Keeping Up With The Cardiffians

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When I wrote my first blog post under Cardiff Chronicles, I introduced my housemates to you. For the next one year, they will appear on my blog posts quite often. 

“Patience, how is Daktari, Sidney and our Ugandan brother? You must keep on updating us about the Cardiffians. If you don’t, we will quickly make our judgment and say, the Cardiffians have fallen apart and have all moved out and are living separately.” Remarked one of my girlfriends in Kenya.

From Left; Sidney, Dr. Pamela, Patience and Ronald

The decision to become housemates was quite scary and full of anxiety. We almost signed our vows, sorry, a living agreement. For better for worse, for the next one year, we are joined at the hip. No “lefting”. 

In a bid to report on how we are coping with our lives in Cardiff, I crafted three questions and posed the same to all my housemates as follows:

  1. It’s been a month and a half since you left home, how is life so far?
  2. Tell us about your class experience, hit or miss?
  3. What is the one thing that you truly miss about being in Kenya?

I have compiled the responses as they sent them to me, unedited. I would like to keep it “in their own writing” Prepare yourself, this is slightly long a post. 

                                              In our house in Cardiff City.

Ronald Okello. The Cyber Security Student from Uganda.

It’s been a month and a half since you left home, how is life so far?

Oh Patience, you mean it’s just a month and a half? It feels like we have been here for ages. So far, I have blended so well with my Kenyan housemates, though sometimes they can be too loud. Please note, I am not complaining. One laughs from her room upstairs, but you can hear her voice on the ground floor. I feel like I am becoming as loud as they are. 

Ronald Okello making one of his favourite dish, Brown Ugali.

As for life in Cardiff, nothing challenging so far. I expected racism, but people have been so helpful. Excitement of shopping has dawned in this house like a plague. I am truly worried about my friends. I keep reminding them that we only have a limited suitcase limit on our way back home. If you can, please travel. It changes your perspective about life and people. We have decided to make our one-year memorable. We dance and play to “parte after parte” guided by the notion-You Only Live Once

  1. Tell us about your class experience.

School is great. I really appreciate the seriousness I have seen so far. Let me warn you. Don’t be deceived. Those who tell you studying abroad is easy, is a blatant lie. If you plan to study at Cardiff University, please prepare for brain wrecking self-study. Masters level is all about critical thinking on how you can solve problems and add value in the areas of academia. Allow me to briefly tell you about my course. 

Sidney and Ronald

I am undertaking Masters in Science, Cyber Security. The Maths in this course is something I had not seen in this planet earth yet. I now understand why passing Maths was a big deal for one to be accepted for this course. Every theoretical course unit has python programming. The course is structured in a way that meets the market requirements out there. That way, once you are done, you can be sure you will be the most sought-after professional out there. Major International Companies come to Cardiff University looking for graduates. Talk of brands like IBM, AirBus, PWC to mention but a few. I am excited about the long nights I have to put in, because I know I am heading back a complete brand. Watch this space. 

  1. What is the one thing that you truly miss about Kenya?

See, this is exactly what I told you about Kenyans. Look, this question wasn’t even edited. They forget that I am Ugandan. Maybe it’s time I located my roots in Kenya. Of course, I miss home. Ok, maybe slightly. Many activities are occupying my time here so, I rarely miss home. That said, I crave for the abundant sunshine God has blessed us with in East Africa. Here, when it shines, it calls for a celebration. The temptation to skive class and busk in the sun is so high. I miss my family and friends. I miss the fresh food in Uganda since all the food here is frozen. I love the apples in Cardiff. They taste almost like the ones in Uganda. I also miss Gulu (Northern Uganda). It’s is the place I come from. Famously known for its handsome men. We are the Luo’s in Uganda. 

Ronald (on the left) takes a selfies with his housemates.

His last response really cracked me up. Yes, we forget that he is Ugandan. We actually don’t care to remember. We know he is one of us. Ronald Okello is a Kenyan name. We are ready to help him claim his roots back in Kenya. We must force one Kenyan politician to claim him. Our relationship with him is like Kenya verses Uganda when it comes to Migingo Island.

Dr. Pamela Njuguna- The Clinical Dermatology Student.

  1. It’s been a month and a half since you left home, how is life so far?
Dr. Pamela Njuguna

Indeed, it has been a month and a half since I packed up my bags and came to Cardiff. See, I had been selected out of 50,000 applicants. I was one of the lucky 1,750 candidates who won a prestigious placement on this highly competitive Scholarship! I am a Chevening scholar!

I felt like the cat that got the cream, but this warm buzz did not last very long as I settled into our new home and settled into studies. The change of weather has been a shock, the question in Cardiff is not if, rather it is, when is it going to rain? Keeping an umbrella handy is my new favorite pastime. We are in Autumn, the colors are quite beautiful, the leaves are a beautiful red and yellow. It is cold though! The last time it was 14 degrees celsius in Nairobi, I almost died, due to the cold. We are now experiencing  temperatures as low as 10 degrees celsius, I hear it will get colder, nonetheless, I live to fight another day.

From the left; Pamela and Patience

I walk to school, which I really enjoy except when it rains. Boots; Nairobian’s we need to talk about the boots you wear in July for two weeks. Tights are a necessity, wear them inside your clothes. I have discovered the joys of thermal underwear; with thermal gloves you are home and dry. I have fantastic housemates; they cook foods that I am familiar with. I do not feel as homesick as I expected. The only typical English food I have had is fish and chips, which was quite nice, I now plan to have a Sunday roast, with all the trimmings, as they say.

  1. Tell us about your class experience. 

The classes are interesting with a lot of clinical applications and research perspectives. It’s quite amazing to be taught by the authors of chapters in the top textbooks. When you read the book later, you can see the author saying those words. My classmates challenge me to work harder and reach higher. They create a rich multicultural experience for me.

  1. What is the one thing that you truly miss about Kenya?

My family and my friends. Do I have to choose one? There are friends who are closer than a sister; and the lovely Kenyan weather.  

Mmm! This was quite minimal. Doctors are brief. Short and to the point 😊

Kenyans with the Cardiff University Vice Chancellor Prof. Colin Riordan (in a suit)

Sidney Aburi- The Data Science Student.

  1. It’s been a month and a half since you left home, how is life so far?
Sidney

Wait, it’s only been a month and a half? Feels like a year! That is exactly how it has been for me. Slooow. To be honest, I am surviving. A day at a time. I’ll summarize my stay here into 3 things: Weather, people and if anyone knows me well….FOOD. Funny thing though, I never really cared about the weather until I got here. Now, I visit the weather app on my phone more than I click on my Instagram. I have literally experienced a total of 7 sunny days since I got here. Yes, I have been counting. Nairobi, I take back all that I had said about your scorching sun. Please forgive me. I am guilty.

b). The People in Cardiff. I could go on, and on, and on about this. Everyone is too strict! I get why their systems work. You are either close to 100% or nothing. Quite inspiring, really. We could learn a thing or two to take back home. Please don’t get me started on the structure. They follow a strict set of rules and formalities that to be honest, could seem ridiculous at times but hey, I am just a simple boy from a third world country, what do I know?

Sidney (on the left) with his housemates preparing a meal during a party.

One word of advice though UK people…please loosen up, will you? And no, that fake smirk you have on your face when you pass someone on the streets does not inspire any happiness. If you have to smile, please mean it. I miss talking to random people in matatu’s. Heck, I miss talking to Uber drivers as they try to get some rating from me on their ride and boda boda guys even though I rarely could hear a word while in motion. I just miss the community back at home.

c) Food– Let’s talk about fast food. I don’t mind it at all. I love it here, way better than in Kenya. Not that I eat a lot of it (I promised my aunt at home that I shall not eat junk food. So, lets just say a friend told me their fast food is way better, no names mentioned though.) Organic food …that’s another story. Uhm let’s just say that the taste of processed meat here reminds me a lot of antibiotics. Lol, other than that, I really do not mind the food here.

With other International Cheveners who are also students at Cardiff University.

3. Tell us about your class experience.

Not once but severally, I have had to go back to my course outline just to remind myself what course I am pursuing because I might have mistaken it for French. But man, have I been challenged!

I love the course to my bone. Even even though I knew it would be intense, looks like I never prepared myself for this kind of intensity. It’s like one of my classmates said; you can’t the depth of still water by looking at it. In terms of my class composition, it is pretty much like Kenya’s right now: 70% Asian and 30% others (that’s where I belong). But they are really good people. The relationship I have with friends in my class is like an AA gathering. We just meet up to tell each other how we are doing emotionally. Like, “Hi my name is Sidney, and it has been 5 days, 15 hours and 30 minutes since I had a life other than books.” To which they respond in a typical sluggish manner, “Hi Sidney….* and they clap.” Lo, l I hope you get the drift.

Pointer to anyone who wants to pursue their Masters in the UK: my brother or sister, start preparing for a year in advance. No, I actually meant to say, two years in advance. Then, come to the UK for revision purposes, lol. I am crossing my fingers, praying that God will get me through and that I will laugh when it’s all over.

From Left, Pamela, Patience, Sidney and Ronald
  1. What do you miss about Kenya? 

I could write a book just on this question. But I will say this:

I miss very important people in Kenya. My housemates will not let me go home even for a week, because they know as much as I do…. that I may just be gone for good. Let’s just say…Peace!

Well, they have said everything I wanted to say. That’s exactly what I feel. I will, therefore, end it here since I have nothing useful to add.

We are officially in Autumn. I love the mother nature in her autumn glory. She looks spectacular. Last night, temperatures went as low as 7 degrees Celsius. Next week, I will share with you my survival tactics. I choose to bloom through the season.

See you then, Inshallah.

#IAmChevening #MyCheveningJourney

 

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Patience Nyange

I believe in a just society and I am a strong believer in Ralph Waldo Emerson words: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate and to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

17 thoughts on “Keeping Up With The Cardiffians

  • 11th November 2019 at 1:41 pm
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    Wow wow wow! I totally love the honesty each of your housemates has shared. Post grad studies are not a joke…esp if you’ve been out of academia for a “while”. My experience, many years ago, at Rhodes university the first 2 months was similar…and then there was the dons Afrikaans accent to contend with! So guys, just hang in there. Don’t quit. Ever.

    Reply
    • 11th November 2019 at 2:47 pm
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      Dear Roseleen. We are not about to quit. We are for finishing the journey strong. One day at a time. Thank you for sharing your experience.

      Reply
  • 11th November 2019 at 5:41 pm
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    Hehehehehehehe…. here I am. A little late today coz i had a busy day but i am glad i stopped by…

    Did your housemates write those stories or you did and just put their names to it (anyway, your housemates have a way with words just like you)…

    I enjoyed reading this alot … I like how Sidney described his relationship with his friends/classmates… hehehe… I felt like I was in that addict’s class with him… and i responded in a chorus-like way (with his classmates).. like …”Hi Sidney

    Anyway, poleni kwa baridi.. ( I hope Okello understands swahili by now)

    Reply
    • 11th November 2019 at 9:32 pm
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      Hahhahahahah Brenda. I was really looking forward to your comment, somehow!

      I read your comment to all my housemates and we all had a hearty laughter. Nope, I didn’t write these articles. My housemates wrote and they sent them to me. All I did was to compile them into a blog post. That’s all I did. I guess we have all blended in so well and we have found a language we all like. Yes, a lot of people have really had fun with Sidney’s relationship with his classmates. Anapambana na hali yake. Most people said they found themselves responding to him “Hi Sidney” 🙂

      Reply
      • 14th November 2019 at 3:44 am
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        It must be exciting at the same time a challenging environment as a student. Having left the corridors of academia for some time makes some difference. However, as a practising fellow your equal to the task.
        I have enjoyed reading your experiences at Cardiff. All the best mtatoboa tuu, you have wat it takes!

        Reply
        • 14th November 2019 at 12:40 pm
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          Thank you Dr. Maghanga.

          We are keeping on, keeping on. Tutatoboa. Thank you for taking your time to stop by and leave your comment.

          Chawucha sana.

          Reply
  • 11th November 2019 at 6:21 pm
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    Wow, I love your stories and I hope to visit Cardiff one day.
    A Chevener studying in Bangor.

    Reply
    • 11th November 2019 at 9:24 pm
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      Dear Alida,

      Please feel free to visit. Just let us know in advance then we can plan. We would love to hear all your stories from Bangor. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment.

      Reply
  • 12th November 2019 at 5:01 am
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    Ahem,what a wonderful piece of writing ,thank you Patience for keeping us updated on your Chevening journey.I am mesmerized by the experiences shared with your housemates ,thank you Ronald,Sydney and the lady with few words Dr. Pamela for sharing your experiences, looking forward to hearing more from you . Enjoy your stay in Cardiff and like i said keep on updating and sharing with us. #Iamachevener

    Reply
    • 12th November 2019 at 11:55 pm
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      Dear David Ondara,

      Thank you for passing by and for being so kind with your wishes to us. I will do my best to keep writing and sharing my experiences with you. Asante sana.

      Reply
  • 12th November 2019 at 10:23 am
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    A month and a half, knowing you through Patience’s words, and it feels like I have physically me all of you! Ronald, you are all ours, Kenyan! Dr. Pamela, I love how brief your post is, short and sweet, and I feel you on your new favorite pastime! I can tell from Sidney’s experience that he is surviving; Having the weather app as his new best friend, surrounded by people who are too strict, the taste of organic food…hehehe and revisiting the course outline….Wah! Patience, Dr. Pamela and Ronald, please dont let Sidney out of your sight till after the graduation!!

    Reply
    • 12th November 2019 at 11:58 pm
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      Hahahahhahah Cheboi. Thank you for creating the time to pass by and read my blog post. Yes, the beauty of us staying together is the fact that we keep checking on each other. Before we know it, we will be heading back home. As for now, we are happy taking life, one day at a time.

      Asante sana.

      Reply
  • 12th November 2019 at 6:35 pm
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    I can totally relate to all of you. Being in Canada for nearly two years now makes me feel like I have been here for decades. And yes, studying abroad is not easy. One must be ready for challenges-unexpected and unseen. The weather… where do I start with the minus degrees temperatures and snow that is inches thick? I cannot even describe winter to anyone who has not experienced it. You have to witness the full winter season for you to understand what it feels to be held ‘hostage’ to such weather. Heck! Even Canadians complain about it. Food..aah..food… Let me just say that I miss Kenyan food. The people.. make no mistake.. Canadians are very very good people. No kidding. Warm, polite, courteous, respectful and willing to help. I could write an essay about them. BUT NOT ALL OF THEM fall in this category. There is a fair share of bad eggs… But we deal with them too. Basically, Canada is a great country. But it makes one homesick!

    Reply
    • 12th November 2019 at 11:53 pm
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      Dear Eunice Machuhi,

      Thank you for sharing with us your journey in Canada. You mean it’s been two years already? Worry not, you will be done, very soon. Yes, school life abroad is just that, school life. We will hang in there and stay sober. Please consider writing about your experiences. It will be great to share your experiences. Sending you warm hugs during this winter season. Stay well 🙂

      Reply
    • 13th November 2019 at 1:00 am
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      Uuuuuh…feel like I am the fifth room mate. The experiences of your room mates are exactly the same as mine so far. The climate….Gosh…Being a Kenyan…..na ujuaji wa Mkenya…I came with my light jackets -heavy jackets are not my thing having been working in the Kenyan coast for the last 7 years. Thank God, Amazon has saved me. Otherwise I would have already been a guest to Dr. Pamela’s colleagues here.
      Anyway, it feels good to get all the experiences we are having in the UK so far. We are being shaped to be future leaders – as they keep telling us back in our land….”the leaders of tomorrow”….Ouuuch…bora uhai.

      Greetings from Leeds Uni fraternity.

      Reply
      • 13th November 2019 at 1:10 am
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        Peter Mwambi,

        Keep on, keeping on. We will make it. I wish you all the best in your endeavors. Thank you for making time to stop by and share your experience. From Cardiff University, we send you love and light all the way to Leeds University. Feel free to visit. We have enough space for anyone interested in visiting us.

        Keep warm.Asante sana.

        Reply
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