My Kenyan Experience
Taejeong Woo, known in Kenyan circles as “Jay”, is a BA International Relations student at the University of Nairobi and an Intern at KOTRA Nairobi.
When did you begin your studies in Kenya?
I began my studies in June 2017. But, because there were a couple of strikes, an election week and many demonstrations, I have barely studied yet. (Tears!)
What do you love the most about Nairobi?
Nairobi’s weather is the best in the world. The weather here has always made me feel so relaxed, ridding me all the stress from work and study. Breathing the air, the air breezing all over my face, is just my favorite thing!
What are some of the culture shocks you encountered upon landing in Kenya?
I had some shocking experiences. Upon my arrival in Kenya, I could not carry my entire luggage, so I asked for help from an employee at JKIA. He out rightly replied, “If you give me two dollars, I will help.” I wondered why he would ask for money to help me carry stuff within a short distance!
Another experience I had was being mugged in the taxi on my way to Westlands. A guy put his hand through the car window, grabbed my phone and ran away. I was SPEECHLESS. These are not culture shocks per se but rather a side of Kenya that I had not expected.
Do you get in touch with other Koreans in Kenya? Are you close?
Yes, I met a few Koreans. Since there are only two Korean students in University of Nairobi, I barely get the chance to get close to many. But, I have met some Koreans from the Korean Church in Kenya and we are quite close.
What advice do you have for Koreans who would want to study or visit Kenya?
At UoN, there are some Professors who are frequently late to classes for almost an hour. I guess this is called “Kenyan time”. Also, there are times when we can write notes for three hours non-stop. And then the black outs!
Surprisingly, UoN students do not rely too much on anyone, neither professors nor school to get things done. Even if they don’t have proper textbooks for themselves, they will find a way out. When there is no electricity, they will pull out their phones, light them with the passion to learn. They find their own way to study rather than taking a back seat and making excuses.
These things I have learned here and I can only call them “legit Kenya”. Here, in Kenya, you might face one of the most unbearable difficulties that you wouldn’t want to encounter. However, you will learn more after overcoming them. You will see yourself grow up. You will see the real Kenya. You will get people to help you from the beginning of your journey.
So, why not pay a visit?