Room 209… To my girls Casey and Alyssa, 209 is a great place to stay! I have a nice locker/closet, bed, table and desk. There is also a small bookshelf by the head of the bed. I was able to bring a few things from home to decorate with—and to be honest, it does feel like home. As USIU would say, it’s our home away from home. The dorm buildings, or hostels, are nice and comparable to those at LVC. Of the 5000+ students enrolled here, only 256 live on campus. The Old Block and the New Block make up such living spaces. There are 2 RA’s in each building, a male and a female, for a total of 4. Within the hostels, there are representatives that work to provide entertainment and activities for the residents and those on campus; the reps and the RA’s work together to make campus life active and alive.
Each building has a reception desk where residents drop their keys on the way out. The guard or RA keeps the keys in personalized mail slots to ensure residents do not lose them and have to purchase a replacement. Replacement Keys cost 3,000ksh, or $35.00. Guests, defined as another USIU resident, are allowed to visit and must check in with the reception. Guests are not allowed between the hours of 11pm and 8am. Quiet hours are from 10pm-10am, but just like at LVC, there is 24 hour considerations. Non-USIU members, or visitors, are not allowed to spend nights in the hostels and residents are not allowed to spend the night in another resident’s room, regardless of the day. USIU is also a drug and alcohol free campus. Smoking is also prohibited, unless done in the designated smoking area.
Courses run Monday thru Saturday and each class meets for about 5 hours per week. Any particular course would meet Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday. Weekend courses meet Friday or Saturday. Personally, my schedule is as follows:
There are 3 schools of study within USIU in which all the majors and minors would fall under: The Chandaria School of Business, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and the School of Science and Technology. The classrooms are designed for 2 in a small building. For instance, on the academic block, small buildings labeled AB, CD, and EF… and so on. Two of my courses are in C and one is in A. I think the classrooms run from A-M. The specific schools also have some classrooms within them in addition to Profs offices. The windows are usually open and it is almost like you are outside while still in the classroom, which is fun.
The library is probably the newest building. If you go to the USIU website, that is the big, modern building that you will see. The bookshelves are not full, but the facility is very nice. They have a whole multimedia center for internet research, web access, OPAC information, and research assistance. One thing that is very different from LVC is that the security at USIU provides on campus monitoring. For example, when you enter the library, you show the uniformed officers your ID card. When leaving, after checking out your books, the officers search your bag and the books. It is a process that was surprising at first, but has now become part of the usual routine. Officers also patrol the library. The campus is gated, and so in order for anyone to enter, they must pass initial security. Officers use metal detectors and other means of detections to check under vehicles before they are granted access to enter. We have to carry our ID with us wherever we go. The officers are very friendly and helpful, but they do make you aware it is important to keep personal safety in mind.
USIU is located about 20-30 minutes from the capital city of Nairobi. People in the city can be dangerous and as international students, not familiar with certain characters, were advised even to not shake hands with those who look shady because they could be carrying drugs. Personally, I feel safe and have been comfortable with the little travelling I have done. But it’s always good to be aware of your surroundings. The university provides transportation to the West Lands, a popular hangout and living space for most USIU students, for free on Sunday’s and for a commuting fee during the week. A campus van also provides transport to the matatu/ bus pick-ups for 15ksh or 0.17th of a penny. A matatu is a 14-passenger van that usually holds around 15-20 people—It is the main public transport service. As people get dropped off, more get picked up, so sometimes it can take a while to reach your final destination. Some are safer than others, and some will try to charge more depending on how native to Kenya a person looks.
As mentioned, the West Lands are a popular place for people to hang out. There are shopping malls, food courts and restaurants, movie theaters, clubs and so much more. I will be able to share more about this later.
So far, campus life has been fun and a great thing to navigate. The first week of classes has begun and I am so excited for what the semester holds. I have already met so many amazing people! Good friends are hard to come by, but God has definitely provided for me some wonderful friends here at USIU.