Kenya Travel: 6 Misconceptions I had before I Went

January 21, 2015
Kenya Travel: 6 Misconceptions I Had.

Like so many people in the world, I get caught up with stereotypes and misconceptions of people from other cultures. My decision to volunteer in Kenya definitely helped change my mind about Kenyan culture. I went there with my eyes wide shut and with expectations I should not have had.

Each day, my perspective shifted a little more, and after volunteering abroad for three months, I was in awe of the experiences I’d had and the lifelong friends I’d made. Here are some of the things I wish I’d known before my Kenya travel experience:

Kenya Travel: 6 Misconceptions I had before I Went

1. It’s not as strict as people say

The main thing that worried me before my trip to Kenya was that people would judge me for the way I looked. I had heard that Kenya was a conservative place and that I had to dress accordingly. Having been told by certain members of my own family that I mistake my face for a pin cushion, I was sure that people would look down on me because of my piercings and tattoos, especially because Kenya is a religious country.

To my surprise, only about three people lectured me about my piercings and tattoos. In fact, I mostly received compliments! As for the dress code, I had raided my mum’s closet for long dresses, only to see girls wearing mini everything at Kenyan clubs. So ladies, my advice to you is that if you’re going to be staying in a town and not a rural area, you can bring these along.

2. It’s not always hot

Before I left, I thought, “Oh it’s Africa, I’m going to catch a tan and be baking in the sun all day!” It turns out that that’s not true. Kenya is definitely NOT hot all the time.  In many parts of Kenya, it is hot, but in other parts, it rains every day! At night, I literally had to sleep in a hoodie and socks, as did my Kenyan roommates. My advice is to research the town you’re going to be staying in and remember to bring your rain boots. I had to buy a pair when I was out there because my shoes got ruined.

3. People are not sad all of the time

The media make it seem like Africa as a whole is depressing, and that the people are always sad. Not true. Anywhere I travel in the world, I always come back to this same point. The Brits are the most miserable people in the world so who are we to judge other people’s happiness? The majority of Kenyans, or at least the ones I had the pleasure of meeting, are great. They are easy going with warm hearts and that’s something to aspire to.

4. Everyone is not broke

Don’t get me wrong, there are many people who live below the poverty line in Kenya but there are also many people who live below the poverty line in the UK as well. It’s ridiculous to think that because we live in the West that we live better lives than people in Africa.

5. Everyone is not uneducated

This was the biggest shock of all to me. I didn’t think everyone was uneducated, but I didn’t know how much smarter the educated people in Kenya would be. The educated Kenyans I met used words that I hadn’t even heard before. Although English was not their first language, their English vocabulary was top notch. Even I, a university graduate who was born and bred in the UK, had a hard time understanding some of the words they used.

6. Everyone does not live in huts

I shouldn’t laugh, but this one always makes me chuckle. When some people hear Africa, they envision mud huts and the jungle. I didn’t actually think they lived in huts, but I didn’t know where I’d be living. Needless to say, some of the houses I visited during my stay in Kenya were nicer than my house in England, and that isn’t an overstatement.

Kenya is developing quickly, but you will find a a fair number of donkeys and cows casually strolling along the roadside. It’s a bit of a shock at first but you’ll learn to love it.

If you choose to volunteer in Kenya, the country will not disappoint you. Rid your mind of any negative misconceptions and you’ll enjoy every moment of your Kenya travel adventure.

Kenya Travel: 6 Misconceptions I Had


Kenya Travel: 6 Misconceptions I Had before I Went

Related Reading

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Two Days in Nairobi, Kenya
Following Strangers in Kenya
A Day in Nairobi’s Kibera Slums: Seeing Immense Poverty Up Close
A Kenya Safari Fit for a Toddler
On the Fried Deliciousness that is Kenyan Food
Living in Kenya and Feeling the Distance from Home

Have you traveled to Kenya? Email us at to share your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you. Photos by Unsplash. 

About Rochelle Murray

My name is Rochelle Murray, better known as Chelley. I am 23 years old and a graduate in media studies from Nottingham Trent University. I was born and raised in Peterborough. I have just come back from one of the best experiences of my life, volunteering on an ICSE program with Balloon Ventures 

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