Whew, this month flew by! And so much change happened during the month — I straightened my hair for the first time in 3 years, moved to a new apartment in Nairobi, made progress on my writing, and flew back to the US! If you want to see some snippets of my month, I recorded a vlog here, but for the monthly Q&A — which was REALLY good this month, keep on reading!
Hair & Style
What’s TKB’s hair routine?
My son’s hair routine is very low maintenance, like both his mom and dad! Jonathan washes his hair once a week then applies a leave in conditioner, finger combs, and seals it with oil. Once a month or so (aka whenever I remember) we do a full condition and comb through. He has a lot of hair and it’s very curly, so we try to keep fussing with it to a minimum.
What do you do to grow your hair fast?
I don’t do much to my hair, which means I’m not touching it often and manipulating it, which can cause breakage. Because I’m reducing breakage, I retain quite a bit of length.
Get more style and beauty content here.
Graduate School & Academia
How can one get scholarships to study abroad?
Find them and apply! Search Google relentlessly, ask the programs you’re interested in about financial aid resources for international students, and ask people who have studied abroad for tips (I didn’t study abroad as I grew up in the US).
How are you enjoying teaching so far?
I haven’t started teaching yet! I start in mid-August… speaking of, I should probably put together my syllabus.
What was the process like getting back into academia? What has changed for you?
I talk about why I decided to go back in this post! I think deepening my network of Black women with doctorates has made me more confident that there is space in the academy for me, and that I can still do everything I want to do outside the confines of the academy.
How does being a Dr. feel?
It doesn’t feel like anything lol.
What did you do for work while doing your PHD?
I did hair in my apartment, I worked as a research assistant in my department, I was a teaching assistant, I did social media and communications for a research program, I worked as a health educator for a youth non-profit, and I blogged.
What factors did you consider while deciding to take on a Post-doc?
I thought about whether I’d ever want to pursue an academic career and the reality of being a woman out of the workforce for a certain period of time. I knew that if I wanted to keep the door open for a future faculty position I had to do a post doc or proactively engage in some kind of research project since I’d been away from academia for two years already. More on this here.
I am not academically gifted but I have always wanted to pursue a PHD. Is it possible or should I stay in my lane?
I don’t have enough info to answer. It depends why you want to get a PhD and what experiences – professional or research – that you’ve had already. And when you say not academically gifted, are you not a good test taker or do you struggle to understand concepts in your field? Having a high gpa and good test scores isn’t mandatory for PhD acceptance – a couple people on the Cohort Sistas Podcast have talked about how they had really poor GPAs in college. But you’ve also got to be willing to go above and beyond to make sure that you’re prepared for the workload and develop the relationships necessary to have your application even considered.
I just completed my PhD. How do I decide between pursuing a post doc and a humanitarian research job?
Congratulations! What are your priorities? Does one offer more money and is that important to you? Does one offer more publication or presentation opportunities and is that important to you? Does one have a more rigorous work schedule and is that important to you? Thinking about what you want and need out of a job right now might make the decision easier.
Get more school-related content here.
Work, Finances, and Productivity
Could you do a YouTube video on diversifying income streams and attaining financial freedom?
I’ll add that to my video idea list, but I talk about supplemental income streams in my debt-free video, which is my most comprehensive piece of financial content so far!
What do you do for a living?
How I spend the bulk of my labor and how I earn the bulk of my income aren’t exactly synonymous, but I am a historian who studies the history of public health and medicine, a lifestyle blogger, and a non-profit executive director.
Is it worth trying to be an Instagram influencer in 2021?
If you’re willing to do the work and are comfortable with potentially never going viral, because you understand that the parameters of social media algorithms have changed, then absolutely! But if you’re trying to become an influencer because you want free stuff or want to become famous, then that ship has likely sailed.
Is your old camera still available for sale?
Yes it is. It’s a Canon G7x and I’m still accepting offers.
What’s your favorite thing about your job?
Even though I do a variety of different things, my favorite thing about and common thread between all my work is equipping people of color, particularly Black women, with the knowledge, tools, and resources to live a happier, healthier, and more fulfilled life.
How do you balance wanting to earn more while not having the qualifications to justify higher paying positions?
I don’t have this problem as I have the highest degree possible (not bragging, just facts!) but my advice would be to to either get the qualifications or experience necessary to command a higher pay. Education doesn’t always mean going back to school, you can look for an online certification course that can give you a leg up over others to boost your salary.
Advice on students who lack uncertainty about their careers and future?
Take a career test or personality test! I love those things, and have recommended some here. The process of elimination also works – you likely know what you don’t like to or don’t want to do, and finding the commonalities between those might help you figure out what kind of work you like to do, and the career paths that might get you there. Talking to people, whether informally or through more serious informational interviews can also shed a lot of info on different career paths.
What are two of your best time management tips?
Do the most important thing for the day first and focus on one specific task at a time.
How is the Nairobi job market?
I’ve heard that it’s difficult for people to find jobs in Nairobi now.
What financial success have you set up for TKB?
To be honest I haven’t thought about this much but I’m working on opening up his first bank account! Now that I’ll have employee benefits I plan on investigating more into 529 plans and similar options for children.
Find more posts on work, productivity, and finances here.
Home, Living, Travel, & Moving
How do you deal with low shower pressure in Nairobi?
😂 none of the places I lived had a shower pressure issue, so sounds like you gotta talk to your caretaker.
Any affordable dresser recommendations?
In Kenya, our nursery dresser was by Tira Studio and I love their work. In the US, I’m a huge fan of West Elm, IKEA, CB2, Article, Joybird, and Target Furniture.
Will you be selling your furniture from your Nairobi apartment?
How will you maintain two different households in Nairobi & Indiana?
First we made a huge spreadsheet that includes our monthly expenses for both apartments/homes and made sure we could afford everything (though our expenses will fluctuate depending on who is in Nairobi and who is in Indiana and when). We do joint finances/shared bank accounts but are splitting the responsibility of monthly payments with Jonathan being responsible for making sure things in Kenya get paid for and I’m responsible for making sure things in the US get paid for. Circle back in 6 months to see if it’s still working!
What company did you use to ship your household goods to Kenya?
Between the US and Kenya, where would you like to retire?
I don’t even know where I’ll be or want to be in the next 5 years, I haven’t thought about retirement!
Did you need a visa to travel to the US? If yes, how soon did you get a visa appointment?
I’m a US citizen, so I don’t need a visa.
Why are you moving back and forth between America and Kenya? Why not stay in the US?
I enjoy living in Kenya and our family thrives in Kenya.
What informed your decision to move to a new apartment in Nairobi?
We wanted to live closer to Jonathan’s mom and save a bit on rent.
What one word would you use to describe the transition to the US? And why?
Exhilarating. I’m really excited for my professional development and to be teaching, but I’m also ridiculously afraid of everything — how I’ll change as a mom, a wife, a friend. It’s like when you’re going up a roller coaster and right before the drop you know you’re gonna scream your head off the whole way down because it’s going to feel like you’re about to die but you’re also smiling because you know when it’s over you’ll be really proud of yourself for getting on the ride in the first place. That’s how I feel right now lol.
What about the transition to the US are you most excited about?
Going to Target whenever I feel like it!!
How does it feel being a homeowner?
Now that feels like a real adult! Like a rich Aunty. Like you ain’t gotta go home but you gotta get the hell up outta my house. It feels grown. But is already expensive as hell lol.
Did buy an apartment in Kenya? That would be awesome if you did. Either way, congratulations!
Nope, still renting in Kenya. As long as mortgage rates are near 15% and I don’t have a cool $200k laying around we’ll keep renting in Kenya. The housing market just doesn’t make sense from a financial standpoint.
Will you rent out your Nairobi apartment while in the US?
When are you moving back to the US?
I’m already here!
What do you love about living in Kenya?
It’s a slower pace of life that I needed right when it came. And not having to think about racism on a regular basis was nice. Jonathan is also able to pursue his dreams in Kenya in ways he can’t in the US, and it’s nice growing alongside someone who is living out their dreams.
Are you ready for the summer heat in the US?
Am I ready or AM I READY?!! I love the summer. I think even if I move back to Kenya I can’t endure another June-July in Kenya cause it’s unnecessarily cold for the continent. Cold without the promise of snow is foolish lol.
Are there baby Kola’s items you’ll be giving away as you move to the US?
We’re hoping to have another child at some point so are saving our son’s things for then
Will you move with TKB? How will it work without a nanny?
We are moving with our son, but he’s actually coming a bit later to give me time to get settled into a new environment and job. Once he’s here, he’ll likely go to day care like most other kids in America or I might explore getting a nanny/babysitter. Either way it’ll cost a fortune but I never care about work or money more than spending time with my family so it’s important that we’re together.
Are you moving with Jonathan or will he be staying in Kenya?
Jonathan will be splitting his time between the US & Kenya.
Get more home & living content here.
Marriage & Motherhood
Will your son’s education be private school or traditional?
No idea yet.
At what age did you get married?
How do you deal with not getting all your needs from your partner?
I don’t expect him to meet all my needs, no one can. I have other friendships and relationships that fulfill me in ways that he can’t and shouldn’t be expected to.
Do you split bills and expenses 50/50 with Jonathan? My man earns more and wants the 50/50 arrangement
When we got married, we got a joint bank account so now everything of his is mine and everything of mine is his. We don’t think about bills as being split or calculate who’s contributing what – it’s just is there money in the account for this or no? In the year that we lived together before we got married, we never explicitly talked about who would pay for what. If we went out to eat, sometimes he’d pay and sometimes I’d pay. We knew we’d be combining expenses so no one felt like they were draining their account. But he did pay for our dates more than I did.
Do you argue with Jonathan? How do you resolve conflict?
Of course I argue with him! Every couple argues. I used to be a shouter and he used to just want to close the door and lock himself in a room, but when you have a kid, that doesn’t work anymore. Now we know when one of us is catching an attitude, we tend to give each other space until we’re ready to talk about it with a level head. Or one of us with just let it go and buy the other person a candy bar or give an unexpected hug and we’ll keep it moving.
What’s your favorite thing about being a mom?
Right now it’s a toss up between hearing my son laugh when he’s tickled and hearing him repeat words in Igbo or Luo.
Do you want more kids?
Does TKB sleep through the night? Any advice?
I was supposed to do a sleep training blog post and completely forgot! Yes he does, I’ll get it up very soon!
What type of solid foods did you wean your son with and did you wait for his teeth to grow before giving him solids?
We didn’t wait til he had teeth cuz we would’ve been waiting until he was a year old. I’ve listed out his weaning foods here.
Did you experience pain when breastfeeding?
I had a few burning moments but mostly breastfeeding was pain free until he developed teeth.
Any advice for a new breastfeeding mom?
Yes, here’s a whole post with breastfeeding advice!
Get more family motherhood content here.
Personal Thoughts & Advice
What is your go-to comfort food?
Any kind of swallow with okra soup and smoked turkey. Chef’s kiss! Or macaroni & cheese.
Which Kenyan dishes have you learned to cook and which Kenyan food/spices will you miss?
Which Kenyan spices?! BAHAHAHA. Which spices are Kenyan?! No seriously, I wanna know maybe I’m missing something lol. I can cook ugali and sukuma wiki and fried tilapia which are pretty regular staples in our diet, and I know how to make chapati but it’s too labor intensive for me to make it regularly.
What is your nationality?
I’m Nigerian and a naturalized US citizen.
How did you make friends when you moved to Kenya?
I made some friends on social media, others were friends of friends who also happened to be expats, and some were friends or wives of Jonathan’s high school homies. Check out this article about how to make friends in a new city — I actually reread it last week as I prepare to make new friends again.
Have you ever tried therapy? What was your experience like?
I’ve tried therapy but it was just ok. I think doing it virtually for the first time meant that I wasn’t able to develop a relationship of trust with my therapist. I’m planning to start therapy again in person in Indiana once my insurance kicks in.
What would you advise someone about to move to the US to study and hopefully settle there?
I don’t have any advice; I don’t know that experience. Whitney Madueke is a fellow blogger who moved from Nigeria to the US, and she’s talked about her experience — check out her content!
What would you advice someone about choosing to move to London vs Kenya with two kids?
Where to live and raise your kids is such a personal decision. All I can say is think about the lifestyle you want for your family and which place most aligns with that vision.
What are your thoughts on criticism of “black capitalism” e.g. buying black as being inadequate? And the fight between: it uplifts POC communities versus capitalism is still capitalism and exploitative?
What a great question! I’m not anti-capitalist, though I’m anti-billionaires who use their money for dumb ish like going to space. So I see no issue with supporting Black businesses as a form of buying into a capitalist society. What am I earning money for if not to support my fellow people? And by buying black, I not only contribute to Black wealth, I also buy less and spend more intentionally since I’m not throwing money at Amazon.
Could you talk about contraceptives?
Ooh yes!! I took birth control pills for a stint during college, which I feel like made me gain weight. Then I was abstinent for a while and then after getting married, got an IUD called Skyla. Absolutely loved it! The lower hormonal dosage meant little to no side effects and I liked not having to take a daily pill. I also didn’t have any issues using my menstrual cup with it in. Post-baby I’m not on any contraceptives now but using barrier methods during my fertile window. I’ve thought about the copper iud because I’d love to do hormone free but am nervous about having heavier periods. This needs to be a whole post/video though cuz I have more to say!
Don’t forget to check out the Q&A archives, which include tons more advice on a variety of topics.