KAGUNDA Josephine
Josephine, Kenya

French host university, Town : Metz


I set off to France in September 2009 to write my thesis in Applied mathematics, after being awarded a scholarship for a joint thesis between the university of Nairobi and the university of Metz, France,by the French Embassy in Nairobi.


For the last three years, I have been visiting my supervisor who guided me into the world of mathematical biology, dynamical systems application and simulation using scilab, matlab and maple. I benefited from resources at INRIA laboratory in Metz and enjoyed working in an environment that encouraged personal research and exploration. The quiet environment brought out a strong study character in me as I never got bored of searching for knowledge in books, over the net and from journals.
France is a beautiful country of wonderful people, with a clean and safe environment to work and live in. The staff working in the various departments are very efficient, I never even for a single day suffered a lost file or a problem that cannot be solved. In fact, every time I arrive, I would find my file on the table in every office I am scheduled to report. I enjoyed my stay there.

I loved some of the foods French cook, especially fruits, they cook pairs and apples in cakes which amazed me at first then I got used and I missed the cakes when I am in Kenya. The sandwiches and long bread which I ate for dinner and weekends tastes very different from our bread here in Kenya, baked specifically to taste like no other bread. I didn’t  like the lack of choice as I enjoyed rice from day one, till I missed our looked down upon, githeri, ugali with green vegetables and ‘nyama choma’.


French social life is quite different from Kenyans’, which was a little difficult for me. I am used to talking to anybody near me whether in the bus, train or in the office without offence. Once I arrived there, I leant to mind my own business. I leant to do my work independently and only enquiring when necessary. This improved my independence and gave me courage to handle life issues myself.


As a strong Christian, I wondered for the first two weeks if I will even find a church where I can spend my Sunday as it should be. Luckily there were many Christians visiting the residence and directing people to services in the nearby town. This gave me many friends at the Evangelique Eglise de Metz. I still miss the wonderful service and wonderful people who prayed for me when my studies were such a nut to crack. I  loved the French worship songs, which sounded so different, it was so amusing at first as I read the words in English and it sounded so funny. At first I didn’t know why people were looking at me and I was enjoying the song, only the realize my pronunciation of the words was spoiling the song..lol. But later, with some French lessons offered to me by a consultant trainer in France, I improved my French and enjoyed the music and my market errands.


The weather difference between Kenya and France can be an issue for first time travelers. I r found myself wearing very heavy jackets in October and November, only to find December unbearable. The cold dictates one to wear very heavy clothes and boots which we are not used to, and by evening, I feel so tired of the weight on my body and the work for the day. Those days I would miss Nairobi terribly and long to see the sun. At times I would lack sleep for many hours and not understand it was the weather changes. However the rooms have heaters and once there, one enjoys life in the fast world.
At the end of it all, I had some work to submit in June 2012.

The system there is very efficient, on submission, if the work is accepted defense can take place anytime after 8 weeks. And by end of October 2012, after the summer break, my defence had been scheduled for November 23rd. After the defence I  had two weeks to do the corrections and clear from the university and here I am defending my work… Thanks to French embassy and my supervisors.

Dr. Josephine Wairimu K