5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Deciding To Leave Kenya To Study Abroad
Moving to a new country for college is both exhilarating and scary. Exhilarating because of the myriads of opportunities for one to exploit, new places to explore and new friends to make. It can be scary because of how new everything is. You have no grasp of where anything is and the idea of leaving everything to google maps and, sometimes even google translate, is beyond horrifying.
Here is a list of things I knew before I left Kenya to study abroad.
1.Transitions are difficult.
You will move from getting a lot of help at home to ‘adulting’. You will probably experience culture shock. You will find your brain muddled by having to get used to a new currency. The food will be strange and like me, you will probably end up eating a lot of fast food, putting a dent in your finances. On the bright side, you will soon get used to it.
2.It does get lonely.
Since time in memorial Africans have romanticized the idea of studying abroad, often in a more developed country. However, though the universities are better, the fast food chain restaurants in abundance and the Instagrammable places are plenty, it gets lonely. At the end of the day, you will be on your bed thinking about your family. Sometimes you will cry. Soon you will always look forward to that once a week call with your family that leaves you on a cloud of euphoria.
3.Financial management is not just a topic in a business textbook.
During my first month of living in a different country, I blew through my money faster than you can say Western Union. I would like to say using a different currency was confusing but I just made bad decisions. As a foreign student you are probably on a stipend, receive a monthly amount to spend from your parents or you work to sustain your lifestyle. You have to learn how to balance your expenditure and prioritize on what to spend on. It takes a lot of time to learn, but with practice and the help of financial managing applications, you will soon get a hang of it.
4.You’ll feel like giving up so many times.
Living in a strange new place especially on a student budget, is daunting no matter where in the world you are. I, for one, would always find myself googling flights to Nairobi even before the first semester ended. On the bright side, after a while you get used to a place and make great mental connections with friends who are willing to help you through your difficult transition.
5.You will have to re-calibrate your criteria of what is deemed inappropriate.
When you move to a new country, you are bound to experience culture shock. Things deemed as taboo in your country may be the norm in other countries. And while it may be nerve wracking at first, you will have to shift your moral compass and normalize that which you are not used to. This does not mean you have to partake or indulge in the said acts. This just helps you interact with people without judging them for their actions.
6.Your race will matter.
Growing up in Kenya, I never thought about being African and black for that matter. Now that I live in a country with a minority black population, it is almost always on my mind. Sometimes, you that you will be stared at, asked uncomfortable questions and you will be referred to as ‘exotic’ by random people who will touch, poke and prod. While this is something you cannot prepare for beforehand, knowledge is power, right?
-by Capital Campus Contributor Garnet Achieng