By MICHAEL BONAYA
Back in 2019, I was planning to travel to Europe for a Master’s degree. As I looked for vlogs of the various universities on YouTube, I discovered a female Kenyan vlogger by the name Esther Sabina, whose adventurous videos about Cyprus and the University of Nicosia helped me make my decision to study there.
When I finally made it to Cyprus in January 2020, I looked her up on social media and after exchanging a few texts on Instagram, she invited me to a party where there were other Kenyans and Africans. When I met her, she was just as sanguine and energetic as I had imagined based on her vlogs. At the party I learned that she was studying for her Master’s in Digital Media and Communication.
Considering that I have always wanted to take up vlogging but felt that I did not know enough about the art-form, I requested her to do an interview with me so that she could share details about her passion for travel-vlogging with people who might be curious about what it entails.
She agreed to the interview which was conducted in March 2021 via an email questionnaire due to the fact that she was in Malta, Greece for a student internship, while I am in Nairobi, Kenya.
MB: Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your personal background?
ES: I was born and raised in Mombasa. I went to school in Mombasa (nursery to university), being the last born my parents didn't want me to travel far for school. I don't know what changed when they decided to ship me to Cyprus for my Master's degree.
MB: What did you study in university?
ES: I recently finished my master program at the University of Nicosia in Cyprus, I pursued Digital Media and Communication. I did my bachelor degree in Kenya at the Technical University of Mombasa.
MB: How did you become a digital creative?
ES: After I finished my bachelor degree, I got a one year internship at an NGO based in Nakuru. So after the internship I couldn't get a job and I was bored staying at home. I figured I should start a YouTube channel because I didn't want to forget how to edit YouTube videos. This was my motivation then however my goal has changed now because I mostly do travel and lifestyle content.
MB: How do you find interesting things to do and places to visit when you're in a new city?
ES: Before travelling to a new country or even city, I do my research online. There are several blogs that highlight touristic things to do in a city/country. Also I am a part of several travel Facebook groups where people recommend things to do in certain places. In as much as I am a content creator, I consume content as well so I watch a lot of travel vlogs on YouTube - it's a great place to get recommendations from real people.
MB: What's the craziest thing that you've experienced as a travel vlogger?
ES: When I relocated to Cyprus to study for my master program, I decided to do skydiving. This was actually a Facebook event that I saw and I decided to sign up. I remember my dad telling me to call him immediately when I was done skydiving, he was scared for me considering someone had died at the Diani Skydive in Kenya. Luckily things went well considering that I am doing this interview with you now!
MB: What inspired you to start vlogging?
ES: Well before my main reason was to practice my video editing skills but I have grown since then because my content has evolved to travel and lifestyle. I have been to 6 (Kenya, Rwanda, Cyprus, Poland, Germany, Malta) countries so far and I am hoping to travel more and create more travel content.
MB: Are there any unique challenges to being a solo female traveller?
ES: There are so many challenges of course...being a solo female traveller you need to know whether the country you are travelling to is safe. I remember when I was travelling to Poland, I didn't realise I would arrive at midnight considering my main aim was to get a cheap flight. So I get to Poland and it's extremely cold considering I am from Mombasa so I am not used to freezing. I ordered a taxi and the taxi driver could not speak English, language barrier is such a problem in that country. So I use google translate to communicate and this guy drops me 100 metres away from my destination. I had two bags to drag plus my backpack in the middle of the night. I was scared but luckily I was able to find my hostel and nothing happened. Being a woman you have to be careful not to get kidnapped or even raped, you have to be aware of your surroundings at all times.
MB: How has Covid affected you as a travel vlogger?
ES: COVID ruined everyone's plans! Last year I had planned to travel to Czech Republic, Hungary and Lithuania however when COVID struck these countries closed their borders. At the time I was doing an Erasmus internship in Poland so even for me I was basically stuck in Poland. Luckily the ambassador of Cyprus in Poland helped me get repatriated to Cyprus. At the moment the freedom of travel isn't as it was before, you have to get the covid test before you travel which is quite a hustle, you need to research on travel corridors of a particular country otherwise you won't be allowed in, also let's not forget the fact that airlines cancel tickets even an hour to flying! In some countries you have to pay a lot of money for the covid test so I prefer to stay put until I get the vaccination or until the situation gets better.
Esther is currently participating in an academic internship in the city of Malta in Greece, and exploring when she can, regularly vlogging her travels for her growing YouTube audience. We wish her all the best as she continues to serve up original content.
To see Esther’s travel vlogs on YouTube, search “Esther Sabina” and enjoy being taken to a new and exciting destination in every video. Or click this link to go to her channel >> https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-NRs2O0Utc0Pp6hUNsWjTw