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.