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Alumna Florence Ryan (Law, Grey College, 2016-19) is currently cycling 13,000km from Cairo to Cape Town in the adventure of a lifetime. We explore what led her to this point.

Florence Ryan graduated from Durham after completing a Law degree, with thoughts to continue her journey into the legal profession after a break to explore the world. It seems the universe had other plans for her, however.

In early 2020, Covid-19 outbreaks erupted, forcing many countries around the world into sustained lockdowns. Alongside a switch to remote methods of working and limited social contact with others, Flo found that law firms stopped accepting applications from those seeking to develop their careers. In parallel, through friends who had been awarded training contracts before lockdowns, she was hearing all about how hard, and in some cases miserable, their experiences were.

The impact of this on her life direction was far-reaching. Forced by circumstances to ‘pivot’ her trajectory and vision, Flo turned to a skill she had slowly developed since childhood - making videos.

Developing a new direction

Flo has been making her own videos since she was about 12 years old. She filmed the major to the mundane in a self-taught hobby that quickly developed into a passion. By the time she arrived at Durham, she had her own YouTube channel and began to produce weekly videos of her own experiences of being at university over the course of her final two years of studying. She never intentionally promoted these to the public, as they were produced more for herself and family and friends than anyone else, but it didn’t take long for her work to start picking up views.

One day in her final year, as she was in Grey College’s bar during Freshers’ Week, she was approached by two girls who recognised her from her videos. They told her how much her videos had inspired them to come to Durham. Even her friends who were featured in her videos were being recognised!

She remembered this first taste of realising that she was having a real-life impact on others when reevaluating her choices during lockdown. And it led her to consciously pursue making videos as a career.

Investing in a new career

Flo’s new career direction was a smart move. Video producing can be done anywhere in the world, with much less need for a traditional office set-up - ideal for the lockdown scenario in 2020.

She decided to go freelance, making online videos for a growing client base. Throughout the pandemic, she focused on developing her video techniques and skillset, such as script writing, sound design, and investing in better equipment to shoot and produce higher quality videos. She discovered other creative professionals and quickly built a creative community around her.

Gradually, she was able to embrace becoming a filmmaker as a lifestyle choice and support herself fully through her own YouTube videos and Patreon supporters, rather than for clients.

An evolution into adventures

Flo comes from a multi-cultural background. Her mother is Indian and her father is British-French. She has grown up in a variety of countries, including Germany, India, Saudi Arabia and Senegal. Having never actually lived in the UK, coming to Durham to study was an adventure for her!

Whilst at Durham, she participated in sport at college and University level, although she never really considered adventures on the scale of current Project Africa. The idea to take on the challenge of cycling 13,000km from the top to the bottom of the African continent came from a friend she made through her creative community networking.

Project Africa

By her own admission, Flo is not a pro-cyclist. So why is she documenting such a massive undertaking? Flo explains: “As a kid, I dreamt of going on adventures and a part of it came from books and TV. As I grew older, I met real-life people who had amazing adventures around the world, including some YouTubers. I decided that one day I was going to go on a big adventure as well.

“I did lots of different sports growing up, but I definitely wasn’t a pro-cyclist! I rode a bike maybe once a year in the summer as a fun activity. So I threw myself in at the deep end, going on a mini adventure (616km) in France. Despite all the mistakes I made and obstacles I faced, I found that I absolutely loved it. I got to see parts of France that were off the beaten track, and I found mental clarity being present and in the outdoors.”

To Flo, Project Africa is challenging her to push her limits in an epic journey of self-discovery. It is also allowing her to interact with other cultures, countries, people, histories and languages, and document her experiences for her YouTube and social media followers. Furthermore, she is relishing living a less complicated life, reverting to catering to her basic human needs and living more nomadically.

“Africa is a continent I am fascinated by and I want to see it in the most unique way. Walking is too slow for me, but driving isn’t immersive enough, so cycling is the perfect in-between. It’s still a physical challenge but I can look back and say ‘I did all that’ and feel proud of my achievements. I want to experience a taste of the life of our nomadic ancestors. And I want to reconnect with nature – usually I spend 80% of my time indoors and I want to know what happens to me and my brain when I flip the script and spend 80% of my time outdoors.”

Flo’s adventure began in January 2023 and when we caught up with her, she had travelled through Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania and was taking a break in Uganda.

“I was a bit burnt out when I got to Kenya. Ethiopia was physically demanding (it was very hilly), plus I had a tough time in the desert to the north of Kenya. So I decided to take a break from the bike after Kenya by climbing Mt Kilimanjaro!”

She is aiming to reach Cape Town by April 2024.

Florence Ryan Project Africa


Find out more

  • Catch up with Florence’s Project Africa adventure on her YouTube channel
  • View her Instagram
  • Watch her weekly videos produced during her time at Durham
  • Florence is looking to connect with members of our alumni and supporter community. If you are based in Africa, please do get in touch with her at