Uganda is home to excellent and affordable universities, and many students from all walks of life are crossing over the East African borders in search of quality education. Kampala International University, located in Kansanga, welcomed me to the bustling city life, which was both challenging and rewarding at the same time.
There were students from Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, Somalia, South Sudan, The Gambia, and many other nations worldwide.
Before I delve further into academic heights, let it be known to you that Ugandans are very hospitable people, and they love fun.
While there were some residence halls at that time, unfortunately, they could not accommodate the growing number of students by then, so they had to be adjusted in the hostels around the campus. for those who stayed far from the university facilities, they offered shuttles to ferry students. Some students were needy and had difficulty paying for hostels and others wanted to save and delve further into the slums of Nabutiti for accommodation as an adventure, especially the men. Luckily, Uganda is generally safe, though some students would lose a few items here and there.
The university encouraged many extracurricular activities, and I participated in athletics and a few leadership programs that shaped me for managerial roles in the newsroom. Students were pushed to achieve academic excellence and were offered help and opportunities to develop their talents.; we could join the many different clubs that brought students with common interests together, giving us a sense of belonging and keeping at bay the feeling of loneliness and homesickness.
The Dean of Students office also offered guidance and counseling services to ensure studies are uninterrupted while at the same time we got psychological support when needed.
Many battled malaria in Kampala, but we had an university ambulance, which was always on standby, to rush to the nearby Kibuli Muslim Hospital for severe cases which could not be handled at the campus clinic. All international students had medical access cover for such eventualities.
As for spiritual guidance, places of worship at the university existed and it covered all the faiths; Christians,, Seventh Day Adventists and Pentecostals, had their respective rooms for worship while Muslims also had a room at the basement one for devotion.
There are several things a student can do while studying in Uganda, for instance, there are a lot of internship opportunities in the institution’s NGOs. Most students use their free time to volunteer in schools and organizations close to the faculty to help them towards their self-actualization journey while at the same time maximizing their potential.
Kampala has a very organized transport system of blue and white checked taxis, which in Kenya is known as matatus and Tanzania daladalas. There is also a safe bodaboda which most students find more affordable than private hire cars.
Regarding the cousin, Uganda’s meals mainly comprise starch and peanut sauce or stew of vegetables, meat, or fish. I suggest to anyone to taste matooke (mashed plantains) and peanut sauce on their first week there.
Finally do not forget to visit Owino Market for cheap second-hand clothes.
By Janet Otieno