Kenya 1 ー 7 learnings from another life turning point in Africa

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Life is full of new encounter and departure, be it with people, items, jobs or places to live.

The reason I said good-bye to Mauritania (Nouakchott) was to say Hello to the new destination, Kenya (Nairobi). This is quite a big move, mentally (change of my work) and physically (west to east of this big African continent).

Since then, more than a month has passed and I already learned some important life lessons, which I would like to share hoping they can be informative and applicable to other situation.

7 learning from another turning point in Africa

Human connection

Although it is a new turning point, it is not first time to be in Nairobi. This May, I came here as a tourist and connected with some people, and without this trip, I would not have moved here. You never know what will happen and human connection is very important to make new pathway (and simply you cannot live alone).

Also, thanks to our friends who let us stay in their house and thoughtful colleague who allowed me to search houses after arrival, settlement went quite smooth.

Local people seem to be very nice and open (a few of them were too open to lose your privacy, so need to be careful).

New environment (pros and cons)

Below are pros ◯ and cons ⚫️, which show the important aspect of life (as it is difficult to realize those when you are in the same place).

Pros

  • Green: Nairobi has lots of green and forests, which is so far the biggest change compared to Mauritania where the majority of land is sand and dessert.
  • Temperature: Nairobi is very comfortable (20-25 degree) as opposed to 30-45 degree in Mauritania
  • Animal: It is one of the animals paradise and it feels great to sleep and wake up with the songs of insects birds respectively.
  • Restaurants: There are so many options to eat out (I haven’t managed to tick all the “to go” list).
  • Entertainment: I don’t demand for many things, but the fact that there is a movie theatre makes me excited.
  • Market: Many choices are available so that I resumed cooking seriously for my future food project
  • Uber and Bolt for transport: taxis through app are available anywhere so actually I might not need to buy a car

Cons

  • Traffic: Car traffic in Nairobi is one of the worst I have ever seen.
  • Security: another big weak point is security, as there have been many incidents (e.g. terrorist attacks)

Communication Channel changes mindset

While I was mainly using French in Mauritania, most people in Kenya speak English, which changes my mindset, as the environment in which you learned and used language defines your personality. For example, I learned Spanish with cheerful Mexican people, so my mind feels more liberal when I use Spanish, while I become more serious myself when I speak English as I learned it at school and use it at work.

Priority to find a house

Without doubt, finding a place to live was the top priority more than anything (remember Maslow’s basic needs). There are so many house choices so we had to narrow down based on our priority criteria, which are below:

  • Location (walking distance to work was my preference due to the heavy traffic)
  • Furnished and all inclusive (to avoid hassle of buying, paying the bill and selling things as minimalist)
  • Environment (high security, neighboring market, noise for sleeping)
  • Content of the house (good kitchen, green, sunlight, animal)
  • Sports (we do video exercise every morning, so it is quite important to be able to jump and hop)
  • Price (this is in general the most important factor, but my work’s subsidy system is a bit strange in that the more you pay, the more you get, so it does not make much difference in some way)

Routine

During the process of settling down, it was so easy to lose the track of 3E (Eat well, Exercise well, Energize well) which disturbed my metabolism and physical/mental health. So it is important to push yourself to keep the daily routine even during the transition period as much as possible.

Meeting new people

Having said that (keeping your routine), it is also important to force yourself to meet new people by coming out of your comfort zone. For example, Internations (global meet-up community) is very big in Nairobi and you meet new people every time (e.g. in Mauritania, it was very small so that everyone got to know each other). So balancing expansion and narrowing down of network is important (Initial stage will be expansion).

Appreciation (learning from Mauirtnaia)

As mentioned in the 20 learnings from Mauritania, the best take-away was to appreciate for simple things, which we would like to keep no matter how convenient new environment is (to do so, we prey every morning). It is very easy to get used to fancy life and take it for granted (I met new comers from New York, Paris and other big cities who didn’t think Nairobi was that great). As said by Steve Jobs, we need to keep going out of our own comfort zone and maintain learning.

Stay hungry, stay foolish (Steve Jobs, 2005 Stanford ceremony)

The learning of this time 

From new turning point to move in Kenya, I learned about human connection, life priorities and the importance of keeping your routine, appreciation and learning even in a comfortable environment. 

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