9 Life Hacks From Boarding House That Helped Us Survive in Nigeria

1. How to bathe like a pro.

Whether it’s bathing in the cold, bathing with just a bowl of water or bathing with just five minutes left before the hostel gate is closed, boarding school has taught us to live life on the fast side. So you know that harmattan showers ain’t got nothing on you, you can have your bath and rush out the house if you ever find yourself running late, and if your landlord thinks he can suffer you by locking the well and hiding the key, he’s got another thing coming, a satchet or two of pure water will be just enough to do the job.

2. How to dress even when under duress.

When there’s only two seconds left on the clock and you have to put on your underwear, slip on your school uniform, wear your socks and your shoes, and maybe even toss on a beret, boarding school has taught us that speed and agility are qualities that don’t only belong to the cheetah. So that when you find yourself running late for work, there’s no fear of showing up in the office wearing bathroom slippers for shoes.

3. How to think on your feet.

When a senior student suddenly appears in front of you and is about to send you on an errand, you have a split second to think of an excuse or risk being the J-girl messenger of the day. The ability to come up with an elaborate excuse like this, “I’m sorry Senior, I have a drug in the sickbay that I have to take every 30 minutes in front of the nurses”, will save you in many future on-the-spot moments like when you have a presentation at work, or even trying to convince a lover that you didn’t do something you both know you did but which you would very much like to get off the hook for.

4. How to be resourceful with little in order to get much.

When it’s nearing the end of the term and provisions are scarce, the “soak and travel” method of drinking garri is one example of how boarding school taught us to be careful with little so that we can get much. And this is one skill that will definitely serve well at moments when the adulting life hits hard but the pride is too much to ask anyone for help.

5. How to eat quickly so no one can join you.

In the dinning hall, there’s barely any time to eat your food. You alternate between eating standing or walking, and there’s no time to chat or take occasionally sips of water, not to talk of even read a book. This is a very important skill for life, especially when dealing with those kinds of people who actually bring a spoon when you out of courtesy tell them, “come and eat”. Ain’t nobody got time for a ration-stealer, so you cut them short. Finish the food so they can’t find anything to eat on the plate.

6. How to drink water without ever having to put your lips to the mouth of the bottle.

It’s slightly tricky and it might take some time, but eventually every boarder gets the hang of it. Tilt your head back, lift the bottle, angle it parallel to the lips, open the mouth – stylishly, not too wide like an idiot – and then pour. The key is to bring the bottle to you not your lips to the bottle. There are several benefits of this skill, and all of them revolve around it being healthy. No more shared saliva, no fear of backwash, no risk of contracting mouth diseases, if ever a life skill was needed, it’s definitely this!

7. How to tell a story and tell it well.

Much of your time in boarding school, apart of the time spent in class, running errands for seniors or serving various punishments, is also usually spent engaging in spirited conversations with classmates. A lot of gist and stories gets passed round. This is typically when the myths of the various things haunting the hostel comes out, and the people who tell these tales do so in the most captivating and enthralling way. A necessary life skill when you have to make small talk at a dinner party or gathering of otherwise boring colleagues from work. You become the life of the party, and because of the exciting stories you tell, everyone will know your name, including your boss!

8. How to pinch, manage and save for the rainy – and sometimes harmattan – day.

When you have to find a way to manage with just one pair of uniforms or housewear after all the others have been stolen from the clothes line, washing and towel-drying it so you can have something to wear the next day, you develop the ability to manage and style your one good pair of work pants in such a way that even your boss will start to wonder where you get the time to go and shop.

9. How to use the toilet without using the toilet.

When it comes to using the toilet in boarding school, it’s all about the arch. Whether it’s with a traditional toilet, a pit latrine or just yourself, a piece of paper, and the side of JSS1 block, you have to be quick, precise and careful with the arch. This is so that you make no mistake by either catching a toilet disease or tossing your “package” the wrong way when you’re done. The key is to be able to do your business as quickly and discreetly as possible. And just like being able to drink water without putting your lips to the mouth of the bottle, this life skill will definitely save you, especially when you find yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere with a broken down car and a desire to relieve yourself, or when you get mobilized and sent to an NYSC orientation camp that has more bushes than it has toilets.

If you feel these life skills are the truth, here’s more boarding school truth for you:

What other life skills did boarding school teach you?