In pursuit of change and knowledge. “I was born and raised in central Kenya, in a town called Nyeri, located about 150 km from Nairobi, the capital. I arrived in October last year, looking for a change of scenery and eager to explore Europe. I applied for international scholarships and got one here in the Netherlands. I felt that Urban Management and Development would be a coherent addition to my previous education and the job I was doing back home. In Kenya, I did a Bachelor in Environmental studies, with a social focus on community development. Afterwards, I worked at a hospital for HIV and AIDS patients, under the US PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief) programme, where I dealt with environmental impact assessments. So this Master programme – ultimately focused on making cities more sustainable and liveable – encompasses both social and environmental aspects, allowing me to work in whichever field I want.”

Dance. “When I arrived, I was looking for hobbies to pick up here in the Netherlands, as I wanted to do something else besides studying. I’ve always loved dancing, so I joined Erasmus Dance Society at the beginning of the year. I tried out different dance styles and found I liked kizomba the most. It is a very sensual and relaxed dance, involving a lot of hip movement. The music originates from a mix of African and Haitian genres and when you hear it for the first time, it resembles those slow and chilled island rhythms. I didn’t do classes in Kenya. It wasn’t necessary, as dance is such an inherent part of the culture. We’re just used to expressing love for music and dance during parties, whether in a nightclub or at someone’s house. But I also enjoy partying here in Rotterdam. I’ve met a lot of great friends and together we go to bars, arrange house parties, barbecues and dinners. One thing I had to get used to was that bars here close around 2 or 3 a.m. In Kenya, this is the time when people go to clubs and live it up till 7-8 in the morning.”

Reading and travel. “When I’m not doing all the crazy stuff, I love to just sit and read. I prefer reading to watching a film in my leisure time. Let me say, since I arrived here, I mostly read academic literature or anything that relates to my career, but I can also read something completely different, for example a fictional book, a blog or a magazine article. I’ve also travelled around Europe to explore as much as possible before I leave. France left a special impression on me. But a round trip in Italy was also unforgettable.”

Future. “I’m comfortable working in any country and really open to diverse opportunities. I like my experience in Europe though, and feel there’s much more to explore. Besides, my credentials will speak for themselves here, while in Kenya getting a job without any connections is very difficult.”