“I Never Want To Stay In One Country All My Life”- Abroad Life

June 18, 2021

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.

Today’s subject on Abroad Life is a woman who moved to the UK seven months ago for her master’s. She talks about how travelling when she was young inspired her to japa, how she handled all the challenges that came with moving abroad, and her plans for the future.

First things first, why are you in the UK?

I’m in the UK for my master’s. I’ve been here for about seven months. Being here also means I’m one step closer to japa’ing.

When did you decide that you wanted to leave Nigeria?

I’d never been interested in staying in Nigeria. Ever since I was a kid, all I wanted was to stay in different countries for periods of time and then move. I‘m not a fan of staying in one place all your life. I travelled a bit when I was younger — a few West African countries, France and Greece. That early exposure gave me the inspiration I needed to chase my dreams of not staying in one place.

What was growing up like for you?

Before moving here, I lived in Lagos all my life. My childhood was enjoyable. My parents were bankers, we were comfortable and I went to a good secondary school. In the economic crisis in 2009, my dad lost his job. He was a top-level official in one of the biggest banks in Nigeria. It was sad, but because the qualities of our lives didn’t change, I thought everything was still normal.

The secondary school I went to prioritised applying for foreign schools over applying for Nigerian schools, so I wrote the foreign school exams. In my entire set, I was the only person that didn’t go abroad for university. I was devastated. 

Why didn’t you go?

Honestly, it was more “couldn’t” than “didn’t”. I didn’t realise that my parents’ finances weren’t as good as I thought they were. When my mum told me that I wouldn’t be able to go, I was furious. My older siblings had gotten their university degrees in Nigeria, so my parents needed to find a way for me to get mine abroad. Writing JAMB didn’t seem like a possibility for me, but I eventually had to, and then I went to UNILAG. 

Great Akokite!

Haha… I hated going to UNILAG because I didn’t believe I was meant to be there. It was in UNILAG I learnt how to use buses in Lagos. I became street smart. 

My mum promised I would go for my master’s abroad after university.


After UNILAG, I settled into life as a Lagosian and got a 9-5 job.

What happened to the master’s?

I didn’t apply until 2020. Someone told me to apply for the Chevening scholarship, and you have to apply to school programmes to qualify for the scholarship, so I applied to five schools. Another reason the UK was attractive was that I didn’t have to pay an application fee for the schools I applied to. I searched for schools in the US and Canada, but I couldn’t afford the application fees, so I just stuck with my UK schools. 

My Chevening application wasn’t great, so I didn’t get it. Four out of the five schools I applied for accepted me, but I’d given up hope of attending any of them because I wouldn’t be able to afford the fees. Somehow, I found a scholarship for the current school I’m in. I applied, and after waiting a long time and battling uncertainty, I got it.

Nice. What were your expectations, going to the UK?

I was a bit scared. I remember my aunt, who is a citizen, telling me on the drive from the airport to my new school not to take racist comments too personally because even though we were the same, white people didn’t see us as the same.

All the uncertainty I felt made me angry at my parents all over because I thought they could have also moved to the UK when we were younger. Many of their siblings are here. Even if they didn’t move, they could have at least given us more opportunities to travel. 

It was also scary that I was leaving my boyfriend behind. Right before I left, we’d lived together for about nine months. 

I wanted to quit my job, but someone advised me to keep it because I would need to make some money. When I told my boss, he was fine with me working from the UK, but my salary was reduced because I would no longer be working full-time. 

Ouch. I’m curious, how has living apart affected your relationships?

With my boyfriend, we talk a lot on the phone. He even got me an iPhone so we can FaceTime more. This period has helped us understand each other much better and be more intentional with each other. Living apart takes away physical touch and that can be tough sometimes, but we’re surviving. There’s also the variable that because we’re not together, we might misunderstand each other, especially during arguments.

With my friends, it’s been much tougher. It seemed like many of them thought that because I was now abroad, I was out of their lives. I had to make it clear to them that they were still my friends, and they needed to make time for me so I wouldn’t suffer from loneliness. Loneliness while living abroad is not talked about enough. 

Are you still at your job?

Yes I am. When I got here, I was scared that because I had a job and was in school, something would suffer — I would either do great at my job and fail at school, or do great at school and fail at my job. That hasn’t been the case. My results in school have been good, and I got a raise at work because of my performance. 

Has it been easy balancing work and school?

It’s not. While work isn’t feeling my absence and I’m doing well at school, my health is definitely taking a hit for all that. I don’t rest enough and I could be much healthier, generally. My social life in the UK is also not great. I haven’t been able to go out and explore like I thought I would before I got here, although that’s also partly because of COVID. 

What’s it like earning in Naira and living abroad? 

I don’t spend a lot of my money because my scholarship covers a lot and I live in school. My salary covers the basics, and I also give my parents money every month. 

Nice! What’s it been like living in the UK?

It’s been pretty decent. I have a fast internet and things work. My classmates are also nice. I didn’t experience distinct racism until recently when a housemate called Nigerian food smelly and disgusting because she was angry at another Nigerian housemate. I’m just counting the days until I’m done with my master’s and I leave this house. 

What’s next for you?

The UK has a policy where you can stay for two extra years after you study here without a school or job sponsoring your visa. I want to stay here, but I also want to get married next year. I also recently got a new job and will be starting that soon. It’s hard to leave my old job but I have to move on. 

The new job is in Nigeria, but they don’t mind me working remotely, and they have a branch in the UK that’s willing to sponsor my visa when that time comes. 

So I have a lot of planning to do with my partner, but I think we’re going to move here and settle. 

Hey there! My name is David and I’m the writer of Abroad Life. If you’re a Nigerian and you live or have lived abroad, I would love to talk to you about what that experience feels like and feature you on Abroad Life. All you need to do is fill out this short form, and I’ll be in contact.

David Odunlami

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

August 26, 2020

If you haven’t seen the video, find it below, but yes, Femi Fani-Kayode (FFK) really showed the darkest side to him when a Journalist asked him if his recent visit to Cross River and other PDP states were being sponsored, or “bankrolled”. The thing is, there’s too many things that can be taken away from […]


Now on Zikoko

July 31, 2021

Angel, one of the resident Gen-Z’s in the ongoing Big Brother Nigeria has shown us that beyond being self-aware, she is also very funny. Here are a few times Angel has shown us that she is one of the top 5 funny women in Nigeria. 1. She being a generous and accomodating side chick. 2. […]

July 31, 2021

Here are 9 quizzes for Geography experts. If you’re truly one, you shouldn’t have any problem acing them. 1. QUIZ: Only Smart Nigerians Can Score 20/25 On This A-Z Geography Quiz How many Nigerian cities and states do you know from A-Z? Get up to 20 on this quiz to prove you’re smart. N.B: The answer […]

July 31, 2021

Sex Life is an anonymous Zikoko weekly series that explores the pleasures, frustrations and excitement of sex in the lives of Nigerians. TW: Sexual Abuse. The subject of today’s Sex Life is a 28-year-old heterosexual woman who talks about hating condoms and how all that changed after an STD and two pregnancies.   What was your […]

July 31, 2021

Truth or Dare can be a fun game to play whether you’re hanging in with friends or you’re playing drinking games. However, it can get old really quick if you don’t have the right questions or dare. So we put together a couple of truth or dare questions to ask a guy at the next […]

Recommended Quizzes

November 7, 2019

These days, everyone is always talking about how much sex they’re getting, or how little sex they’re getting, or how disgusting sex is etc. There’s just so much talk about sex, it’s almost impossible to know who’s lying and who’s telling the truth. In anticipation of our new series about the sex lives of young […]

April 14, 2020

Every friend group consists of very different and specific characters — from the parent to the fun one — and it can be a little tough figuring out where you fall. So, we’ve created a quiz that lets you know exactly what kind of friend you are. Take to find out:

November 19, 2019

Regardless of what society has tried to tell us, enjoying sex is not something to be ashamed of. So, in a bid to celebrate our generation’s sexual agency, we’ve created a quiz that will accurately (again, keep your complaints to yourself) infer how many people you’ve spelt with. Try it out: 11 Quizzes For The […]

November 27, 2019

Do you have a face that could make angels jealous, or should you really be walking around with a nylon bag over your head so you don’t scare children? Well, this quiz is here to answer that by telling you exactly how good-looking you are. Take and find out: 11 Quizzes For People Who Aren’t […]

February 26, 2020

Are you all set for marriage, or are you still figuring it out? Well, if you’re curious to know the answer, then this is the quiz for you. All you have to do is create your own ideal Nollywood wedding film, and we’ll tell you if you’re ready to say “I do”. Go ahead:

More from Citizen

July 30, 2021

The subject of today’s Abroad life is a 35-year-old man who has lived many lives. He talks about being rejected three times by the US embassy, the bad state of the Nigerian education system, and how freelancing paid for his japa.  When did you decide that you wanted to leave Nigeria? I’d always passively wanted […]

July 25, 2021

From time to time, I see tweets about how living abroad as a Nigerian is tough because it gets lonely. In the past, whenever I saw those tweets, I thought, “I’d rather be lonely abroad than suffering in Nigeria.” But then I spoke with these five people on Abroad Life and their stories made me […]

July 23, 2021

On Saturday, July 24, 2021, the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) will conduct an election to elect the next chairman and councillors in the 20 local government areas and the 37 local council development areas in the state.  Why should you care about this? Provisions in the 1999 constitution and the Electoral Act of […]

July 23, 2021

You probably haven’t heard about the country on today’s Abroad Life. It’s Curaçao— a small island in the Caribbean. Today’s subject moved there in 2019, and talks about the country, its people, and why she thinks it’s very similar to Nigeria. When did you decide that you wanted to leave Nigeria? This isn’t the first […]

July 2, 2021

From intriguing stories about fraudsters in Malaysia to heartbreaking stories about child slavery, I’ve shared some brilliant stories worth documenting about Nigerians and their unique experiences abroad. Because we’ve just passed the half year mark, I’m deciding to share the most-read Abroad Life stories from this year. Enjoy. 1. “I Went From Earning ₦20,000 to […]

July 2, 2021

Today’s subject on Abroad Life is a 24-year-old woman who moved to the UK last year after getting ghosted by someone she just met. She talks about quitting her frustrating job in Nigeria, meeting a guy and leaving the country because he suddenly stopped talking to her.  When did you decide that you wanted to […]


Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.