“Imagine Having Culture Shock in Your Own Country” – Abroad Life

March 25, 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.

Today’s subject on Abroad Life had a culture shock when she went to the UK and found out that people weren’t as nice as she expected. After staying there for seven years and getting used to living that way, she moved back to Nigeria, only to be shocked that people were so nice and funny. 

When did you first decide to move abroad?

I didn’t decide by myself. I’d just finished secondary school at 16, and my parents decided they wanted my twin sister and me to go to the UK to study. This was in 2013. I’d been to the UK for holiday a couple of times prior, and the US just once, also for holiday.

Expectation vs reality: UK edition.

Every time I’d been to the UK before then, we stayed with family in London. This time, we went to a school in Buckingham. I thought, “Hm, Buckingham must be big and grand and bustling because that’s where the Queen lives. As in, Buckingham Palace.” See, it’s a small, quiet town that’s the opposite of what I thought it was. Apparently, Buckingham Palace is in London. 


Settling in was difficult. There aren’t a lot of Nigerians in Buckingham, so I had to socialise with people who didn’t understand my accent, jokes and culture. To make it worse, I was coming from an all-girls secondary school in Nigeria to a mixed university in the UK. The last time I mixed with boys was in primary school. Now I was classmates with… with men. 

What was that like?

I was scared. I didn’t know what I could say to them or the boundaries I could cross. It was as I gradually settled in I made male friends and learnt how to interact with men. 

I wanted to get into a romantic relationship but couldn’t because I didn’t find anyone I really liked. And even the relationships that could have gone somewhere always ended because they wanted to have sex. As a Christian, I can’t have sex before marriage.

Did things get better?

I started seeing that although brits were very straight to the point, they used a lot of endearment terms like “sweetie” or “darling”. That made me feel a bit more at ease. Even if they were being mean, they still called you darling. 

On the other hand, they didn’t joke a lot. Everyone was just so serious. Thankfully, I had my twin sister, and we did almost everything together. We lived together in school and changed apartments twice together. 

Wait, how long did you stay in the UK?

Seven years. We did a four-year course, and then a two-year master’s programme. The extra year we took was because our dad died. 


We travelled home in 2017 and found out our dad had died. We’d got to Nigeria on the 21st of that month. He died on the 15th. When we tried to call him before we got to Nigeria and his number wasn’t going through, my mum told us he travelled to a place where there was no network. 

Imagine getting home for the holidays and finding out your dad is no longer alive. He’d promised to take us to different fun places that holiday, and he was just gone. It hurt like hell. We had to stay for the funeral and then stay with our mum too. 

One thing I learned from my dad’s death was that people from different backgrounds approach death differently. 

How so?

In Nigeria, people showed they cared by saying stuff like, “Be strong” and “It’s better to lose your dad than your mum, so be thankful”. That didn’t really sit right with me, especially when I compared it with all the messages when I got back to the UK. All the “We love you” and “So sorry about your loss”. It was just different, and better. 

Tell me your favourite part about the UK.

Accessibility to a wider range of stuff. Stuff like gluten-free food, same-day deliveries, good roads and electricity. You can’t beat that. 

And your least favourite thing?

The UK is brutally expensive. I say “brutally” because nobody cares if you can’t pay for something. They’ll bring the police for you. For example, if you owe one month’s rent, you should be afraid because they can bring the police to arrest you. There’s no “take this discount because you’re my customer”. Nope. It’s all very official. At first, I thought it was them being wicked, but I just realised, business is business. 

By 2020, I finished my master’s and moved back to Nigeria.

What was that like?

Imagine having culture shock in your own country. I hadn’t lived in Nigeria as an adult, so it was difficult settling in again. First of all, I had to get used to the fact that Nigerians joke a lot — a reality I wasn’t used to in the UK. Someone would say something, and I’d get angry before I realised it was a joke. Or a “cruise”. I had to learn all the terms like “japa” and “sapa”. People were also much nicer. Even strangers. 

It took me over a year, but I’ve now gotten used to being here. 

Do you plan to stay?

I’ll probably be out again for my master’s this year. This time, in the US. I haven’t told anyone because I haven’t got my admission and visa yet, but fingers crossed. 

Fingers crossed.

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.

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

October 31, 2018

Bananas are a little too mainstream for monkeys around here, if it’s not hard currency, please forget it! When 70 million Naira belonging to the Northern Senators Forum went missing from the farm of its chairman- Senator Abdullahi Adamu, the most logical culprit had to be blamed – a monkey that had been ravaging the […]

December 11, 2020

Today’s subject on Abroad Life talks about navigating relationships as a young Nigerian man in a new environment: Canada. He talks about how he found love, but lost it because of religious differences.  How long have you been in Canada for? I’ve been in Canada for over four years. I came here in September 2016 […]


Now on Zikoko

Recommended Quizzes

October 30, 2019

2010 was a game-changing one for Nollywood, with our movies making serious cash and getting international acclaim. So, which of these hits released between 2010 and 2019 — from the pace-setting The Wedding Party to the divisive Trip To Jamaica — best suits your personality? Well, that’s what this quiz is here to answer:

November 28, 2019

There are so many talented and stunning Nollywood actors that make it hard not to fall in love with them. So, while we all know the likelihood of us ending up with any of them is super low, it’s still fun to imagine a world where we actually stood a chance, and that’s why this […]

April 9, 2020

At some point in life, we all learnt that someone can be very intelligent and still lack common sense. That’s the difference between being book smart and being street smart. If you’re not sure where on the spectrum you fall, well, that’s what this quiz is here to tell you. Take it:

October 10, 2019

2019 is certainly Burna Boy’s year, but, if we are being honest, so was 2018. Since his transcendent mixtape, Outside, the afro-fusion star has refused to get his foot of our necks — dropping a string of fantastic singles and then capping it all off with his career-best album, African Giant.  So, in a bid […]

More from Citizen


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.