Across the Mediterranean Sea to a distant Island!
My name is Mkyeku Onesmo Kisanga, originally from the United Republic of Tanzania located in the Eastern Part of Africa, 27 years of age, and a 2nd year psychology student at the University of Central Lancashire in Cyprus. Coming from Tanzania back in 2019 gave me chills as I embarked on a new journey flying across the Mediterranean Sea studying ‘psychology’, a major I hardly knew other than the stereotypes that centred around the name ‘shrink’. I hardly fret or feel anxious since I am a hodophile and travelling is in my nature but residing in a foreign place for four years can be nerve-wracking. I remember being apprehensive as not so many people knew about Cyprus so no one could articulate what I was about to face or encounter and yet I had faith that all would go well. To my surprise after a couple of days and not even weeks, the fear inside my veins subsided and I started feeling at home and getting acquainted with the place. What shocked me was the heat, the temperatures here are excruciatingly hot from 27-35°c and hotter in some parts of the cities. In Tanzania, we only have dry and rainy seasons and it barely gets to 25°c and it corresponds with the weather here despite the high temperatures.
My University is located in Larnaca in Pyla village, a distant city from the capital and the most amazing thing is, that it is in the buffer zone under the UN. The UN’s efficacious effort in bringing world peace and tranquillity is meritorious. Due to the genocide that happened decades ago, there has been a rift between the Turks and Cypriots for years and this is the only area where they co-exist, co-habitat in harmony. Knowing this made me feel at ease where a policy was made to settle two rivals and make peace. The languages spoken are Turkish, English and Greek which is a total plus since I am familiar with Turkish and English. Turkish is a descendant of the Arabic language and so is my lingua Franca ‘Swahili’; words like ‘Merhaba’ in Turkish is ‘Marhaba’ in Swahili which is a greeting. I also got acquainted with Greek which is difficult due to its letters but not impossible and making me a linguist who knows five languages.
The inclusion and diversity that I have longed for were what made me fall in love with the place and people. The Cypriots are down to earth, evoke this sentient feeling that whirls across the country, the ambience is soothing, plus, it is surrounded by the sea. On a gloomy day, one can walk along with the promenade and practice yoga, martial arts, jog or sit by the sand and listen to the slow enticing sounds from the street artists. This was no stranger to me since Tanzania is found along the Indian Ocean and has an Island called Zanzibar and beaches overwhelm the country in general from oceans to seas to rivers and lakes. I hardly felt nostalgic but acclimated with my foreign surroundings sooner than I ever imagined, it seems like I went from an island to another island. I simply was looking for a place that could embrace psychology despite its stereotypes, offer inclusion, intersectionality and interconnectedness rather than bigotry and myopic views. And I found it here and although I still face problems in some areas, it is a step in the right direction.
All in all, the enriched culture and sumptuous delicacies are almost subsequently like the one’s back in Tanzania. We crave spicy foods, rich with a variety of condiments and that I found here. It was sad to hear they do not dance as a policy that resides here while where I come from music and dancing is the heart to the soul.
In school, we are endowed with gruesome statistics and other amazing subjects like forensic psychology, evolutionary psychology and others. I have eight modules this year and I am doing great despite the unprecedented Covid19 prevalent globally. The best part is the university offers free wellbeing services in case anyone is going through a mental breakdown especially during this eerie time of our lives. Currently, we are in lockdown, but I would love to travel to many European countries before I leave so I could have a clear picture of where I could do my masters but should be cost-efficient. I believe knowledge is power and travelling is knowledge.
Travelling abroad also introduced me to volunteerism, where I am a change-maker in many NGO’s like Caritas that deals with asylum seekers, refugees and human trafficked victims; to an organisation called EFPSA where I am the content review responsible for events and has made me envision psychology in a whole different trajectory, it introduced me to amazing psychologists, I managed to make remarkable connections; to other social enterprises around the globe. Being in a European country has opened doors to vast opportunities, where I scaled from being a novice to being familiar with what I am doing.
I have two years left and I can attest to the future being bright and also having accomplished more than I could have ever imagined. I am definitely excelling since I know I am formidable; my future is propitious, and my results will always be auspicious and those are my daily affirmations. And I live to witness them daily.
Author: Mkyeku Onesmo Kisanga
Bachelor’s in Psychology at University of Central Lancashire in Cyprus