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 was enjoying his post-university work life in Nigeria when constant harassment from SARS made him realise he couldn’t stay anymore. How did he process a move to Ireland? What’s it like dating a white woman? What are his plans for the future?
Read his story here.
When did you decide to move abroad?
I’ve been hoping to move abroad since I finished secondary school in 2013. I wanted to go to Canada because my best friend was going there for university, but my parents didn’t allow me — they said they wanted me to experience university in Nigeria.
What was that like?
It went by like a breeze. I went to a school that had lots of rules, so it wasn’t the best experience for me. Most of the time, I felt caged. Thankfully, I was able to graduate in four years.
After university, I did NYSC and then got a job as an operations analyst at a bank in 2019. The job paid ₦250k. For someone fresh out of university, it was good pay. Apart from the money, I had super fun colleagues, worked with celebrities, and met my weekly targets. It was fulfilling. But there was a problem.
SARS. I was a young man carrying a laptop around in Ubers, and those people used my eyes to see pepper. They’d stop me, search me, slap me, everything. I was enjoying my job, but I was living in fear.
After uni, I’d already tried to do a master’s in Canada, but even after I paid my ₦8m school fees, I didn’t get my visa. Canada was denying a lot of visas that year. They returned about ₦7.8m. Exchange rates. My dad was pissed.
Anyways, the SARS experience made me intensify my japa plans. I didn’t tell my parents that the reason I was trying to leave Nigeria was because of police harassment because I didn’t want them to be worried. I just told them I really wanted to go abroad for my master’s.
When did Ireland come into the picture?
2020. I did some reading and saw that Irish visas were easier to get than Canadian visas, so I started applying for schools in Ireland.
What was that process like?
I found an agent that did it for me for free.
There are agents that help you process your application, visa and everything else for free. They get paid directly by the school when you pay your fees. The only things I had to spend money on were printing, photocopying and the visa application fee.
I got my visa in September 2020, and that same month, I was out of Nigeria. Two weeks after I left, the EndSARS protests happened. I felt bad I wasn’t there, but I also felt good that it was happening, considering how many times those SARS people harassed me.
Expectation vs reality: Ireland edition.
My plan was to come here, do my master’s, have fun, finish my master’s, and immediately start making loads of money. Reality? It’s cold and boring here. Because of COVID, I spent my entire master’s year learning from home, so it was difficult to socialise. And for the “loads of money” part, omo.
LMAO. Was it easy settling?
Difficult. Imagine moving to a new country and you have to stay indoors throughout. I first moved in with a friend, and then after two weeks, moved out on my own. I had to resort to dating apps to find friends and potential lovers.
Have you dated anybody?
I’m now in my third relationship since I moved here. The first two were Nigerian babes, and stuff didn’t really work out with them. My current girlfriend is white.
What’s the difference between dating a Nigerian girl and a white girl?
White babes are much less problematic. They won’t give you all the unnecessary mental gymnastics Nigerian babes give because they communicate much better. It’s much easier to solve issues that way. They also won’t bill you as much as Nigerian babes. My God, billing is not just a thing that happens in Nigeria o. I even have female Nigerian friends who want to come and visit me, and all they ask is, “Will you pay for my cab?” Why?
Even when we go to stores to get stuff, before I bring out my card, my babe has already brought hers out to pay. No Nigerian babe has done that for me.
Tell me about your work life in Ireland.
When I was a student, I first did warehouse work. After two months at the warehouse, I found a better paying job taking care of old people who need help. I gave them medications, made their meals, walked with them, walked their pets, kept them company, etc. These are considered blue-collar jobs here. I couldn’t do a white-collar job because I was still a student.
Now that I’ve graduated, I’m in between jobs, but I’m looking to work as a business analyst at a well-paying company. I’ve had two jobs and been unemployed for a month now, so I’m just deciding on what’s best for me.
Nice. What’s your favourite part about living in Ireland?
Going out and not being harassed by SARS. Also, I can be myself without anyone over-monitoring me.
And your least favourite part?
It’s cold, it’s boring, and there’s no Nigerian food.
Is there a solution to the boredom?
I guess maybe going out clubbing, or eating out with friends. I plan to stay here for the foreseeable future, so I have to get used to it.
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.