I come from Nairobi which happens to be Kenya’s capital. It is the biggest city boasting of high number of industries, modern building infrastructures and one of the cities in the world with a national park within it. Because of the industries and many businesses taking place, people leave the rural areas to come to the city in search of greener pastures. Eugene comes from Kisumu, formerly known as Port Florence, a Kenyan inland port city on the shores of Lake Victoria. The city serves as an administrative and economic center for the larger part of Western Kenya. The cities are different in size, population and infrastructure but there are things they have in common. You will not miss some cobblers and vendors on the streets, clothes and shoes spread down in sections of the street for sale and glittering food stalls in every corner. At any moment and time there are always lots of people moving up and about. The hum and buzz in the cities is real and hard to forget.
There is a huge difference between cities in Norway and the ones we are from. Most streets have fewer people on them while others barely have anyone. Norway has a population of over 5million while Nairobi alone is home to over 6million people.
We come from a society where when walking on the streets a stranger going in the same direction can join you and, in the process, you have a conversation. A person sitting next to you in the bus will just start a random conversation about fashion, politics, economy or the latest scandal in the country. Then you won’t miss that one person talking on the phone so loudly that you all feel like you are part of the conversation. Occasionally hawkers will come to sell merchandise through matatu windows or even get inside the bus to sell stuff. They will mostly sell quick take aways like candy, soda, boiled maize (corn), roasted potatoes, sausages, water, biscuits, hankies, padlocks and so on. If you are lucky or unlucky, you will catch someone preaching in the buses. A conductor will collect money from the passengers. This is the person you will let know where you will alight from. He/she informs the driver when and where to pick and drop off passengers.
In Norway, transportation system is interesting: ) In case you don’t know how to get to a particular place, you don’t have to ask anyone. There is an App that you can use to find what train, tram or bus to take. The App even indicates how much time one will take. At the stations, there are screens that are hard to miss which display routes. Most of the trains, trams and buses also have screens which show different stops. When you need to alight, all you do is press a stop button. You get into a train and you’d be forgiven to think that you are in the library, save for a few random muted chuckles.
Most things in Norway are mechanized and computerized. In most offices you have to make prior appointments online to receive a service. We got surprised when we realized that one needed to use a card or to insert some coins into a machine for the public toilet/washroom door to open while in Kenya, there is always a person who collects money and gives you the key or just let you in.
Again here, if you want to buy vegetables, everything is available in the stores, items have price tags so all you need to do is pick what you want and pay for it at the cashier. In some places, they will ask if you want a plastic bag and a receipt, in some places, they won’t. Back in Kenya, things are different. There are open-air markets and big stores as well. In the open-air markets there are many sellers selling the same or different things. When you go to buy something, you will have to talk to the sellers, most times you will bargain for almost everything you want to buy. Vendors will call you out and advertise their merchandise. Everyone has their own prices.
Social interaction level is somewhat different between the two countries probably because of the different systems and societal structures that are in place. One of the interesting aspects of being youth delegates is the opportunity to work in a new place with a culture totally different from our own. It is fun and exciting.
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