I was having a conversation recently with a new friend and we considered the possibility of meeting up for lunch or dinner sometime soon. For some reason, I just assumed she lived in London. And then she corrected me saying she lived in Cambridge! At that, I happily blurted out “Oh Cambridge, my first love!“.

Well, not like my first romantic love (obviously!), but in terms of cities and towns in the UK, Cambridge holds a special place in my heart. It provided my first exposure to life in the UK and taught me essential life lessons. The rather brief nine months spent there obtaining my LL.M degree will forever have some of my finest memories.

This past weekend, I had cause to think about Cambridge again, and almost held my stomach in a fit of laughter. You see, a friend was visiting us this weekend. And then on my book shelf, she spotted a picture of my LL.M graduation – kneeling with hands together as if in prayer mode. She burst out, “why do you have to kneel for graduation. what nonsense!“. And on and on she went. Tee chipped in “Ah it’s Cambridge tradition. You have to kneel, and then some latin words are recited over your head. Plus no personal cameras are allowed during this ceremony. You can only obtain the official photo if you want it“.

Her continuous talk and reaction was hilarious. I couldn’t help laughing! She was perplexed. And then to crown it all, her 10 year old daughter said “Mum if I go to Cambridge, I’d have to kneel?“. Her mum replied “Please you’d go to Harvard. This is so rigid“.

You’d recall that in this post about my culture shock to the Yoruba kneeling culture – I’d referred to this Cambridge tradition of kneeling.

It’s interesting that she felt this way. Because it is this same history and tradition of Cambridge, that many absolutely love and long for the experience.

For me, it was absolutely worth it – considering the fact that I didn’t think I’d ever get the opportunity. Growing up, Cambridge seemed like an impossibility. I perhaps didn’t even know it was a school. It seemed like the highest level of accomplishment, as every time I claimed I had to study (perhaps instead of doing house chores), my mum would ask if I was studying for Cambridge.

I also didn’t initially quite get the fascination. Harvard Law, I was more familiar with (thanks to American legal TV!). And to obtain a degree from Harvard was my dream. Simply because, Harvard! But at the point I was considering a master’s degree, Tee was more concerned about his future relationship – and so being in the UK steered me to look at UK universities. If I couldn’t go to Harvard, then I had to consider top UK options. Cambridge and Oxford – popularly known as Oxbridge.

For some reason, and in the course of research, I connected more with Cambridge. I liked the fact that they had a traditional LL.M degree, as opposed to the Oxford Master of Laws which is called a BCL. I must also say that the Cambridge application process seemed much smoother for me. I channeled my energy into this more and so no surprises when I didn’t get into Oxford!But I did get into Cambridge!

My admission email came in sometime in April 2012.  Ah, one hurdle crossed. Funding was the next big and major thing. No way I could afford to pay the fees. I’d applied for every eligible scholarship – most of which give feedback by June. By middle of June, I’d started to give up on my Cambridge dream and had resigned to being an alumnus from the London School of Economics (LSE) which had been my third choice, and I had been offered a full scholarship.

But I still had slight hope on the Cambridge Commonwealth Scholarship. Most of the people I knew who had gone on to Cambridge had been recipients of this scholarship which used to be awarded to quite a number of people. But with budget cuts, the number reduced drastically each year. By 2012, I understood that only 20 recipients were to be selected worldwide. What was my chance of making the 20? My faith took a hit, when I was further informed that all 20 candidates had been selected, and I was not one of them. But the silver lining, was that I was top on the waiting list and should anyone decline the scholarship I stood a huge chance.

Ofcourse the approach of my prayers tilted – ‘Dear God, let someone decline their scholarship. Let them have multiple offers and decide to go elsewhere‘. Even while I prayed this prayer, I’d think, why would anyone decline? Crazy times.

But God did it! And on July 27, 2013, when all offers should have been accepted, I got an email that I’d been awarded the full commonwealth scholarship for my LL.M starting in September.  I’m unable to put my feelings into words. The funds covered my tuition, monthly maintenance, air flight tickets to and fro, and even some money for change of clothes to suit the temperate weather! Essentially, I just had to appear in Cambridge.  It felt surreal. It’s been 5 years now but still does feel surreal when I think about it.  I have no idea if someone had declined their offer, but I honestly didn’t care.

I wrote to LSE explaining that I had to turn down the full scholarship. And when they asked why I replied ‘I’d be going to Cambridge as I’ve been offered a full scholarship‘.  No further questions were asked. Even they understood, that Cambridge was Cambridge. Undisputed. In that moment, I thought of the fact that by declining the LSE, someone’s prayers may have been answered. Someone on the waiting list may have been given a lifetime opportunity. I really prayed it was one who deserved it.

The next few months were a whirl wind of activities, as a lot of deadlines were fast approaching. Filling in loads of forms and sending these to the University and the faculty, sorting accommodation, medical check ups and appointments, visa application. This last bit made me so nervous – as I’d heard the tale of someone whose visa got refused. Even after he was offered a full scholarship!

It all came through for me. I got my visa. The Cambridge Trust booked my tickets. I packed up two suitcases – mostly filled with Nigerian food. And on the 26th of September 2012, I headed out to the airport. I cried, my mum cried, my siblings cried. It was my first ever flight out of Nigeria, and I really couldn’t wait to see what Cambridge had in store!

Till today, every time I get asked  what my greatest accomplishment is, I often say it’s attending Cambridge on a full scholarship. It may seem trivial. But the back end story is one that I’d never be able to put into words. It’s one that changed my life completely. It’s one of faith. It’s a story that someday I hope I’m able to replicate for someone else.

Love, 

Kachee… Xx

pS: I started of writing this post as a fun and easy one about the things I loved about Cambridge. But the post took a life of its own and ended up being about the back story. I had to hold back my tears. But I hope it encourages someone. And I’ll still do a follow up post (with pictures!) as initially planned about my time and experience in Cambs!

ppS: My scholarship was the Commonwealth SharedScholarship, an initiative between the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission and a number of UK universities (in my case, Cambridge) to support citizens of commonwealth countries who would otherise be unable to attend university in the UK. See full details here.


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50 Comments

  1. Anjola Ogunsanwo

    July 24, 2017 at 09:36

    lol I was actually going to say ‘err where’s part two?’ Until i saw ‘ps’ anyway I’ll be waiting.😆😆😆😆 And the suitcase packed with mostly food though 😩😩😂 Also, I didn’t know people could be denied visas when you have admission and moreso a full scholarship. Oh wow

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      July 24, 2017 at 10:34

      Hahaha! I had you in mind when I was writing this. I’ll def bring the part 2 really soon. Didn’t want the post to be super long. Girl, the food I packed lasted me the entire year 😊. It’s rare to be denied a visa tbh, but it’s happened a couple of times.

      Reply
      • Yemisi

        July 24, 2017 at 11:25

        The entire year! Wawu! How much stuff did you pack! 😂😂

        Reply
        • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

          July 25, 2017 at 15:24

          Girl! Properly wrapped in newspaper and all. It was a lot. Maybe a bit too much, but I wasn’t taking chances.

          Reply
  2. Nifesimi Laniyan

    July 24, 2017 at 09:48

    Thank you so much! Just the encouragement I needed this morning

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      July 25, 2017 at 15:23

      So so glad it came in handy!

      Reply
  3. Yvonne

    July 24, 2017 at 10:39

    Thank you for encouraging indeed our dreams are valid.I want to go do my PhD abroad was almost giving up on applying.

    Reply
  4. 'Dara

    July 24, 2017 at 10:41

    Awww. Your Cambridge story is a miracle story. Waiting for the second part

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      July 25, 2017 at 15:23

      I’ll have that up shortly! It’s such a miracle I’d never stop thanking God for.

      Reply
  5. Yemisi

    July 24, 2017 at 11:24

    Oh wow! I teared up a little. Lol.This is such an amazing story of faith. Gosh it must have been so hard to hold on when it seemed like it wasn’t going to work out. This is a reminder that we can and should hold on to our faith especially when things seem to be going awry. I love this post so much Kachee, thanks for sharing!Waiting for part 2 like! 😊

    Reply
  6. Debs

    July 24, 2017 at 11:50

    Wow!!! This made my back hair stood up…I’m inspired, Kachee.

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      July 25, 2017 at 15:23

      Glad it had an impact Debs!!

      Reply
  7. Demilade

    July 24, 2017 at 12:07

    Reading your Cambridge story really moved me Kachee! It’s so inspiring and it’s a great reminder of how anything is truly possible. I’m sure when you heard the 20 scholarship recipients had been chosen you were really deflated but just look at God! This post is honestly just what I need on this Monday morning, so encouraging. xxCoco Bella Blog

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      July 24, 2017 at 14:16

      I was way more than deflated! But God came through honestly. Thanks Demi!

      Reply
  8. Ijeoma Ucheibe

    July 24, 2017 at 15:01

    Kachee!!!

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      July 25, 2017 at 15:23

      IJ!!! Looool!

      Reply
  9. Dee Olateru

    July 24, 2017 at 15:32

    Aww, I love it, thanks for sharing your story! It is a big deal and it is so encouraging!!! I remember exactly how I felt when I got the letter about full funding (+ a stipend) for my Master’s degree and I remember how much heart I put into writing my thank you letter to my benefactors. Heck, I still have the letter. It might not be a big deal to them, but in many ways acts of generosity such as these have changed the course of several lives (mine included). We need to read these stories of triumph more often 🙂 . But the kneeling part tho…. lol!!! You’re a brainee/efiko on another level o! *bow down*

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      July 25, 2017 at 15:22

      I don’t love to hear your story! We’d find a way to get it out 😁😁😉

      Reply
  10. Bubu Green

    July 24, 2017 at 20:22

    Awwww. Beautiful story. Your story just strengthened my faith as I’m about to make a big decision on a huge step with same circumstances you shared. http://www.bubusboulevard.com

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      July 25, 2017 at 15:22

      Awww Bubs. Keep the Faith!!

      Reply
  11. Aisha

    July 25, 2017 at 04:48

    Gotta drop my G card a little (just a lil) as this made me teary eyed. Especially as I’m looking forward to God coming through for me too. SighOn a funny note, why do Nigerian parents ask that “are you reading for Cambridge?” question?? Loool my mum still does if she sees me reading anything with so much passion even if it’s magazines. That part made me laugh 😂😂😂😂

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      July 25, 2017 at 15:22

      Loool @ drop your G card. 😂. I pray God comes through for you sis. Nigerian parents are on another level!

      Reply
  12. Abby

    July 25, 2017 at 07:33

    I sure needed to read this, a reminder that dreams do come true.Thank you so much for sharing Sis. Xx

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      July 25, 2017 at 15:21

      They do! Our dreams are valid. 💓

      Reply
  13. Bababi

    July 25, 2017 at 08:02

    I can definitely feel the surrealism of the story. I’m also happy for the person who would have gotten the LSE scholarship when you turned it down.

    Reply
  14. Bababi

    July 25, 2017 at 08:12

    Oh and the visa part….mtsheeeewww i actually detest the UK because they denied me a visa to attend my graduation. I had my masters degree 2012-2013 but the actual graduation ceremony was in March 2014. My visa at the time would have expired at the end of Feb 2014. So I returned to Nigeria beginning of Feb to re-apply for a new Visa to be able to attend my graduation ceremony and I was denied.Chai the thing peppered my body well well. You see, I had missed attending my graduation ceremony for my bachelors degree. So, I was looking forward to attending my Masters graduation and I missed that too. Now the only proofs that I have to having Bachelors and Masters degrees are my certificates….NO PICTURES WHATSOEVER! I’m still so pained.

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      July 25, 2017 at 08:21

      This is actually so annoying! And I know they do it a lot to many people especially those applying to attend graduation after masters is over. I’m so sorry….

      Reply
  15. Tracy Nwokoma

    July 25, 2017 at 18:10

    Ahhh! What an inspiring post! You achieved no small feat and its something to be proud of. Two of my friends currently go there, and they love it as well. Hope to visit soon. xxthoughtsbytrey.wordpress.com

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      July 26, 2017 at 16:41

      It’s a lovely place – and undergrads have such a great time. My LL.M was way too short at 9 months. I’d have loved to spend some more time there.

      Reply
  16. Prossie N

    July 26, 2017 at 09:18

    Hi Kachi,this story brought back memories of my own struggle to get into Cambridge two years ago! It is a story of pain but a story of triumph too. In brief, in 2014, I was admitted to Cambridge and reserved for the Commonwealth Shared. No one turned down their place so I had no funding and had to watch the dream go down. In 2015, I was again admitted to Cambridge and once again reserved for the Commonwealth Shared. Once again, no one turned down their place and I was left at the cross roads. But you know my father in heaven has all things sorted out in his best timing. 29th September 2015, I got off the bus at Parkside, laden with 2 bags, countless dreams and a bright future! I was finally in Cambridge courtesy of another full scholarship. Oh, I tell of that story with so much pride. Cambridge has been my biggest achievement todate!

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      July 26, 2017 at 16:40

      Awwww! This is amazing. I just remembered Park Side!! I’d love to connect with you if you don’t mind, and maybe you could share your story someday.

      Reply
      • Prossie N

        July 27, 2017 at 08:02

        Absolutely Kachee.

        Reply
    • Olatanye Toyin Aluko

      July 28, 2017 at 21:18

      God is ever faithful. Please, do you mind sharing the name of the scholarship?

      Reply
      • Prossie N

        July 29, 2017 at 19:14

        Hello, it was the Chevening Scholarship.

        Reply
  17. Omolade Ibikunle

    July 26, 2017 at 09:44

    this post is soooo inspiring. Weldone Kachi. You deserve it

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      July 26, 2017 at 16:39

      Thank you so much Omolade! Grateful to God.

      Reply
  18. ADAORA NWAJIAKU

    July 26, 2017 at 10:27

    “I wrote to LSE explaining that I had to turn down the full scholarship. And when they asked why I replied ‘I’d be going to Cambridge as I’ve been offered a full scholarship’. No further questions were asked. Even they understood, that Cambridge was Cambridge. Undisputed.”- THIS MADE ME LAUGH.”In that moment, I thought of the fact that by declining the LSE, someone’s prayers may have been answered. Someone on the waiting list may have been given a lifetime opportunity. I really prayed it was one who deserved it.”THIS GAVE ME GOOSE PIMPLES.I’ve always admired and respected you, Kachi. To more accomplishments. Love.

    Reply
  19. Vivian AF

    July 26, 2017 at 15:43

    This is really beautiful, Kachi. I’m happy that you experienced the almighty Cambridge. Now thinking if I want to keep going on with formal education. So inspired!Love and Light,Vivwww.thealaroro.com

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      July 26, 2017 at 16:39

      Thnk you Viv. I feel you. Sometimes I think if I want a PhD. Lol!

      Reply
  20. Grace Smart

    July 27, 2017 at 11:41

    You know, God is great! That part of you leaving LSE being an answer to someone else’s prayers got me.www.liveinibadan.blogspot.com

    Reply
  21. Ufuoma

    July 27, 2017 at 16:16

    Ah, amazing! What a testimony, Kachee. God really does come through for His own. Glad He opened that door for you. You put in work and God honored it. This was really beautiful and inspiring to read.And yes, please blog about what it was like to be in Cambridge. What were your classmates like? Sociable, serious or a mix of both? Was it what you were expecting? Share, share, share! I’ll love to read about it.www.theufuoma.comtravel lifestyle passion

    Reply
  22. Olatanye Toyin Aluko

    July 28, 2017 at 21:16

    Very inspiring. This testimony has just motivated me not to give up just yet.

    Reply
  23. chinelo onwuta

    July 29, 2017 at 22:50

    This story brought tears to my eyes. I’m so proud of what you have done for yourself. Somewhere in my head, I still have this dream of studying abroad it would be totally amazing.Thanks for sharing again.

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      July 30, 2017 at 08:11

      Thanks Hun! You have absolutely everything it takes. So if you want to, you should totally consider it!

      Reply
  24. RuthsTravel:Because I Believe

    September 14, 2017 at 21:52

    Oh! Kachee. I’ve read bits of this story here and there and just like a number of your posts, I laughed at some points and just she’d tears of joy and gratitude at some point. I don’t even want to imagine what that might have felt like for you. I can’t imagine how surreal; I mean this is THEEEE Cambridge and God just had it worked out. Such a lovely thought you had that by declining the LSE scholarship, someone else could have gotten a chance. You’re such a sweetheart and a beautiful fairytale come true!.becauseibelieveblog.com

    Reply
  25. Bidy Ibata

    October 12, 2017 at 17:12

    Your testimony just made me cry, I can’t even explain why, but it’s just a beautiful story that should inspire a lot more young africans. I don’t even know you, but I am so proud of you for accomplishing all these!Since yesterday, I am just stuck on your blog, trying to read all that my awfull internet connection allows me to donwload (I am in Brazzaville, Congo, Central Africa).Thanks for this fantastic blog!

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      October 12, 2017 at 19:34

      Awww this totally made my evening. Thank you so much Bidy for your lovely words. Really appreciate! ❤️

      Reply
  26. Unravelling Nigeria

    December 8, 2017 at 15:47

    This made me smile. Well done and it can never be trivial.

    Reply
  27. Sophia Acquah

    September 25, 2020 at 13:14

    I chanced on this piece when I was applying for scholarships- it gave me hope from April 2019. Fast forward- I got my commonwealth scholarship to Cambridge to study for a masters in African Studies! Your story is exactly my 6 years down the lane! I read it whenever I want to reflect on my journey! It is SURREAL!!! I’m eternally grateful to God. It’s a shame I haven’t graduated yet due to COVID but I’d wait years to go through the ritual than never!!! Kachee’s story replayed🙏🏽😘

    Reply
    • Kachi

      September 25, 2020 at 13:50

      This is such a wonderful message to receive! It’s so funny because just today I was wearing my Cambridge hoodie and thinking about the journey. I’m so happy for you! My very best wishes for graduation and the future! x

      Reply

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