PHD in Computer Science - Machine learning and Robotics
First Name: Lawrence
French host University, Town: University of Paris 8 (University Paris 8 - Vincennes Saint-Denis) - Paris
How would you describe the daily life in France (Accommodation, transport, leisure, food etc)?When you compare it to Kenyan daily life, what would be the main difference in Kenya?
The weather in France during the month of February, March and partly April is winter, this means that the time spend venturing outside is limited. The rooms and classes are warm enough though. The transport system in Paris is excellent with very well coordinated buses, metro and train. To find your way you just need to visit the site (http://ratp.fr/) or use the many printed maps available. This then means that transport is never a problem especially when you buy the “Navigo” ticket for use in your daily travels. The Paris city is partitioned into zones, and thus when you buy a ticket it should be valid for particular zones you will be going to.The first days I had problems identifying the kind of foods to eat, indeed I have a funny story of having bought a pizza from a supermarket and did not know I was suppose to cook it before eating it. I found its taste “strange” and had to throw it away.
A winter day in Paris during the month of February
The food available in the university is very balanced and similar to a large extent to what we have in Kenya, fish, vegetables etc. As a student you are charged about three Euros. The main difference between Kenya and France on the people’s culture that you note is the politenesses of the people and the courtesy. Most people are willing to help you when it comes to directions and such. Football is common and that is what I used to do during my leisure time as well as visiting places. 6What did you miss most while you were studying in France?
I missed my family members so much, although we used to communicate regularly. Kenyan Nyama choma is one thing that I was also missing and the weather in Kenya. At times the temperatures could go up to 2 degrees Celsius which is unheard of in Kenya.
How would you evaluate the quality of the education you receive in France.
In the university the number of PhD holders in many fields is high; this then means that you have a lot of people you could consult on many research issues. I have two supervisors readily available for consultation at any time. The facilities are also superior in most departments.
Has learning French language been difficult?
Before leaving for France I had started learning French, this helped me on the basic French communications skills. I also had friends who were willing to help me in the learning of French. French is not a simple language to learn and a lot of effort is required.
Has this experience in France got some positive impact on your personal and professional life?
Visiting of France has had a number of positive impacts. One of the impacts has been the meeting of different peoples of the world with different cultures and altitudes. The experience of life in a developed country was highly welcome.
Have you got some time to visit France? If so, what is your best souvenir?
Near Notre Dame the 850 yrs old catholic church
The “love bridge” paddocks with names of lovers
A woman sculpture near the Effoil tower
Are you still in contact with people (students, professors, friends) you met in France and who do not stay in Kenya?
Yes, I have very many friends now from around the world and I am in contact with them including my professors who I am still working together with.
If you had 1 minute to convince one young Kenyan student to go to France, what would you tell him?
It is a nice experience. I am going back to France later this year. You have a chance to achieve your academic dreams and meet the people of the world in a fun way.
If you had to help him to prepare his trip, what recommendations would you say?
Please learn French as much as you can. For cold months be ready with warm clothe. Life is not so cheap, be prepared financially I mean.