waste your life, or master your time and master your life.” It is a choice you have to make.


Chelsea Rachel Atieno graduated with a first class honours Bachelor of Arts in International Studies degree and was awarded the Academic Achievement Award for the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.


This article was written by Jemmy Kamau. 


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