Every time I write about first impressions, I remember a story that my mum loves to narrate. Though she has said it too many times, every time she narrates it again, it sounds fresh and very hilarious, especially if said in my mother tongue. I will paraphrase it 😅😅😅
Long time ago, a young girl went to visit one of her aunties at a far distance, unannounced. When she got there, she found the family had prepared a meal and it was ready to be served 😋😋. She joined in. After prayers, the hotpots were opened and the rest of the members served to their fill. She struggled serving herself. Then, her aunt served her. Seeing that everyone else was really enjoying the meal, she put up a brave face and ate. Of course she didn’t eat as much 😒😒. Others served and made a second serving. She was disturbed. Her aunt noticing her discomfort, asked if there was a problem.
She responded. “It’s not about you, it’s about me. You see, in our house, we have never cooked flies 🙈🙈 I didn’t know they could be served as stew.” Her aunt was concerned that this secret will eventually go out, so she went out of her way the next four days, to really impress her niece. She served chicken 🐓 , beef, 🐟 , omena stew and the likes. After every meal, she will ask whether she liked the food and what will her story be when goes back home. Her answer was consistent.
“When I get home, I will tell my parents, aunt cooked really well. She made chicken, fish, omena, beef stew (mostly likely spiced with Royco 🤓), and the food was really delicious 😋 . But, I will also them that on the first day, I ate flies 🤣🤣🤣🤣. The aunt really got bothered. She cooked everything else in a bid to erase the first impression but it was all wasted energies. The memory registered it and it was definitely going to be said over and over again. The moral of this story is, “First impressions matter and no matter how well you try to camouflage any impressions, human mind, is wired to vividly remember first impressions.” So with that understanding, allow me to share my first observations about my new home, Cardiff 🌃 .
🤭🤭 I haven’t experienced such an erratic and full- of- mood swings weather in my entire life as it has been the last three weeks. You see, they tell you it rains all the time in Cardiff. That’s true. What they don’t tell you is, you will experience four seasons in a day. You wake up in spring, before long, you are in summer, in another hour it feels like you are in winter and in another hour, you are in autumn. The point is, you cannot plan anything with surety. The number of times I got rained on 😥😥 I stopped counting. I left the house when it was really sunny. I got to the shopping mall. Thirty minutes later, it was raining cats and dogs. In Kenya, we know when it is about to rain. We can smell the rain, kuna joto ya mvua! like seriously. Never mind I have no clue how rain smells 🤫🤫. But I hear phrases like “Today, it is going to rain, I can smell it” Hahahhahah! There are other signs that are obvious to me, like the dark clouds followed by thunder and lightning. The ☔️ here, rains when it feels like. It comes unannounced. It doesn’t care whether you have an umbrella or not. You get to the next shop that you see and buy an umbrella. You spend about 4 pounds (approximately Ksh.600) and in the next four minutes, the umbrella is spoilt. So you look for the next trash bin and throw it away. By this time, the rain has stopped. Lesson learnt- Never leave your house without checking out the weather forecast and compare it with two different apps. Here, life is about Apps. I have downloaded 10 already. All of them are essential to my daily survival here. Invest in a hooded rain coat. It is practical and such a life saver. Gold!
2. Who lives in Cardiff?
Here, I am talking about the general populace and my observation around the same. By now, you know I reside off campus. About fifteen minutes from Cardiff University, main building. So the people I see, I am informed that majority are students because Cardiff has one of the largest population of students in the United Kingdom. The city is always packed. Day in, day out. I am told it only looks like this when schools are on session, otherwise, Cardiff is such a ghost city when campus is on recess. I notice that there are all types of nationalities represented. You see, I am a tribeless Kenya. I really don’t care about anyone’s tribe, to me, “a person’s a person no matter the tribe” (My version of Kenya’s Wambui Collymore’s phrase, originally from Dr. Seuss). My human rights background, teaches me to see everyone as human first, then stop right there. For the purpose of this blog, I can only see black and white. Those are the only colours I notice. I can therefore, say, there are as many blacks as there are white people. It is truly a mixed racial city and I love it. I walk around saying to myself, “Black is beautiful, just like white and we are all human, so let’s enjoy our differences but more so, celebrate our similarities 👊🏾👊🏾👊🏾.
3. Class Demographics
How many are you in class? Who are your classmates? It’s a question I get asked all the time. In my class, I guess we are 95 to 110 thereabout, and 80% of the class is comprised of students from Asia. To me, they are all Chinese. The thing is, I struggle to differentiate between Chinese, Japanese or even Indians 🙈🙈. So it is safe to say……Chinese and others 🤣🤣! That said, I guess we are seven Africans; two Kenyans, one Ugandan, two Nigerians, one Rwandese and a Mauritian. By the end of the year, I would have made a lot of Chinese friends and probably get a Chinese name. The big question is whether I will be able to pronounce it in the first place. I tend to forget their names regardless of how many times they introduce themselves 😟😟. All my lecturers are white, so far, I like them. This means I have every reason to excel in my studies because the level of my performance is always directly proportional to how well I like my lecturers.
4.Big city and its charms
There are really big malls and shopping arcades around. This means Cardiff City is definitely very touristic. Cardiff claims to be the city with high number of castles on the planet. Other attractions include Cardiff Bay, Wales Millennium Centre, the Cardiff National Museum among others. At any given moment, you can easily spot tourists visiting the city. You know tourists when you see them. They stand in the middle of the city centres and take 🤳 . They get really fascinated and impressed by things that locals don’t bother about. Have you seen tourists taking photos by the ‘elephant tusks’ in Mombasa? As locals, you look at them and wonder why anyone would want to pose with them for a selfie 🤭. But they do. And so do we, anytime we are in new places. Something like the smart connectivity at Mc Donald’s is a big fascination for me. You mean I don’t need to have a charger to charge my phone? All I need is to place my phone on the designated area on the table and it charges? Huh? How nice? Now, my problem with the big malls, it’s the sales they have all the time. Who doesn’t want a nice pair of shoe at 60% off? I just need a prescription of how NOT to see shoes as I walk to my class. I need a prescription of how to successfully leave my class and head home without accepting an offer to go for window shopping at TK Maxx then later leave the store with a bag in each hand. I am looking forward to your suggestions. You see, it will be pointless for you and I, if I came back home broke after one year abroad. Help me save myself from these small addictions, I need to be controlled 😰😰.
My housemates and I are truly bothered by the amount of dirt lying all over the place especially in most parts of the student accommodation, Cathays being the notorious street 🤦🏼♀️🤦🏼♀️. Really, I imagine this city by now would have found a better way or a system of trash collection. Walk around the night or the morning before trash gets collected and weuh 🙆🏻♀️🙆🏻♀️. It’s really a disgusting site. I think I have found a perfect problem statement for my course work. In the process of finding out if this is my problem or a common problem, I realise other people have also written about it. I am consoled that I am not alone. Clean environments make me happy. I am a little perturbed, and I don’t subscribe to an “accept and move on” kind of attitude, I will therefore, engage the locals to get their thoughts on the same. Kigali in Rwanda claims the title as the cleanest city in the Africa, I wonder how they do it 💁🏼♀️
I will keep exploring and sharing my impressions in the subsequent blog posts. “Have you found a church? My mum asks all the time.” Yes I have 🤓. I will write about it in my monthly series of my impressions about Cardiff City and its environs. I am curious about their car parking system as well. I will do some research then write about it.
Chevening Scholarship applications for 2020/2021 close on the 5th November. Are you an applicant? By now, you should have your essays ready. Next Monday, I will share with you my #MyCheveningJourney while attempting to give you tips on how to answer those critical essay questions. Let’s compare notes then.
N:B Every time I publish my articles, the word “by” disappears from my blog posts. Please bear with me when you find it missing in a sentence. I am trying to sort it out. Thank you.
#NoHumanIsLimited #MyCheveningJourney #IAmChevening
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