“I Turn Off My Lights at Night to Pretend I’m in Nigeria” — Abroad Life

April 15, 2022

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.


When today’s subject on Abroad Life got tired of waiting for over a year for Canada to give her a visa, she decided to try the UK instead. She got her UK visa in three months. Now, she’s there but doesn’t like a few things — like too much electricity and over-politeness. 

Tell me about the time you decided to move abroad.

2020. Before then, moving abroad wasn’t on my mind. It’s not because I love Nigeria o, I just thought I’d never be able to afford japa. I come from a poor family, studied law and was earning peanuts throughout my five years as a lawyer. The only thing on my mind was progressing my career, getting a new job and starting a business.

Then one day, my friend brought up Canada during a conversation. First, I laughed. Who has Canada relocation money? But she persisted and told me it wasn’t as expensive as people made it out to be. I didn’t have to have all the money at once. All I had to do was plan well. 

You don’t have to pay at once?

When people talk about Canada, they say, “It’s expensive because you have to pay for credentials assessment, English proficiency tests, proof of funds and application fees.” It sounds overwhelming when you put it like that. You don’t have to pay all of those fees at once.  

I paid $220 for my credentials assessment, and ₦79k for an English proficiency test. That’s all I needed to enter the pool of applicants. I then built on my proof of funds and paid my application fees over time. 

I started the application process, but COVID happened and I just forgot about it. I spent most of the year trying to start my own law-related business. 

When did you pick it back up?

October 20, 2020. When I saw the things that happened that day, I promised myself I had to leave the country within a year. I felt like my life was worth nothing in this Nigeria. I started the application again, got in the applicant pool in February 2021 and waited for my name to be selected. 

By September 2021, I concluded nothing was going to happen. Thousands of people around the world were waiting for their Canadian visas, and I didn’t think it was going to be my turn any time soon, so I gave up. I discussed it with a friend and they told me to try the UK instead. This time, however, it would be for a master’s degree.

Was the application easy?

It was easy but more expensive than Canada. I started my application on September 6th and got my visa on December 6th. For studying in the UK, once you provide everything they require, you’re sure you’re going to get your visa. The process has a checklist with points. For everything you have on the checklist, you get the corresponding points. Once you pass their points cut off, you get the visa. I even booked my flight for December 31st, 2021 before I got my visa. I booked a flight that’d land in the UK on January 1st because I wanted to start the new year on a clean slate. 

Expectation vs reality: UK edition. 

I tried my best to have zero expectations coming to the UK. I just wanted to come here and do school. Perhaps the only expectation I had in some corner of my mind was that it would be difficult to survive financially in the UK because I’m sponsoring myself through school. 

The first thing that stood out to me when I got here was the orderliness of everything. Everything working so perfectly is constantly battling with the chaotic Nigerian in me. The craziest thing for me is that they’ve never taken light. How? Sometimes, to make it feel like I’m in Nigeria, I turn off my lights and everything electrical in my room and just lie down in the dark. 

LMAO!

The train is always on time too. It’s just weird to me. 

But when I say everything is working, I’m not talking about the weather. That one isn’t. It can go from sunny to rainy to absolutely gloomy in a matter of minutes. Most times though, it’s gloomy. And when you add that to loneliness, it’s depressing. 

You’re lonely?

Many of the Nigerians I’ve met here are either in school studying or just busy with work and trying to pay bills. People don’t have time for each other. If I was to have time to make friends and socialise, it would mean I have to relax on school stuff, and that’s impossible. School here is so, so difficult. 

Why?

The schooling system is generally rigorous, but when you add the fact that I’m studying a tech-related course after I’ve been a law student and lawyer for the past 11 years, it’s a bit more difficult. 

You didn’t say anything about the people.

They’re polite to a fault and I don’t like it. Even when they’re mad at you, they say stuff like, “my love” and “darling”. Like, please let me know if you’re angry at me. Stop smiling. They can be smiling with you and drafting your resignation letter.

Do you think you can solve the loneliness?

I think I just have to get used to it. I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon. People are always going to be too busy to hang out and commit themselves to building communities. It’s very fast-paced here. 

What’s your plan for when you’re done with your master’s?

If I don’t have a job then, I’ll apply for UK’s two-year post-study visa. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll start the Canada application again. If Canada doesn’t work out, I’ll return to Nigeria. No wahala. 


Hey there! My name is Sheriff 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.

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

November 1, 2022

The Nigerian Voter is a series that seeks to understand the motivations that drive the voting decisions of Nigerians — why they vote, how they pick their candidates, why some have never voted, and their wildest stories around elections. The subject of today’s The Nigerian Voter is Victor, a 32-year-old energy commodity market analyst in […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

November 25, 2022

Just three months to the start of the 2023 elections, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Abdullahi Adamu, started a beef with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). It wasn’t about electoral violence or vote buying but rather a new feature of the 2023 elections. The APC national chairman believes Nigeria […]

Recommended Quizzes

June 14, 2020

Have you ever been with someone so horrible that you swore to never date again? Yes? Well, do you know that one or more of your exes probably feels the same way about you? You never thought about that, huh? Thankfully, this quiz is here to let you know just how much of a hassle […]

November 4, 2019

After successfully predicting when y’all are getting married (please, email any complaints to noneofourbusiness@nayousabi.com), we are back to tell you how much is currently in your account. How, you might ask? By using your taste in Nollywood, of course. Shhh. No questions. Just take it already:

September 1, 2021

August is over, and here are some of our best quizzes from August. Enjoy: 1. QUIZ: Only Ajebutters Can Get 10/21 On This Quiz Some people like to form ajepako when they’re really ajebutter. Are you one of them? Let’s find out. 2. QUIZ: Sorry, If You’re Under 25 There’s No Way You Can Pass […]

November 11, 2019

Today, we are going to be using your taste in music to determine how good you actually are in bed. All you need to do is create the ultimate Nigerian hit — from the lead artist to the producer — and we’ll tell you if all your partners leave satisfied, or if you are just […]

More from Citizen

November 25, 2022

Just three months to the start of the 2023 elections, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Abdullahi Adamu, started a beef with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). It wasn’t about electoral violence or vote buying but rather a new feature of the 2023 elections. The APC national chairman believes Nigeria […]

November 24, 2022

If we asked you to describe the 2023 presidential election campaigns, what word would you use?  Whichever word just ran through your mind, we know it doesn’t rhyme with “boring” or “dry”, because the campaign season has been entertaining.  Millions of Nigerian voters have picked their candidates for the 2023 presidential election, but we won’t […]

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

September 13, 2022
Vs The World is a Zikoko original video series that follows best friends Astor and Hassan as they take on the world.
August 23, 2022
Zikoko Ships is a Zikoko Original series where we invite two people who share a relationship to play the Zikoko card games
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.

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.
X