Lasting experience at UBC summer exchange program
Faith Waikwa is a fourth-year Bachelor of Commerce student, pursuing a double major in Finance and Entrepreneurship. She recently participated in the University of British Columbia (UBC) Sauder School – Strathmore University Summer Business Program in Vancouver, Canada from July to August, 2018. She wishes it was for a longer period so that she could have more time to soak in the experience. Read on as she tells her story.
I found out about this program through our faculty as they tend to send us emails about exchange programs with other countries. I heard about them when I came to this university and had planned on doing one before leaving, and as this is my last year, I followed this one up. What was needed from me was interest and excitement, which was there in plenty.
We were two of us from the University. My other classmates were from China, Taiwan, Singapore and Thailand. We lived on campus, in apartments shared by six people, each with single rooms a shared kitchen, and living rooms. This broadened my perspectives on culture and different ways of living.
Within the university environment, the facilities and professional teaching staff here at Strathmore helped me ease into the system. They were strict on punctuality and coursework; aspects I had already become accustomed to throughout my studies. We covered two courses, Economics and Political Science. On a typical day, I would have classes from 8.30 am to 11 am and from 1pm to 4pm. Afterwards, the most exciting part of the day took over. Students from UBC would volunteer to accompany us on field trips and city explorations. The scenery of the city captivated me. It was an experience that is best lived through the eyes. The UBC Museum of Anthropology was a highlight; I learnt quite a bit about people and culture by strolling through their collections and exhibitions from South Pacific, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.
Another thing that struck me was the transport system that has a special section for people with disabilities, the elderly and children. If the bus or train was filled to capacity and an elderly person happened to get in, someone would automatically get up and offer them their seat. Road users are disciplined and courteous. It was a sharp contrast to our beloved “matatus”. I also had the opportunity to test my sprinting skills once in a while when I had to run to catch a bus or a train. They are so efficient with time that a minute or two makes all the difference between you and your destination.
I found adapting to the food a bit of a challenge. There is no African food and you have to get used to junk food, Indian, Chinese or Japanese food. I missed “kienyeji” chicken terribly and when I could no longer live without it, I would buy chicken and make it. Although I was there for a short while, I longed for home-cooking.
The experience helped me appreciate the sense of community back at home. It also encouraged me come out of my comfort zone, as I had to interact with different kinds of people for such simple acts as asking for directions. Google maps greatly helped in making our way around but there were those moments when we had to ask our fellow human beings for assistance. Canadians are expressive, an asset that I picked up and came back with.
Would I recommend this to anyone else? I definitely would. I can describe a few experiences that I lived through but I would want other students to leave Kenya for a while and experience life from a different perspective. Each day there shapes one in a way that it would not shape another.
This article was written by Caroline Gachari.
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