I studied abroad in Nairobi, Kenya and it was truly a once in a lifetime experience. I spent 3 month (99 days) becoming intimate with the Kenyan culture. One of the most prominent aspects on this trip was “Kenyan time”. Over and over I hear this phrase and it is 100% true; there is no rush in Kenya. If someone were to tell you to meet them somewhere it is a guarantee they will be at least an hour late. Throughout the time I spent there, this was a common occurrence. Even walking out in public, there is truly no one in a hurry which was a completely new thing from my fast-paced life. This put life into prospective for me. While we went on safari rides, I wanted to hurry and see everything, but if I had it my way, we would have missed a lot of amazing opportunities. One of these opportunities was seeing a hunting leopard within arm’s reach.
It is one thing to see animals in a zoo but a completely different thing to see them wild in their natural habitat. The organization I went through – KEI – had planned to go to Nairobi National Park and Maasai Mara Reserve. Maasai Mara was one of the best and biggest parks we went to and it had us craving for more. It was at Maasai Mara where we saw how the Maasai tribes live and how they survive in a growing industrial world. We learned all about their culture, how they grow and live, and were then offered a place to stay and the opportunity to build a mud home. This experience made my friend and I want more, so we planned 3 more trips on our own. We continued on to Nanyuki to go to Aberdare National Park, then to Ol Pejeta Conservatives at the equator, and Amboseli to see elephants under Mt. Kilimanjaro. Each park was identifiably different, and each safari made me never want to leave. It made every penny worth it.
Another scheduled trip we made was to Mombasa which was a beach close to the equator. This trip was one of my favorites because although it was a short trip, it was relaxing and extremely fun. We started the day waking up to see a great Mombasa sunrise then continued with a short visit to the Jesus museum which is where we learned about how many times Kenya was conquered by different colonies. We then had the rest of the day to relax in the hot sun. But instead my friend and I went snorkeling on the reef, which was amazing. It was an experience that made me want to go to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. It was so great we ended up going again the next morning.
One of the trips that truly completed this trip was riding a bike through Hell’s Gate. At this park we were able to ride a bicycle next to wild zebras and battling antelopes. This park also contains beautiful scenery that was used to inspire the movie the Lion King. I was fortunate enough to be able to see the Lion King in theaters while in Nairobi. The fact that I was able to distinguish animals in the film and animals I saw on safaris was truly a highlight to my life.
Although I went to study abroad to experience a different culture and to see how they teach, I left with the new outlook on life. This study abroad experience has made me open up to new, strange experiences. It made me pause and take a look at what I am currently doing in my life instead of looking at the end goal. It has taught me to value what I do everyday and make the most of every moment.
Allyson Adam is majoring in Computer Science and spent the summer 2019 semester studying abroad in Nairobi, Kenya through KEI. Allyson had the following to say about studying abroad, ‘”haba na haba hujaza kibaba’ (little by little fills the pot) – No matter what you do, even if it is just a little, it will surmount to something great. I never saw myself being able to study abroad, but little by little I got there. And it was truly worth every moment.”
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