For most people coming to university, homesickness is something that can be hard to deal with… but what if your home is more than 10,000 miles away?
Duke Menango, who is on the International Journalism degree course at JMU, is from the South Pacific island of New Caledonia, which is just about as far away from Liverpool as you can get. He has quite possibly travelled the furthest of anyone studying in Liverpool this year.
It is a place where people live their lives in a very different way. Although advanced mobile phones, high definition TVs and multi-touch screen gadgets are well known over there, going out fishing using the harpoon is not something we are accustomed to in the UK.
For those who don’t know, New Caledonia is a group of islands located east of Australia. This French overseas territory is almost 14 times smaller than the United Kingdom and inhabited by less than a quarter of a million people.
Duke said: “We have the chance to enjoy both the modern life and our traditional way of life. We kept our way of life and somehow adapted it to what the western culture and civilization brought to our tiny rock called New Caledonia.”
Although the change of pace was vast, Duke very quickly assimilated in Liverpool. Despite the fact that he has been living in the city for just over a month, he is already a key player in JMU volleyball team and he dominated the floor when JMU defeated Liverpool University in their first pre-season friendly game.
Liverpool wasn’t just a random choice. Duke’s intention is to work for one of local TV stations back in New Caledonia and he was impressed with the course on offer at JMU. To be a journalist back at home, he needs to have qualifications with European standards. He said: “I wanted to get a degree in international journalism and improve my English skills at the same time.”
To begin the journey into the world of higher education in Liverpool, he started off in his home town Mare, from where he had to fly to Noumea, the capital of the New Caledonia, and 22 hours later Duke finally landed in Liverpool after changes in Tokyo, Paris and Amsterdam.
Duke’s father, Theo, always shared his passion for music with all his family. Their band is well-known in New Caledonia and Duke remembers one gig where 20,000 people came to their concert, which is double the capacity of the Echo Arena in Liverpool.
Although Duke has settled well in Liverpool so far, he is missing his family back home, though he does not expect to travel back to New Caledonia until the end of his three-year degree course at JMU.