The Nigerian experience is physical, emotional, and sometimes international. No one knows it better than our features on #TheAbroadLife, a series where we detail and explore Nigerian experiences while living abroad.

This week’s subject on Abroad Life is a medical doctor who has lived in America for eight years. She says she’s fallen in love with everything about the country, except for one thing — the lack of gun control. 

When did you decide to move abroad?

Years before I finally made a move in 2001. Life was beginning to get unbearable. Imagine a medical doctor trained in Nigeria and a pharmacist trained in America not being able to make a good standard of living combined. Either I couldn’t get a good job or I did a job and wasn’t paid. I also had four kids and thus, had to look out for the future. I’m glad I finally got some help by leaving the country. 

How did you manage to migrate with four kids?

The way it happened, it was almost like we won the lottery. There’s a category of visa called H1-B. Sometimes in America when labour is low, they grant H1-B visas to immigrants to come in and work. After five years, you can regularise your visa and become an American citizen. 

My husband was able to get this H1-B visa because a pharmaceutical company in the United States wanted to hire him. The company provided lawyers that helped us with the entire process. With that H1-B visa, the rest of the family could accompany him on an H4 visa. I couldn’t work on the H4 visa, but my kids could go to school. 

In 2005, the company regularised his visa to permanent residency with a green card. Five years later, he became a full citizen of the United States. The kids and I were also able to regularise our visa into America after some years with a green card and got our full citizenship. 

What was the US like?

I will talk about one culture shock which embraces everything. What I noticed right from the plane going to America is that the white man likes to be his brother’s keeper. Everyone was so concerned for my well being because of the shock of seeing me with four kids— 

Wait, can you tell us about your flight experience? 

First, we missed a connecting flight. LMAO.

We were supposed to be in the plane from France to Fort Myers, Florida. However the flight was cancelled due to severe weather conditions. We had to wait a couple of hours to catch the next one and boarded in a hotel for the night. They accommodated us so well. They gave us food and everything else that we needed while waiting. When we finally got on the plane, the kids were so exhausted that some of them sat on the floor. Every time an air hostess or even a passenger passed by, they always checked on us.

And when you got to Florida?

On our first night in Fort Myers, we boarded in a hotel, and I immediately met this lady that was so in love with my accent. She asked where we were from, how we got there and also introduced us to her church. It was that church family that helped us from time to time with meal coupons and made us comfortable when we moved into our new home. One lady even used her truck to help us move.

Then during Christmas, they gave us free furniture and gifts for the children. That was heartwarming. I, thankfully, didn’t experience any form of racism.

Nice! Have you had any encounters with a racist since you settled in?

Let me say what I’ve observed. I will not say I’ve encountered racism. My kids came to this country and two of them are now medical doctors. Where is the racism in that? If you work hard in the United States of America, whatever you deserve would be given to you. Unlike Nigeria, where the more you work, the less profit or gain you’d see. The minorities here are the intellectuals. I live in my own fully paid house now in the U.S., something I was never able to do in Nigeria. 

I won’t say there is or isn’t racism. But I can say that I’ve benefited from America, and thus, can’t really say that there is racism. 

What else do you enjoy in the US apart from constant electricity?

Well, a whole lot. Prices don’t skyrocket uncontrollably. Even if it goes up, the government is trying their best to bring it down. We breathe fresher air here. The quality of the healthcare system here is one million times better. This is because the government spends millions of dollars on research, medical equipment and training of medical staff. Hence, you can be at least 90% sure that you will be treated by capable doctors and not quacks. You can always do checkups here with the insurance you paid for.

The only thing I’d say they’re yet to hack with their healthcare system is the high costs, and that’s because of the lack of regulation when it comes to medical insurance. Most of the medical insurance companies are owned by private shareholders, and they add so much profit to the prices of medical services, that it’s crazy to think about. Even with Medicare (the US national healthcare insurance scheme) you’re not assured of getting all your medical needs covered. 

But if we’re talking about the quality of education and food, it’s definitely up to par and highly regulated. For instance, health and safety officials always check on the quality of food one eats at restaurants. Every skill here is certified, even down to hairdressing. And those certificates need to be on display. Here, you are held accountable for your actions. 

I can go on and on. As long as you stay in your lane, you can live a qualitative life.

How do you navigate tax?

If you cut your coat according to your size here, you should be okay. Even though I am getting taxed, I know how much I earn and how much I’d be left with at the end of the day, and I live within that bracket. 

Is there anything that’d make you leave? 

I’d say it’s the issue of gun control. In America here, so far as you’re of legal age you can purchase a gun. This, for me, is bad. Guns can now get into the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. If they can come up with some legislation on who can own a gun, then everything about America is okay. 

Have you ever experienced gun violence?

I haven’t, but everyone is allowed to own guns here. There are pros to this, though. Thieves won’t be so eager to break into your house as the resident may most likely own a gun. However, it has caused so many store robberies that I’d like for it to stop. 

Do you have plans to return to Nigeria?

Yes, I’m looking to settle down in Nigeria after retirement. I’m just praying that the country would be better so that I can retire in peace. 

Do you miss anything about Nigeria?

Oh, I miss Nigerian food. Food like ukwa, ube, and even snails are sorely missed here. I also miss my hometown in Anambra too, but there’s no safety there. I wish that the country can be secure so that I can come back home. 



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