You Know You Are a Kenyan in America When You Do These 14 Things

Personal Growth

How does a Kenyan in America behave?

Adjusting to a new culture is..hard

I was born and raised in Kenya but my husband and I immigrated to America three years ago.

The other day I realized that when it comes to adjusting to the American culture, I take the “kicking and screaming” lane: I am ungracious, critical, super sensitive and remarkably adolescent in thought and action.

Kenyan in America - 14 signs you are one! A fun rant on cultural diffferences

(For more info on our Kenyan in American story click here to read our story)

The more I thought about my unpleasant attitudes, the more I realized that some of us tend to pursue our marriage goals the same way.

We start out on a great adventure, filled with ideas, plans and misconceptions.

But a few steps into the journey, we encounter the pain of  dreaming.

And that’s when many engage fight mode – we fight the process, dwell on the pains and angst of it, point fingers;  we become everything but gracious, grown-up, focused, learning.

We struggle to accept that the main part of “success” is what we become in the journey, not what we achieve in the end.

When you are on the throes of change and culture shock, it might feel easier to compare, criticize, day dream.

Whether you are a Kenyan in America or not, I think most of us have a  Jonah  inside us – brooding, unrelenting, furious that our “dreams” didn’t pan out the way we expected.

Do YOU struggle with change?

Here’s a few fun facts about living in a different culture.

You know you are a Kenyan in America when..

1. You expect the store (supermarket) attendant to walk the entire floor, looking for the product you couldn’t  find.

2. You race across pedestrian crossings.

3. Everyone seems to talk into your face (most Americans love eye contact.)

4. You expect the two guys loudly airing their views to settle the argument with bare fists.

5. You think you can jump the red light because the roads are empty (who waits at a red light in the middle of the night!?)

6. You are shell-shocked when a perfect stranger shares the story of their life within two minutes of meeting.

7. Neat lawns make you think about business opportunities – weddings, functions e.t.c

8. You walk into Home Depo looking for burgler-proof doors and windows.

9. You keep breaking down the cost of life and items in Kenya shillings.

10. You go to the barbers and expect a shampoo, hair and beard work, massage, tea/coffee e.t.c – for a single (and cheap) price.

11. You avoid the “police car” even when you’ve done nothing wrong.

12. You want to offer helpful advice to the parents of a child having a meltdown at the toys section.

13. Statements like “Do you know Albert? He’s from Africa too” no longer aggravate you.

14. You like guessing which part of Kenya an African-America “hails” from.


Recently, my friend Jan, shared her perspective as an American who loves Kenya.

Without further ado…

You know you are an American in Kenya when..

1. You consistently step off the curb into traffic forgetting the traffic flow direction.

2. You get that deer in the headlight look at Matatu (public bus) boarding stations.

3. You just want to pay the price marked on the item for sale and be done with it. (Kenyans love a good bargain!)

4. You’ve said Jambo (hello) so often you repeat it on your sleep.

5. You are constantly surrounded by kids who wants to touch you and stare with extended hands.

6. You wonder why in the world traffic is stopped at green lights and proceeds on red lights.

7. You stare at a motorbikes carrying four people and a mattress.

8. You find it unusual that giraffes and lions roam the landscape outside a major city.

9. You cringe every time two Kenyans greet each other with a hand slap that sounds like an explosion.

10. You are longing to return to this beautiful land before your return flight even leaves the tarmac.

Kenyan in America - 14 signs you are one! A fun rant on cultural diffferences


Question – Have you ever lived in a different culture than your own? What did you learn?


Are you an imperfect girl married to an imperfect guy? Wondering how to draw closer to God and your husband? My book Blues to Bliss: Creating Your Happily Ever After in the Early Years might help. Learn how to positively influence your marriage and create the marriage of your dreams, one intentional choice at a time. Start your journey – > Buy the book Amazon  I Barnes & Noble I PDF



  1. “You race across pedestrian crossings.” Do all Kenyans run Ngina?

    This list made my day. Change, yes I struggle, but I am growing with every change. I appreciate it all. I am hoping to travel across continents one day πŸ™‚ I will definitely be racing across the pedestrian crossings hahaha!

    1. πŸ™‚ You know how we literally run across roads/streets in Kenya? (cos of the unwritten code that “drivers have right of way” even on zebra crossings. Totally the opposite here. Pedestrians have right of way. No need to compete with oncoming traffic. Lotsa rules to observe too tho.

      Amen to traveling continents! you’ll love it!

      1. We usually talk about that with my mum. How we have to constantly look over our shoulders even on a pedestrian crossing. We’ll get there one day, where the pedestrian rules πŸ™‚

        Amen πŸ™‚

  2. Too funny. I’m from Ontario, Canada – and have people saying all the time – oh, I know so-and-so from Alberta – do you know him? (they are 1500 miles between the two provinces and 35,000,000 people in the country)

    I think this question is universal – we’re all trying to make connections and find common ground. I actually take this as a compliment…

    1. That’s hilarious Lori. It’s so true what you’ve said – people just want to find common grounds, make connection for the most part. That’s a great way to see things. Thanks so much for coming by and sharing

  3. Great post. I have never been to a different country but want to at some point. I’m sure I’ll have many stories to tell after.

    1. Dan, I believe Leadership speaking will take you around pretty soon! You’ll soon have a lot stories to tell. πŸ™‚

  4. This is a great post! I relate to all of them very well!…I am always bargaining with no.”5. You think you can jump red lights because the roads are empty (who waits at red lights in the middle of the night!?)” Lol…

  5. Dave Arnold says:

    Very funny and thought-provoking. I have been in many different countries, and as much as I try, it’s hard to not stick out. Great post!

    1. Laughing in vernacular, that’s really funny!

  6. I couldn’t imagine living in another country. I’ve gone to Jamaica a few times…while there was much there to enjoy, there were some harsh realities as well. My spouse and I thought about moving there but chickened out.

    I’m not good with change. It’s an area God has been working on in me for a while.

    1. I can only imagine TC. I’ve traveled in the past, but never outside my continent (and never for extended stay!) Change is not easy. Am always amazed at how God calls us to do the things we are least good at πŸ™‚

  7. As a parent of a child from Ethiopia – #13 and #14 are entertaining. We’ve had many discussions (every where) on similar topics.

    1. Wow that’s so awesome to hear DS, I didn’t know you have a precious one from Ethiopia (Kenya borders Ethiopia to the North) So so awesome. Am ure you can come up with a much longer list than I did :). .

      1. He’s definitely precious! We’ve really enjoyed getting to learn about his culture and history. We’ve had him since he was 6 months old (3.5yrs) and we were able to spend about 2 weeks in Ethiopia. We’ve shared quite a bit about it at and look forward to going back as we are adopting again.

  8. “Do you know Albert? He’s from Africa too.” HAHAHA! Oh man, people seriously say that? That’s pretty hilarious. I think I would get really aggravated at that.

    1. Loren some people believe Africa is a small ‘town’ – a place where “everyone knows everyone else”…lol. For them, the idea of “Continent with many different countries” doesn’t compute. And that’s the kindest statement i could write by the way πŸ™‚ Some are incredulous beyond belief!

  9. Hahaha…works well for Nigerians in America πŸ˜‰

    “…the main part of β€œsuccess” is what we become in the journey, not what we achieve in the end.” #Deep

  10. That was a funny list, Ngina. I know I’m a Montanan when I get to the airport gate for the flight back to my hometown and most of the people waiting there look just as bad as I do. I breathe a sigh of relief and think, “Ahhh, I can relax now. I’m back with my own kind – the unfashionable!”

    1. Lol, that’s too funny Barb! I know that comfort level! Doesn’t matter, east or west, home is best!

    2. This is great – my wife is from Wyoming!

      1. Ha – she can probably relate then. I bet the waiting rooms for Wyoming look a lot like the waiting rooms for Montana. πŸ™‚

  11. I love the list. I have traveled across the US and experienced talking to people with totally different backgrounds and ways of thinking than mine. It was great to experience all the different types of people this country is made of. I also love the quote on success.

    1. I tend to believe that America is a melting pot of world cultures..honestly every nation seems to be represented well here πŸ™‚ It’s such an awesome land, blessed of God and very unique. Am glad you’ve gotten around and experienced that. Thanks so much for reading.

  12. I always love to get your perspective. It helps alter mine.

    ‘We struggle to accept that the main part of β€œsuccess” is what we become in the journey, not what we achieve in the end.” That quote is off the hook, please tweet it and I’ll retweet it, (still learning you know.)

    The closest I’ve come to anything like your list was in Mexico. It seems the men always mistake my Italian wife for Hispanic and take it rather personally I’m afraid!

    1. That is so hilarious Floyd!
      Funny thing my husband is much better at differentiating ethnic backgrounds. I can’t count the number of times I’ve said ” hey, listen to those guys speaking fluent German” and he’ll say “no, they are Hispanic” πŸ™‚

      I’ll definitely tweet that quote, glad it has blessed you. I think you are doing good on Twitter! Thanks so much for coming by, I appreciate you.

  13. Hehehehe…hilarious list…thanks for the comment about the journey being more rewarding than the destination…it resonates major with the project I am working on. Keep writing.

    1. Thanks Lance. I know you have tonnes of experience, living in (and married to!) a new culture yourself πŸ™‚ Glad you resonate with that thought. I think once we figure that out, the journey becomes way easier. Thanks so much for reading.

  14. I’ve only lived in California. The Los Angeles to be precise. I’ve lived in different suburbs in the LA area but nonetheless, always within an hour of LA. But I love traveling and I love immersing myself in other cultures. It’s one of my favorite things in the world.

    1. Wow Fawn, when I grow up I want to be just like you! lol.

      I honestly thought I like discovering and immersing myself in new cultures..but turns out that was just in my
      One of the things I struggle with is the weather in East coast – humid summers, frozen winters (Kenya has tropical weather). Oh well, atleast now i know where I need to change πŸ™‚ Thanks so much for reading and sharing

      1. South East Texas is fairly tropical…hot humid summers, and relatively mild (especially this year) winters.

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