10 things I wish I knew before starting University in England as a Kenyan

Hey guys so I’m finally done with second year whoop whoop! I thought I’d share some tips with all the Kenyans who are interested in joining University in the UK.

1. English weather is crap! In Nairobi we take the warmth and sun for granted, here the best you will probably get is two weeks of summer. The wind does not make the situation any better.

2.Instead of trying to be so western embrace your Kenyan identity (whatever that may mean to you). Your identity will be questioned at Uni . This is because you will be exposed to other people who still hold on tight to their culture. It will make you wish you learned your mother tongue or even at the most just polished your Swahili.

“So, here you are too foreign for home too foriegn for here. Never enough for both. ” Diaspora Blues – Ijeoma Umebinyuo 

3. You need a support system consisting of friends and family mainly friends there with you. Pursuing a law degree is hard and I truly believe that success is only possible when people support each other together.You cannot do it alone no matter how smart you think you are, you need other people to help you. Don’t play yourself by isolating yourself, keep people close to you!

4. You will need to take out sometime to care for your mental. Chances are high that some times you will feel crappy. In such instances you need an outlet , whether it involves ranting to your mum on the phone, crying in the shower or taking a trip to the beach or the cinema. Do it! Then snap out of it, you cannot drown in your sorrows. However I am aware Depression is a real thing ,  therefore if you feel like you cannot overcome the emotions, speak to someone. Ask for help.

5. The food is just not the same , sorry mum for taking advantage of Kuku kienyenji and fried fish whilst at home. The chicken here just doesn’t taste the same but no worries your body will adjust to it. In fact some nights your body will learn to have sleep for dinner.

6. Work if you can, take advantage of the opportunity. Whether or not it is to raise extra pocket-money , to travel or even to invest. You will have a lot of free time , if you can work go for it. It doesn’t not make you less cool ! Also class status is real but do not allow it to consume you.

7. Interact with people from different cultures, at the end of the day if all you wanted was to hang around Kenyans you should have stayed in Nairobi and gone to USIU ( No offence). Some of my closest friends are from different parts of the globe. Do not isolate yourself to just Kenyans but also do not isolate yourself from them. Trust me on your lowest days they will be the ones to uplift you.

8. Do not dare to convert money. Once in England think of your currency as a pound and not a shilling. My friend if you continue to convert the price of milk and bread at Sainsbury’s you will go hungry.

9. Racism is a thing, it is not as open as it is in America but it’s underlying it exists in institutions. You may leave in the most conservative area with one of the highest ageing populations (top county to vote leave ) but that’s not the point. You need to have thick skin you will also meet amazing people who will make the experience all the worth it.

10. Keep your love life, income and next move private (this doesn’t just apply to international students) especially since the Kenyan circle here is small! You do not need to have everyone involved in your business, trust me! Remember that  moments and movements still happen even though we don’t post them on the gram.

Until next time, Tschüss!


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