The journey from Kenya to Sligo was long, tiring and full of adventure but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’m now looking forward to meeting new people and embracing new challenges here in Ireland.

My name is Olive Wanjiru and I am from Kenya and currently studying at the Institute of Technology Sligo (IT Sligo). Having received offer letters from two different countries, I had to weigh the two options and settle for the best (Ireland). I have never been away from home and moving here was both an exciting and frightening experience.

Long journey
First of all, I had to say goodbye to my close family which was very emotional. Then, on the big day, my sister and my brother Phyllis and Jeff took me to the airport three hours before my flight to avoid being late; otherwise our mum would have ‘swallowed ‘us alive!
The flight was exhausting and very long at about eight hours with two stops (Addis Ababa and Madrid), where I got lost a couple of times. The food was something you would not wish to eat again. But, hey, I got no stomach upsets and with an economy ticket, what was I expecting?

Safe arrival
I arrived at Dublin Airport at 7am and things didn’t start well: my bags were huge and getting them onto the trolley took huge effort! Don’t even mention pushing the trolley around the airport with one wheel misbehaving! This has happened to me on many occasions, especially in supermarkets back home and is not much fun.
Anyway I got on the bus to County Sligo and for about four hours, sitting beside the window with my Airpods listening to rock music, I was in a good place.

Great welcome
On arrival, my accommodation wasn’t far from the bus stop and I had someone to help me settle in. Almost everything was new and different from home. First, no more Swahili! But then everyone is smiling at me and super friendly which made me feel comfortable and welcomed.
The roads are very clean and as a pedestrian, you don’t just march across the street jaywalking; you have to press a ‘wee’ gadget and wait for the go ahead sign. This was new! I’m not in Kenya any more, for sure!

Life-changing experience
Being quite an introvert, meeting new people is a little frightening for me but my flatmates were very accommodating. There are also other international students at IT Sligo which at least meant we could walk together to school.
Did I mention that my visa had been delayed and I was two weeks late? This meant I had to catch up with my classes.
Anyway this could wait until the next day. I was pretty worn out and what I needed at that moment was a good meal, a warm shower and some sleep.
This day was a life-changing experience for me, full of adventure and I wouldn’t have asked for another turn of events.
I hope you relate to this article and find it helpful. Watch out for my next blog post on my first semester in college. Spoiler: on my first day, I attended the wrong lecture!