Fatu Kaba is an international student from Liberia studying peace studies and entrepreneurship.
Photo provided by Fatu Kaba

Kaba Discusses Life as International Student at Manchester

Claire Butler

Manchester University has become a home away from home for many international students including Fatu Kaba, originally from Liberia. She is a senior majoring in peace studies with a minor in entrepreneurship. She is the vice president of the Peace Studies Club, an active member of the African Students Association, and recently signed up for the College of Business Club.

Liberia was the first African country to have a democratically elected female head of state, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. According to Kaba, many Africans believe they have some of the best food and Liberians are great cooks.

“Liberia is very poor but the people are very rich in cultural practices, traditions teachings, and family values” Kaba said.

The switch from Liberia to Manchester has been drastic in many ways, including online shopping, clothing sizes that differ from the African attire that Kaba is used to, and the openness of relationship status between friends and family. “My own ethnic group does not encourage dating or relationships outside marriage,” Kaba said.

In addition to the cold weather, different accents, time-zone adjustment and the constant struggle to figure out if pork is in the dish being served, Kaba has seen many similarities between Liberia and America, which she thinks is due mostly to their intertwined histories.

While many students on campus may not know of Liberia, Kaba also experienced surprises about Indiana. “I had a different perspective of America based on movies and the media,” she said. “But the Manchester campus is extremely beautiful; I really love it”.

“The activities have also been very mind-blowing in ways that expose me to a new way of doing things,” she added.

The college experience is different from what she would have experienced in Liberia. “Most of the research, case studies, field studies, books, and examples are based on events of the USA—so it’s often difficult to relate them to my home due to the social and cultural differences,” Kaba said. 

She is able to experience more freedoms without her family close by; however there are parts about Liberia that she misses. Apart from family and the close-knit community of home, Kaba misses the food and easy access to public transport.

Kaba chose Manchester because not only does it fit her ideal list of diversity, but the international admission counselor was able to communicate and make the students feel welcomed. There were campus clubs she was interested in as well as reasonable fees. The peace studies and Alumni Relations trip to Montgomery, Alabama, in 2019 has been one of her favorite memories at Manchester.

One of the biggest struggles with being an international students is the F1 Visa. Kaba is not allowed to work off campus without specific qualifications. She also misses out on some business opportunities because the student visa only valid while she is in the USA. Transportation to different places has also been a challenge as the only public transportation is the school shuttle.

Kaba loves writing, reading, watching movies, listening to music and hanging out with friends.