100 THINGS ABOUT ME

Yes, I know! It has been a while since I visited the blog or uploaded content herein. Life got really busy and somehow, the blog got the back seat. But here we are again. And we shall start it off with the mouthy 100 things about me to help you get to know me a little better.

1. What is your name? Check “about me” section.
2. How old are you?  Forever 25.
3. Are you sure? Forever 25. I am sure.
4. What is your earliest memory? Returning home in nursery to find a new nanny at home.
5. What is your favorite alcoholic drink? I am a juice and water kind of girl.
6. What is your favorite vegetable? Carrots.
7. Do you remember your first day at school? No idea.
8. What is the worst exam result you remember ever getting?  I remember a really bad mark in maths. Somewhere in the 20s.
9. How tall are you? Almost always the same height as the men I date. And the men are always somewhere between 5’10 and 6’5′
10. Can you swim? Does floating near the edge count?
11. Who is your favorite movie actress? Taraji, baby!

12. Who is your favorite movie actor? Cannot pick one so let us just say Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Denzel Washington, George Clooney. Oh the thirst going on here!

13. Who is your favorite comedian? Does that local Ugandan guy called MC Kapale count?
14. Who is your favorite politician? Which kind of human beings have favorite politicians? The devil’s cousins?
15. Who is your favorite historical figure? There was a lady called Marie Antoniette who told peeps to go buy cakes if they cannot afford bread. Clapbacks and savagery at its finest!
16. Who is your favorite super-heroine? As a Forever 25 type of girl, what are these supposed to mean?
17. Who is your favorite super-hero? I just answered that.
18. Can you name a female scientist other than Madame Curie? I am a lawyer.
19. Who is your favorite mythological god or goddess? Jesus Christ. And he is not a myth. He is real.

20. Who is your favorite woman of all time? Myself.
21. Do you agree with “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”? Revenge is only for the weak. Forgiveness is strength in reality.
22. Do you agree with “Life does not forgive weakness”? Huh?
23. Do you agree with “It is the enemy who can truly teach us to practice the virtues of compassion and tolerance”? Jesus taught those virtues thousands of years ago.
24. Do you agree with “The state can do what they want to do”? And what would the people do? Nope!
25. Do you agree with “If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country”?  Depends on what type of friend. Some are worse than the devil.

26. Do you agree with “If the path be beautiful, let us not ask where it leads”? Do I look like an idiot blindly following? No!
27. Do you agree with “Crime is a product of social excess”? Crime is a product of criminals.
28. Do you agree with “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”?  Yes.
29. Do you agree with “And mankind is naught but a single nation”? What does that even mean?
30. Do you agree with “Bulimia is soooo ’87”? HUH?
31. What is the worst movie you have ever seen?  Anything with Kevin Hart trying to be funny when he is not.
32. What is the worst TV show you have ever seen? Those sitcoms, cannot stand them!
33. What is the worst book you have ever read? Too many.
34. What is the worst song you have ever heard? A lot of the rock songs!
35. What is the worst sport you know of? Why do people beat each other in the name of wrestling?
36. Who is the worst movie “star” ever? Kevin Hart.
37. Who is the worst comedian ever? Kevin Hart.

38. Who is the worst author ever? Not very sure.

39. Who is the worst musical act ever? I dont watch musicals.
40. Who is the worst sports “star” you have ever seen? OJ Simpson
41. If you could go back in time to witness an historical event in person, what event would you want to see? None. I am comfortable reading about them.
42. If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go? Earl’s Court.
43. If you could meet anyone in the world, who would you meet? Edris Elba for thirst reasons, Trevor Noah because he is a special kind of comedian,  Maya Angelou just for just.
44. If you could become famous for one thing, what would that thing be? A child after God’s own heart.
45. If you could buy anything regardless of cost, what would you buy? The world
46. If you could change any one thing about your country, what would it be? Everything.

47. If you could change any one thing about international politics, what would it be? Trump!
48. If you could meet any famous person who is dead, who would it be? Jesus in Nazareth.
49. If you could become dictator of the world, would you? No thank you.
50. If you could eat an entire cow at one sitting, would you? I constantly de-worm.
51. Have you ever illegally downloaded music/TV shows/movies from the net? Everyday
52. Have you ever used illegal narcotics? No thank you.
53. Have you ever gotten any points on your driving license? No.
54. Have you ever stolen anything from a shop? Huh?
55. Have you ever bought alcohol or cigarettes while underage? I am a juice type of girl.

56. Have you ever bought alcohol or cigarettes for another person who was underage? No.
57. Have you ever tried to cheat the taxman/social security/other government agency? I am a decent person.

58. Have you ever ridden on a train or bus without paying? I have not found the confidence yet.
59. Have you ever been arrested? Nope.
60. Have you ever been charged with a crime … ?No
61. What’s the furthest you’ve ever been from home? UK
62. Where have you visited that you would like to go back to? Marriot Hotel, Kigali. Those beds give me life!
63. Where would you like to visit that you haven’t yet? Thailand
64. Where is your favorite place in the world?  I am spoilt for choice.
65. Where have you visited that you hope never to go to again? Nowhere yet.
66. Where would you definitely never go to? Mexico
67. Where is your least favorite place in the world? Nothing comes to mind.
68. What is your favorite way to travel  ? Dreams
69. What is your least favorite way to travel? Taxi
70. What is the capital of Assyria? I thought Assyria is a capital city. Huh?
71. What was the last movie you saw? No idea.
72. Was it any good? Huh?
73. What was the last book you read? Treasures of a man’s heart.
74. Was it any good? Very good.
75. What was the last song you listened to? “Elohim”
76. Was it any good? Absolutely. It is on replay.
77. What was the last computer game you played? I am too old to be playing computer games.
78. Did you do well? Do what?
79. What was the last meal you ate? Amazing traditional food.

80. Was it any good? I said amazing!
81. Do you believe in God/Goddess/Gods/Goddesses? I believe in GOD.
82. Do you agree with the war in Iraq? Nope. War mongering American troops!
83. Do you believe in aliens? No. The story of creation did not mention any alien.
84. Do you agree with the theory of evolution? I was created by God.

85. Do you believe in reincarnation? Once you die, you are gone.
86. Do you agree with the idea of the UN? What does this one honestly do?

87. Do you believe in karma? Oh my lovely sweet amazing Karma!

88. Do you agree with the theories of man-induced global warming? I am not Trump so yes I believe in it.

89. Do you believe in democracy above all other systems of government? Huh?
90. Do you agree with Freddie Mercury when he sings “Fat-bottomed girls you make the rockin’ world go round”? But I have a fat bottom so yes!
91. What is your favorite movie? Magic Mike. The eye candy evokes too much thirst! LOL.
92. What is your favorite book? The Grapes of Wrath
93. What is your favorite song? Suddenly.
94. What is your favorite city? London. I fell in love with this place.
95. What is your favorite sport? Basketball.
96. What is your favorite place in the world? My bed.
97. Are you glad these questions are almost over? Who wouldn’t?
98. What are you going to do next? Re-read to ensure that I have not told any FBI secrets.
99. Do you anticipate this activity being fun? Kind of.
100. Give us a quote to end on… “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” —Mark Twain

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WHO? ME? JEALOUS? ENVIOUS?

The past few months have been very difficult for me. Behind the smile I wear, I have experienced rejections, loss, uncertainties and doubt. I have often found myself with doors closed in my face. Dreams have been put on hold. The dance in the hallway has become unending as no available door was opened. Yet in this season, a lot of good things are happening to those around me. Promotions, career changes, babies, weddings, clean health bills, everything good that you can imagine.

So how about me? Where was my victory? Where were the things that I dearly prayed for? The ones that I craved for? Where was it all? As the questions lingered on in my mind and I watched other people celebrate their own successes and triumphs, I became detached. I became numb. I lost my spark. Those around me noticed but I put it to the fatigue from working too much. I became dull and brittle. I looked, behaved and acted like a defeated person. On the other hand, I avoided those who had celebrations. I avoided weddings, baptisms, birthday parties, engagements, promotion parties etc.

Why did I have to celebrate other people when my life was not going the right direction? And then the Spirit happened. The one who always brings truth to every situation. The Holy Spirit dropped it in my soul. “You are becoming jealous.” Who? Me? How? No way! I am a Christian of many years, Lord. There is no way I would be jealous. In my alternative reality, my defence was that  I was not being jealous. I was just feeling left out and discouraged. I argued that this could not be the same as jealousy. But He is an amazing God. His conviction knows no defence. It tears down even the best legal argument. In that moment, I knew that indeed I had become jealous and envious. I knew that I had to get back to the drawing board. And with the help of the Holy Spirit, I have been on the path, back to where it all started; to the place of total surrender and joy and happiness.

I have had to re-learn that someone else’s victory is not my defeat. Someone else’s happiness and victory has got nothing to do with your circumstance. Your destiny is not intertwined with their destiny. They have not taken your shine. They have not stolen your victory. Your path is not their path.  Helen Keller once stated “Instead of comparing our lot with that of those who are more fortunate than we are, we should compare it with the lot of the great majority of our fellow men. It then appears that we are among the privileged.” Whenever you find yourself concentrating on someone’s victory vs your failure, anger and bitterness are bound to arise.

I have rediscovered that it is easy to be more attentive to someone else’s victories that we forget our own testimonies through the years. After another door closed in front of me, I sat down in my sitting room, my eyes balling and silent in the midst of the defeat. I did not want to pray. I had no energy to pray. I simply was not here for any more prayers. All I wanted was to cry myself to sleep and not show up to the world. Everything within me screamed “defeated.” I looked defeated, I acted defeated and I was indeed defeated…just for the moment.

Just for the moment.

Because in all this, I had forgotten all the amazing things that God was doing and had been doing in my life. Just a few months ago, I had graduated from my dream university (Cambridge, baby!). Just the other day, God saved me from a car accident that would have ended my life. Just the other night, when I would not breathe as I suffered another bout of sinusitis, His grace enabled me to make it to the morning so I could see a doctor. Just the other week…..

Indeed my list of testimonies was quite long. God had indeed been very good to me. By focusing on the defeat of the moment, I forgot all the good things that God had done in my life. And that is the problem with focusing on what has not gone right. There is the danger of  an unfair comparison. Our journeys are different. Our testimonies are diverse. Celebrate yours and definitely celebrate another person.

If you cannot stand to see the success of other people, you will never see your own. There is this thing called karma. It knows everyone’s address and it visits at the opportune time. Celebrate other people. Be in their moment. Yours will come but until then, learn to be present in another person’s season. Rupi Kaur once said, “learning not to envy someone else’s blessings is what grace looks like.” Grace is courteous good will. Your blessings are not the same as those of another person so there is absolutely no reason for you to envy them.

But most importantly, you do not always need a plan. Sometimes you just need to sit still in the silence of the moment, let go and let God. Stop constantly trying to figure out your life and perfect your destiny. Much of our disappointments come from drawing elaborate fairy tales of our future. We plan to have every piece in place and have a perfect ending, on our own timing. But that is not what life was meant to be. It must have its ups and downs, its bumps and straight paths, its disappointments and victories. But the best thing of it all is that God has you covered in all situations.

Therefore rest in the knowledge that your imperfections are perfect. Your failures are only a stumbling block. Courtney Walsh’s poem “Dear Human” sums it up best. You came here to be gorgeously human, Flawed and fabulous.

Dear Human

Dear Human: You’ve got it all wrong.
You didn’t come here to master unconditional love.
That is where you came from and where you’ll return.
You came here to learn personal love.
Universal love. Messy love. Sweaty love.
Crazy love. Broken love. Whole love.
Infused with divinity. Lived through the grace of stumbling.
Demonstrated through the beauty of… messing up. Often.
You didn’t come here to be perfect. You already are.
You came here to be gorgeously human. Flawed and fabulous.
And then to rise again into remembering.
But unconditional love? Stop telling that story.
Love, in truth, doesn’t need ANY other adjectives.
It doesn’t require modifiers.
It doesn’t require the condition of perfection.
It only asks that you show up. And do your best.
That you stay present and feel fully.
That you shine and fly and laugh and cry
and hurt and heal and fall and get back up
and play and work and live and die as YOU.
It’s enough. It’s Plenty.

Today, I implore you to count your blessings. Name them one by one. See how far you have come. Rejoice in your victories. Celebrate others. Be present in every moment and every season. The pieces shall fall in place in the perfect season. Until then, he is still God and his plans for your life are perfect.

LIFE UPDATE

When I started this blog, it was meant to be my quiet place where I came to just rant about the things going on and also celebrate all the good things happening in my life. And then life happened!

My last post on the blog was on 16th May 2016, a day that will forever be written on my heart; the day when one of the pillars of our family lost his battle to cancer. Over the last 5 months, I have gone through a whirlwind of emotions but I am very glad that God has remained constant in every season.

A lot has happened in my life since then but my love for blogging has not stopped.

Today, I pick up the broken pieces and start again! Here’s to a very fun and fulfilled blogging experience.

PEACE FROM BROKEN PIECES

A long time ago, I chanced upon a lady called Iyanla Vanzant. Iyanla is just one of those people who tag at my Christian soul. I started watching her You-Tube videos and watching her on the Oprah Winfrey show and I totally fell in love with her. Iyanla is also a New York Times bestselling author of a book “Peace from Broken Pieces” in which she talks about finding your way through the broken pieces and the pain to peace. At this point, I want to put a disclaimer; Iyanla is both a Christian and a Yoruba priestess so you need to exercise discernment when reading her Christian literature as her Yoruba influence is in some places, in sharp contrast with the word of God.

Back to the story, I never knew that I would have to look for peace from broken pieces. All I knew is that I served God and he would listen when I prayed and with a snap of a finger, he would make everything go away. He would instantly heal the sick, raise the dead, create wealth at my disposal etc.

At 12:54pm today, I got a text message that brought my whole world crumbling down. A man I loved and respected had passed on. He is the father of my 2 daughters. Well, they are my nieces but they have always been my babies since they were born.

This message found me lining up at the college cafeteria to get lunch. My body became numb and stiff. I could not move. I stayed put. The gentleman behind me just asked me if something was wrong with me and he was met with a flood of tears rolling down freely. I was able to walk out, aided by this gentleman, and sit on a bench at college. I allowed the tears to flow freely. I didn’t care about the person next to me. I did not stop for a second to think about being embarrassed. I cried. I cried. I cried. I needed to get rid of the heavy feeling in my chest. I needed to do something to relieve that pain. When I could not breathe, I hit my chest. I remember the gentleman, God bless his kind soul, pulling me into his chest and saying that it would be fine.

And I just cried. I cried some more. I wanted that pain to go away faster. But it did not. So I excused myself and walked into the restrooms. I leaned over the sink, threw up all my breakfast and cried again. I needed to cry out all my pain so that I would be able to walk out and return to preparing for my exams.

And then I remembered my babies who were now orphans. And that brought a new pain for itself. I cried some more. I then wiped my tears and walked back to the library. As I read the first two pages, tears just flowed into the book, scaring my neighbours who did not know why this black girl was crying in a foreign land. If only I cared about what they thought.

Finally I was able to pick up my broken pieces and walk out of the library back to my house. Immediately I got home, I turned on my laptop and played “Oli Katonda” a song by Justine Nabbosa.

Suddenly, the peace of the Lord filled the room. I hadn’t stopped crying then but now I was crying in worship. I was amazed at the fact that I could still sing that he is God even when he had seemingly left me on the roadside, when he had made my children orphans, when he had made my sister a widow, when he had not listened when we prayed, when he had watched me pray for years for healing and had not delivered it. Yet I was here lifting up my hands saying “You are God and you are good and you are worthy of praise.”

Why was I worshipping him? What was there to worship? Why should I even worship him? Where was he when my world fell apart? Where was he when I prayed and trusted? Where was he when I spent nights in overnight prayers praying for the same thing? Where was he when I paced around the house, in a foreign land, praying for a miracle? Where was he when his life slipped away? Where was he? What? Which? Where? What?

Honestly, I have no answer. The only peace from the pieces is God. And because of that, I give him glory. I can still worship him. I am not looking for any answers. I am only praising his name. I am only letting him have the glory that is his and his alone.

So today, I want to encourage someone reading this; there is peace in broken pieces when God is in them. He may not glue them right back immediately. But there is peace in your broken pieces. I write this, fresh from another bout of crying. And I will probably be crying for the next one year. But there is peace in broken pieces.

TWO MONTHS UPDATE!

It is exactly 2 months and 3 days since I moved to South East England in the Cambridgeshire county to start my Masters in Law (Commercial Law) at the University of Cambridge. What an experience this has been! If anyone ever told me that packing up one’s bags to move to a foreign land would culminate into all the experiences I have encountered in the last 2 months, I would have doubted and labelled them a liar.

Two months ago, I packed up my Maganjo millet flour, my ROYCO mucuuzi mix, my Simba Mbili kanzaali powder and clothing and moved to Cambridge. I remember that experience when I baorded British Airways at 1am. This was not my first time or second time or third time flying, but all over a sudden, I had butterflies. Maybe because this was going to be my longest flight ever; 8 hours non stop to Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5. I remember sleeping almost the entire journey and only waking up in intervals for meals or to use the restroom. At about 7:30am on 29th September 2015, I landed at Heathrow! I was welcomeby the breezy sunshine! I couldnt believe I was finally here and that all the prayers I had made over the years had culminated into this. Bags were picked from the conveyor, loaded onto a trolley and then off to the National Express desk to get my ticket to Cambridge.

At 9:30am, I was aboard National Express to Cambridge and by midday, I was at Parkside bus station in Cambridge. I had prayed that God would make a way for me to find some kind people to direct me and sure enough, the Cambridge Christian Society students were at the bus stop to offer directions to Mortimer Road and off to Hughes Hall. I checked in, registered and off I went to my new residence; a pretty house in a residential area. Soon, I met all my 5 flatmates (3 guys, 2 girls) all international students studying different courses from PHDs to Masters. I discovered my faculty, tucked away 30 minutes walk from my house and over time, I have discovered other facilities from the gym to libraries to restaraunts to shopping centres to malls.

CULTURE SHOCK. Yes, i am not special. I have been a victim of culture shock although not in the extreme. Everyone in Cambridge cycles; from the lecturer to the students to the police officers to the school going children. Bicycles are the commonest means of transport here and the cycles cost between GBP 150 to GBP2000. Yes, they are that expensive. From the first day i got here, I was determined not to ride any bicycle because it is awkward for me but also the possibility of me falling off a bike and being killed instantly is very high as I have never cycled my entire life. Repatriating my body to Uganda will obviously prove costly so I do not want to make Chevening and my poor father to go through this torture. So every morning I make the 30 minute walk to school; whether it is raining, snowing, shining, windy. Come rain or shine, I faithfully walk to school each morning and every evening as everyone else cycles past me. It doesnt bother me.

THE WEATHER. Back home, I only own one jacket whose job is to accompany me to Gerenge and Bukalango and my other overnights. The rest are simple jumpers and throws. And then I moved to the UK; I currently have atleast 8 jumpers and atleast 5 scarfs! The struggle is real. British weather is deceptive. One minute it is shining bright and the next minute it is so windy and cold that your fingers can become numb in a split second. This has been the biggest adjustment since I got here. I must carry with me a raincoat, an umbrella, hand gloves, ear mufs and a heavy jacket at all times regardless of the weather. It has been quite the lesson. I had my first snow dust experience and I was not as excited as I thought I should have been; maybe because my cheeks were freezing. LOL

THE FRIENDLINESS OF THE BRITISH. When I came here, I was worried about all these stories I had heard that whites are aloof and indifferent. What I have experienced is totally different. I have found a warm people and a friendly population. Everyone has been very helpful and kind and warm. My classmates are amazing. Friendships have been formed; bonds forged and lifetime memories created. Yes, there are those exceptions who are plain rude but again, those ones are in every country and I refuse to dwell on them.

Speaking of memories, I have some very pleasant memories from my last two months. From visiting Blenheim palace, the birth place of Sir Winston Churchill, to visiting a British family for lunch to planting trees with Tree for Cities Campaign in London to attending Orientation day in the Excel Centre London. The latter has got to be my most memorable experience todate. Standing in the sea of over 1400 Chevening scholars from all over the world, inclusive of the 8 scholars from Uganda, speaking to the future global leaders, the next generation of diplomats, doctors, lawyers, journalists, enterprenuers, activists, bankers, engineers, managers, adminsitrators, meterologists, etc! It was an absolute honor to be there, representing my country that I love so so much! I felt humbled, I felt favored by God, I felt loved, I felt inspired, I was challenged, I was reminded and I was blessed! This will be my highlight for a very long time. What a day the 17th of October 2015 was!

SCHOOL. Nothing can prepare you for the amount of workload in a Masters programme at Cambridge. This supercedes LDC and makes LDC look like a joke. Every class is a full topic so whether or not you understood is immaterial! The pre-lecture readings are out of this world. 8 articles per class and every article is about 40 pages long! That excludes the cases and the other optional readings. I have stayed up longer than I have ever stayed up all my academic life. I have read and read and read. I have gone to classes where I absolutely understood nothing even after preparing for the class. I have unlearnt, learnt and re-learnt. I have had blank stares when I have not understood the theories underpining investment law. And yes, I have had my best moments when everything is flowing especially in my tax and corporate governance classes. I have whatsapped in class once and got in trouble with the professor (hihihihi). I have read countless emails sent to my university email address. I have done it all.

I even survived a scam of my phone from a company called Elite Phones and Computers. This is a story I will live to tell my children but I am glad I have my phone today and can look back and laugh at the experience.

I have found a church; Kings Church Cambridge. Anyone who knows me will tell you how important it is for me to be apart of a church. It keeps me in check. It keeps me rooted and it keeps me grounded in Christ. This church has enabled me to still find my way to the cross amidst all the daily challenges of living in a foreign land.

Speaking of church, I went to a concert a few weeks back; Matt Redman and Kari Jobe UK Tour 2015. I got to meet the two artists backstage and was amazxed at how humble they are and the evident glory of God upon their lives. Speaking of tours, I even signed up for the Big Church Day Out 2016 which will be 2 days of awesome praise and worship with some of the best gospel acts from Matt Redman, Israel Houghton, Jesus Culture, Toby Mac, Tim Hughes, etc!! Trust me  this is going to be one amazing experience! I simply cannot wait.

God has been so good to me in a foreign land. I simply cannot comprehend how much he has favored me, how much he has loved me, how much he has blessed me, how much he has lifted me. My cup simply overflows! I look back at my life; this girl from Buddu has come from very afar and is only here because of his grace! Whenever I feel overhwlemed, I am quick to remember that God’s will can never take you to a place where his grace cannot sustain you. I am blessed that he has sustained me todate.

Christmas season is upon us and the signs are evident everywhere I go with Christmas trees everywhere.

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE. May God birth new seasons in your lives.

 

 

APPLYING FOR A MASTERS OR SCHOLARSHIP? THIS IS FOR YOU!

Over the last three months, I have been bombarded with numerous questions from persons who are intending to apply for Masters courses and/or for different scholarships, maybe because I am currently doing my masters on a scholarship. I cannot claim exclusive knowledge to writing a successful scholarship application or admission application but I will share with you my personal tips and what I have been told by admission teams while studying here and attending career events. I do hope that it will help someone out there although I must note that this post will have a lot of references to the LLM because that is what I am most conversant with.

Tip 1: Apply!

I know you are saying “Obviously” but it is saddening how many people exclude themselves from opportunities due to self doubt and thinking that there is no way they would be chosen. I am a current Chevening scholar and I know this first hand because I doubted my abilities to even apply for the scholarship and always asserted that there is no way I could beat over 700 applicants. We all know how that story ended; I got to be part of the amazing 8 scholars from Uganda, arguably these 7 scholars are the future of this country and somehow God deemed it fit to throw me in there somewhere. So apply! It never costs to apply for any scholarship so do not exclude yourself. You will be shocked at how that random application could actually be the winning one.

If you have always wanted to apply to a certain university, apply!! There is no university too high for your reach! Do not settle for less because you think it is more convinient for you.

Tip 2: APPLICATION EXPENSES

Most applicants never put this into consideration but the truth of the matter is that applications to most  schools will cost you between $50 to $100 per application. It is important that you budget for these expenses before hand and start to save up on money to meet these expenses. A typical application will constitute one or more of the following expenses:

a. Application fee. This fee will have to be paid before you submit your application to the university. Universities in the UK charge between £50 to £100 pounds per application. Their American counterparts charge in the region of 50 to 100 dollars.

b. English language test fee. Certain universities will require proof of your English language proficiency and it will not be sufficient for them that you have spoken English all your life! They will require either GMAT, IELTS or TOEFL and the absurd part is that these tests are extremely expensive. In Uganda, an IELTS test costs UGX 850,000 and TOEFL costs $175 and the prices may change over time. Scholarships also require the same English proficiency tests although the price then comes down to UGX 550,000 for IELTS and TOEFL price remains the same.

c. Medical report and TB test. Should you be successful in obtaining a scholarship, you will be required to take a full medical exam and a TB Test and the latter costs $100 at IOM Kololo in Uganda which is equivalent to about UGX 310,000. This is exclusive of the medical tests that you will have to take in addition.

d. Courier and postage fees. Universities will require certified copies of your qualifications and these must be sent to the university in hard copy. Courier services will cost you between UGX 90,000 to UGX 150,000 depending on which courier service you use. The most important thing is to use the services of a reputable courier in order to avoid loss of your documents and the mental stress that follows thereof.

The good news however is that some universities are kind enough to waive the application fee. As such, always ask if it is possible to waive the application fee and do not always assume that it is not possible. I have got application fees waived for me to some universities I applied to. Ask first and you may be saved a ton of money.

TIP 3: READ INSTRUCTIONS

This is the one thing that many applicants do not pay attention to. I attended a career seminar at Cambridge and one of the admissions secretaries told me that this is the one thing that irks many admissions teams and will get your application binned faster than Eminem rapping. Read instructions! Read instructions! Do not assume that you know. If an application asks you how you meet the requiste criteria, show how you meet the requisite criteria. Do not set your own questions and then answer them accordingly. Follow instructions! If an application asks you to show your leadership capabilities, do not go into your intellectual capacity because clearly no one asked you for it.

If the application tells you to write 300 words, writing 301 words is a quick way to get rejected. If it requires you to use a certain font and certain font size, refusing to comply is at your own detriment! If you are told to send 3 referees, sending 2 referees is a guaranteed rejection. If you are told to apply by a certain deadline, there will be no exceptions and you will not be allowed to submit past the deadline. Excuses are unacceptable to most universities. The application window usually lasts 3 months so you should not wait for last moment lest your computer crushes or the system is overloaded and you are unable to meet the deadline as this will be a lame excuse. If you are told to send a certified copy of the transcript, sending just a photocopy of your transcript is not fulfilling that requirement! Read all the instructions letter for letter and ensure that you have fully complied.

Comply with instructions! Comply with instructions! I cannot emphasize this enough.

TIP 4: REFERENCES.

Most applications will require you to provide references. The instructions will specify if the reference is academic or personal. If you are asked for an academic reference, please note that your employer does not qualify except if he also doubles as your former lecturer. It is interesting how many people get their relatives and friends to write for them references when it is clearly indicated “academic references” only! You will be truly shocked at the blatant failure to follow instructions as simple as that.

Provide your referee with the requisite details to enable them write a proper reference. Do not assume that they know it all. For example, many scholarships have set criteria for what a candidate must demonstrate e.g. leadership capacity, intellectual ability, financial need etc. If you do not tell your referee what the scholarship or application is looking for, they will clearly omit important details and hence give you a mediocre reference in the eyes of an admissions team or scholarship decisions board.

It is also important to find references that know you well and/or have interacted with you as they are able to write good references for you and even the flow will show whether that person actually knows you or the reference is mere corporate social responsibility on their behalf.

Another ignored instruction is on how references are to be sent. Many universities require that references be on institutional headed paper e.g. a university headed paper and/or be sent from an institutional email e.g. a MUK webmail. Obviously because the applicant did not read the instructions, they do not tell this to the referee who then sends a reference that does not comply and ultimately leads to your disqualification. It is not the referees’ fault because they do not have the time nor duty to know these facts. It is your fault for not bringing these facts to light.

TIP 5: PLAGIARISM IS FATAL

We have grown up in a culture where people confidently plagiarise everything from songs to articles to even names. The sad reality is that people plagiarise personal statements and application forms! This is a warning that plagiarism will cost you all your efforts. Admissions teams read about 15,000 applications per year and will definately tell if your application sounds like something they have seen or read before. A human mind never forgets certain things especially if they have seen them over and over again. I assure you that all copied material will be found out and discarded accordingly. Note that it may even be a criminal offence in certain jurisdictions.

Personal statements(PS) are the biggest culprits of plagiarism! Many people request for PS of those who have already been admitted under the pretext of just reading through to get the flow but in actual sense, plagiarism does accrue. Certain universities have developed softwares that are able to highlight every plagiarised statement and you will definately be found out and your application will be thrown out regardless of how good it is.

I personally do not write drafts for personal statements. I write and think best when I am writing from my heart so I tend to type directly into the application and read through again to correct any gramattical errors. This approach may not work for other people but it works perfectly for me because I write from my heart.

The best personal statement is original. It oozes passion and you can tell that it is from that person. That is why it is called a PERSONAL statement because it is meant to be personal; straight from your heart and reflect what you want to say. You cannot express yourself well if you are saying someone else’s passion. It is even worse where your application is followed up by interviews because at the end of the interview, it becomes clear that what you are saying and what you initially said do not add up hence you plagiarised. Be you. Be original. Write from your heart.

TIP 6: RESEARCH YOUR COURSE VS YOUR AMBITIONS

There are so many people who apply to courses or scholarships just because someone else they know applied or is applying to the same. The copying syndrome is inherent in many human beings. Many universities are best known for certain courses and fields of law. The university may be prestigious in nature but the prestige does not extend to all its modules on offer. For example, I have always argued that if one wants to forge a career in human rights law, the best bet is on the Scandinavia or South African universities and not on Cambridge or NYU or Princeton. This is because these universities have specialised LLMs for these fields of law yet if you went to other universities, you would find only 1 or 2 modules in your area of interest. If you want to do technology law or medical law or a specialised LLM, find a university that offers that LLM and has attained a reputation in that offering. It will be best placed to offer you a quality education and arguably quality for money. The same applies to all other courses be it music, arts, pyschology, finance etc.

TIP 7: SPREAD YOUR EGGS

The ultimate mistake for many applicants is overconfidence; feeling too good not to be rejected by anyone! FALSE! BIG MISTAKE! The people who are rejected are not always those who have bad grades or are not a perfect fit. It is therefore important that you plan for a rainy day by applying to as many universities as you possibly can. Research your choices and then apply to those specific universities. It is highly unlikely that out of the 5 universities you apply to, you do not get admission to any of them. So spread out your options and apply to as many universities, without compromising the quality of your intended education.

This principle also applies to scholarships. Apply to each and every scholarship that you are eligible for. Do not be picky after all a beggar has no choice. LOL. But seriously, do not exclude yourself from a scholarship that you are eligible for. Apply to as many as you can. Cast your net wide enough with the hope that atleast one fish will fall in the net.

TIP 8: GRAMMAR AND PUNCTUATION

I am not a grammar Nazi but I can smell bad grammar from a distance. Heck yes, I can even see it immediately I start reading an essay. Uglish is not proper English! Writing an essay as if it is a funeral announcement, with no punctuation whatsoever is an unforgivable sin. Wrong grammar is unacceptable even if you are a victim of auto correct.

Read through your essays atleast twice, to ensure that they are properly punctuated and that the English is proper and that your essay is precise and easily understandable. Connected to this, let your essay have a flow. Some essays remind one of a bouncing ball. The essay is all over the place to the extent that you cannot establish the conclusion, preamble and/or content. No one has time to analyse your essay to figure out what you are saying, yet they have another 1000 essays to look at. Make it easy for the reader to follow and ensure that your essay does stand out and is not cliche, average and mediocre.

TIP 9: THE REJECTION CURSE

I wish I was able to assure you that every university you apply to will admit you and that every scholarship you apply to will give you the scholarship. Unfortunately that is far from the truth. Every elite university and scholarship deals with tens of thousand of applications from all over the world and understandably, they have to turn down some of the best candidates because of admission and space constraints. So when you are turned down, it does not mean that you are not good at what you do or that they do not find you good enough for the course. It simply means that someone else got in before you and you should not feel inferior or throw in the towel.

There is always another year and you should be able to apply again. Initial rejections can and do turn into subsequent admissions! You never know the plans God has for you. So do not give up. Try again even when you do not feel like it. I wrote a piece on my blog on dreams coming true and I recommend it for anyone who feels frustrated and wants to throw in the towel for good. You can access it at https://pronambatya.wordpress.com/2015/10/02/dreams-do-come-true/ and I hope it does encourage somebody.

TIP 10: GOD

If you forget everything I wrote, atleast remember this one tip! When all fails, consult with God.When you feel discouraged, run to God. When you are confused and do not know what to do, run to God. When you want to apply, tell God about it. At the end of the day, I am nothing without God. He shines light on my paths and guides my footsteps. You could write the best application there is in the world but if God is not in it, it is a fruitless venture!

I wish you all the success in the world. At the end of the day, God is still in control.

Regards from cold Cambridgeshire.

DREAMS DO COME TRUE!

This will probably be the most personal post i will ever make. I write this blog sitting in the Lounge of Entebbe International Airport as i wait to board my flight to the United Kingdom to start on my journey of chasing my dreams. I know that you are probably reading this and saying “Eeehh maama. Lucky girl.” Yet, it has not always been like that and I will tell you why.

From time immemorial, I have been a fan of the University of Cambridge. My teachers and professors all encouraged me to aim for other law schools like Harvard, Oxford, Cornell, Columbia, NYU etc. But my heart has always been with Cambridge. Cambridge excites me. Cambridge gives me a thrill that i cannot explain. Cambridge is Cambridge. Regardless of how many law schools offered me admission, Cambridge kept calling out my name and I have always been willing to answer it.

After finishing law school, i started on the process of applying to Cambridge. And obviously since I did not have the required GBP 35,000 I knew that it was time to look for scholarships. So naturally, i just applied for the only scholarship i knew which was the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship. And then March came and I WAS ADMITTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE!!! Yes, you heard right!! I was admitted. I was excited. I was elated. I was over the moon. On the same day as my graduation from the bar, i got an email from the Cambridge Trusts stating that I had been nominated for the only scholarship i had applied for. Double happiness. Michael Jackson moves. Jason Derulo flips. I was that excited.

I filled in the nomination form and waited to receive communication about whether or not i had got the scholarship! In early June, the scholarship recipients were announced.

AND I WAS NOT AMONG THEM!

Naturally, i was numb. I was emotionless. I was speechless. I was disappointed. My world came crushing. This was the biggest rejection of my life. It was not fair. I was sad. I felt like a failure. I questioned my capabilities and my intelligence and felt like i was the dumbest person in the world. How is it possible that my name was not on the list? Had they skipped it by mistake? What? How? Where? Too many questions whose answers I could not find. I later received an email stating that i had been reserved and would only get the scholarship if one of its recipients was unable to take it on.

Disappointed and torn apart, I had to think. What next? How was I going to pay BP 35,000? Over the next few weeks, I thought and thought and after praying about it, i painfully wrote to the Law School withdrawing my acceptance of the offer on grounds that I did not have the required funds. And it was heartbreaking as can be.

Fast forward to October 2014 and i reapplied for admission. This time around, i applied for 4 other scholarships including the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship. Once again and by the grace of God, i was admitted for the second time in a row and i watched many others being rejected even with better grades and first class degrees.

And one by one, the scholarships deemed it fit not to consider me. First, I was not admitted to my first choice college and with it, i lost the chance of being considered for 2 scholarships! Then another independent scholarship I had applied for from another college wrote back telling me that I was unsuccessful as well. But i held onto the hope of a Commonwealth Shared Scholarship. I knew God would hear my prayers.

One fine Sunday morning, i woke up to an email from the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission. I panickingly opened the email and amidst the long letter, the first word i saw was “…….was unsuccessful…” Yes, you read it well.

UNSUCCESSFUL AGAIN!

Not even reserved like the last time. Unsuccessful!! My reaction was total disconnection. I was neither sad nor happy.  I just remember laughing out so loud and just waking up and freshening up to go to church. And to church I went. I remember when we were asked to tell our neighbors our prayer requests, i just told her that I had no prayer request and just had a lot to thank God for. My mother taught me to praise God in the storm and I was not about to let her down.

I may have been disappointed but I was still alive. I was breathing. I was well. I was healthy. I had breakfast. My fridge had drinks and food. I had money in my wallet. My parents were alive and well. I had reason to be thankful to God.

Sometime in November last year, i had applied for a Chevening award. It was one of those things you do on an idle day. I applied just for the sake of it. Nothing serious. It was just something i impulsively did. it was one evening as I sat in my office after a long day, waiting for the rain to stop falling so that I could go home. I had seen the social media posts about the Chevening awards and duly ignored them.But now that I was idle and disorderly, I decided to just have a look at it. I ended up creating an account and applying.

Despite that, I was really not interested. Maybe because I was beyond sure that I would get funding from the other scholarships. Also because in one random conversation i had with a friend, she had mentioned that with Uganda’s level of corruption, getting such a scholarship is almost impossible.

But also I knew that such scholarships attract many applicants. I later found out that over 700 applicants from Uganda had applied for this scholarship. After applying, I totally forgot about it.

In February this year, I opened my google mail as usual to check for a certain email I was waiting for. It is then that  i saw an email stating that I had gone through the first stage of the selection process which is the initial assessment by a committee of independent experts in the UK and that the application had been sent to the British High Commission in Kampala for assessment.

I didn’t really read much into it and just ignored it. Then in March, i got an email stating that I had been shortlisted for the interview.

Suddenly I started to pay attention.

It was the same attention that Paul (then Saul) paid when he met the Lord on his way to Damascus. A sudden unexpected interruption.

I discovered that out of over 700 applicants, only 24 had been shortlisted for the interview and that only 8 scholarships would be awarded. I was shocked more than excited. I wondered if the committee had made a mistake and put my name instead of someone else’s name.

I started to pay attention. It felt like God had finally got my attention. I booked my interview date for the first available day for the interview. I don’t believe in procrastinating and I wanted to get done with it as soon as possible. I really didn’t prepare much for the interview until the actual day of the interview. At exactly 2.30pm, my interview that had been scheduled for 3pm commenced. I had to face a panel of 3, including 2 high level diplomats and a Chevening alumni.

I decided that I would speak from my heart. After close to 50 minutes, my interview that should have lasted 30 minutes, ended.l

I cannot describe how I felt after that interview. Mixed feelings of failure and uncertainty. I kept wondering if i would have done more. If i could have said more. If i could have spoken less or If i had impressed the panel.

What followed were 2 months of waiting. Personally, i knew i was not going through so i was not paying any attention to the updates that were being given by Chevening.

PAGE BREAK: The above was written in May 2015. A friend of mine always told me to do things as if they have already happened. So i wrote most of this first part way before the events listed below actually happened. It was a demonstration of faith that the next half of my story would bear fruit and give God the glory. The story following below is what i wrote on 2nd June after the events listed herein under had taken place.

I had spoken to one of the applicants before and we had made fun that calls from 0312 were to be avoided in May because obviously they would be from the British High Commission and have the potential of bearing bad news. I had saved the number of the British High Commission and gone through a rehearsal of how my heart would pump when the call finally came through.

The day was 28th May 2015 at about 7.30pm. Earlier on in the day, I had attended a Uganda Law Society training on financial crime. The training ended earlier than anticipated so I headed back home to do my laundry that had been pending for weeks. Doing my laundry took longer than i expected. I had soaked my towels as the last items to be washed. Just before I washed the towels, I went to check my phone which I had left in my bedroom.

I suddenly felt the need to check my Facebook and see what was going on. I was drawn immediately to an inbox message and on opening it, it was from one of the applicants telling me to check my email and that the results had been posted. I wish I had the right words to describe my feeling at that moment. My heart was pumping faster than Eminem rapping. My palms were sweating. I was shaking. I wanted to go to the toilet but my legs would not move. I couldn’t stand as my knees were weak. So i sat on my carpet!

In confusion, I logged into my online Chevening application account. IT WAS BLANK! All my information had been deleted and there was nothing. I was confused and wondered what happened. Its only 2 minutes later that I realized that I should be checking my email and not logging into my application.

I started looking for my GMAIL app on my phone but because of the confusion and the tension, I couldn’t even find my app. Finally, I found the app and opened it. And the email was right there.

“We are pleased to…”

That is all I read! Pleased. Pleased. Pleased. My English teacher told me that pleased is usually accompanied by good news. I did not even read the entire email.

YES! FINALLY!!! CHEVENING HAD GIVEN ME A CONDITIONAL OFFER FOR A FULLY PAID LLM AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE!! YES!!

I was screaming, jumping up and down and crying at the same time. “Thank you Lord. Thank you Lord” was all I could find strength to say. It was finally over. I called my mum to break the news to her but all i managed to tell her was “I am through!” and she kept asking me what that meant but i just kept repeating and then switched off the phone. Later i was able to calm down and call her and dad and tell them and also tell my siblings and a few friends. I was happy. I was elated. I was thankful to God. God had been faithful to the very end even when i doubted him out of frustration and wondered if he was listening to me or was simply deaf.

What followed was a long process of sending various documentation to the UK, of getting my university offer confirmed and sitting my IETLS to show proof of proficiency in the English language. And God was faithful through each and everything. I passed my IETLS and my conditional scholarship offer was confirmed. (In the future, I will be blogging about my Chevening journey separately)

So much happened after that, but that is not the essence of this post.

Anyone who knows me will tell you how private I am. I never post my life on social media or on the internet. This will probably be the first and the last time I do this. If I “undress” my heart and allow myself to lose my privacy by sharing this very personal experience with strangers, It is because I want you to know that dreams do come true and that God is faithful. He will never test you beyond what you can handle. He will never give you a burden greater than your loading capacity.

I want you to know that he is a faithful God. He hears and in his own perfect timing, he will come through. He listens to our heart’s desires and will work out something for us. He sees our frustrations and they break his heart just as much as they break our hearts. You have got to be determined. You have got to try again. You must be willing to start all over again. You must go through the process. You simply cannot give up. There is no place for small dreams in the kingdom of God. Go big or go home!

I write this because I want to challenge you to dream big. I want to challenge you to get out of your comfort zone. I want to revive that dream in your heart! I want to cause you to think about that dream again. That dream is still as valid today, as it was then!

2nd October 2015

So i am encouraging to try again. You owe it to yourself and your God to do so. Do not give up. Its just a matter of time!

From cold Cambridgeshire, England, praying for you to have the strength to try again. Best wishes!