Jan 24

‘The best part about being back home has got to be the food!’

Denis Odera returned to Kenya after studying at Portsmouth University in the United States. Here is is homecomer story.

Having spent my entire life in Kenya, going to study in Portsmouth was the first time I had been completely away from my family for a long period of time. I had my own identity and there was a sense of freedom. It really does feel amazing coming back home, however the freedom I had is not as it once was.

My family really did miss me and look to spend every second with me after being away for so long. This is not a bad thing at all, in fact I enjoy it! The only problem is that it’s quite difficult to adjust back to being around others constantly and having a home full of loving yet curious parents, as opposed to fun housemates. The sense of freedom has definitely changed.

The language readjustment was not as difficult as I had assumed. I had the chance to speak my home language of Swahili in Portsmouth whenever I was with my Kenyan friends, but this was only on rare occasions. Immediately after I touched down in Kenya, I was greeted with a “Jambo” which means ‘hello’ in Swahili. A few minutes later, I was communicating in Swahili as if I had never left. I guess a native language always sticks with you.

The best part about being back home has got to be the food. The food tastes so much sweeter especially after being away for three years. I’ve begun to appreciate home cooked meals even more than before.

There are some habits and mannerisms that I picked up from my experience in Portsmouth that are hard to let go of when back at home. For example, always assuming that every car I get into is a cab and constantly looking for/at the meter, asking all shop attendants whether they offer student discounts, walking around with my student ID, waiting aimlessly for the uni bus, the list goes on. It’s amazing how these student habits are picked up very easily, yet very hard to let go of after leaving university.

Despite enjoying every minute of being back at home, there are often times I sit and reminisce about all the things the university and the city of Portsmouth itself, had to offer. One of the things I will miss the most is sitting by the seaside and watching the sun set. I will miss the liveliness of Albert Road and the excitement of Guildhall over a weekend, I will actually miss walking to a lecture at 9am and seeing all the grumpy, miserable faces early in the morning. I will miss struggling to find a seat in the library during exam period and looking at all the hard-working students studying for a promising future. I will especially miss the view of the Spinnaker Tower from pretty much anywhere in the city. Portsmouth was my home away from home.

However, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. As much as I love to look back and reminisce, I now look forward to working on my career goals and future plans. With the degree that I now have, my plans are to delve into the tech industry and gain some worthy work experience. The gaming industry has always been a passion, but I plan to widen my knowledge base and learn more about the current state of the tech industry in Kenya.