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 left Nigeria in search of a soft life, and although he had a rocky start in Ireland with the worst roommate ever, he’s beginning to enjoy his stay.
Why did you decide to move abroad?
You know when they say, “Cut your cloth according to your size”? They aren’t talking about me. I like to live an exquisite lifestyle, and thankfully, my older brothers funded that lifestyle for me when I was in Nigeria. I liked the idea of travelling and enjoying my life. Staying in Nigeria, earning in naira, wasn’t going to get me that lifestyle, so I had to move abroad where I could earn more money.
Did you travel growing up?
I travelled during the holidays, yes. My parents didn’t like travelling so they’d just send my siblings and me abroad. I went to Dubai, India, the countries on the west coast of Africa, and Lebanon. As an adult, I’ve travelled to Dubai more times. So when I say I like travelling, believe me.
What is it about travelling you like?
Getting to meet new people, experience new cultures and try new things, like paragliding and parasailing. Skydiving is on my bucket list, and I can’t skydive in Nigeria.
Why did you decide to move to Ireland?
In 2019, I decided to move to Canada. I had a group chat with my friends who all wanted to move abroad for their master’s. But, omo, Canada wasn’t smiling. Everyone except one babe got admission, but all were denied their visas. When I got my own admission, I thought I was special, and they’d let me go. Nope. Denied. Something about not having a strong travel history and them not thinking I’d return. They weren’t wrong about the last part.
The last babe eventually got admission and just bought her plane ticket and left because she’s a US citizen.
Then I applied to schools in the US and Ireland. By early 2020, I got admission with 80% scholarship in two US schools. I paid for my visa on a Monday, for a visa interview on a Friday, but by Thursday, the embassy closed because of COVID. Frustrating as hell.
On the work side of things, I was also getting super irritated. COVID meant I was working remotely, and my employers were killing me with work. I worked seven days a week, man. It got so bad I decided to put my foot down one Saturday and say I wasn’t working. I ignored work calls and emails. These people sent me a query letter, saying I had to respond to the query the same day. I just texted my supervisor and said I wasn’t going to.
The only other available option was an Irish school that’d given me admission sometime in January 2020, so I decided to go for it. I already had friends in Ireland who were telling me to come, and they were still processing admissions and visa applications, so I just thought, “Why not?”
What was the process like?
I submitted my application, statement of purpose, results, birth certificate, and waited for their feedback. I didn’t have to do a physical interview. It took about a month — July to August 2020. The semester was meant to start in September, but I left in October because I had to attend my brother’s wedding.
So you missed classes?
Nah. School was online throughout.
What was the point of travelling?
I was looking for admission abroad as a means for japa. I also thought COVID was going to blow over at some point and I’d get my chance to attend physical classes.
Expectation vs reality: Ireland edition
Ireland is not the UK. I expected it to look like the UK I see in films. But Cork, the city where I stay, is just so chill and green and beautiful. It’s way different from Lagos. No hustle and bustle. Again, I expected COVID to blow over pretty quickly, but I was stuck indoors for a while. My friends in Ireland are in Dublin so I thought I’d visit them a lot and party together. Nope. I was stuck with a roommate in the school hostel. My first flatmate was the worst I ever had.
The school paired me with a Nigerian; maybe they wanted us to vibe. I’m sure they had good intentions, but this guy was terrible. Right from when I entered the room and said hi, the way he looked at me was like I stole his babe. When I tried to laugh or joke with him, he’d just roll his eyes at me. But the final straw was when I stepped out to pick up a food order in the rain and forgot my key in the room. By the time I got back to the door, this guy looked at me standing and knocking in the rain and just walked away from my view.
When he eventually opened the door, my only decision was to get in that room and beat him up, but people that’d been hearing me shout calmed me down. Thankfully, the hostels weren’t full, so I just requested a room change. But Nigeria was Nigeria-ing and my parents couldn’t send the money for the new room on time so I had to stay with him for about three more weeks.
I eventually transferred to a room with a Canadian, Korean and Palestine. They were super cool, and that’s how I started making friends. Lockdown eventually eased off, and we were able to hang out and meet new people. I also visited my friends in Dublin.
What’s your favourite part about living in Ireland
Getting my job in September 2021.
Tell me about it
When I got here, I heard a lot about how difficult it is to get a job on a student visa, but I kept applying. Thankfully, a friend’s friend told me early enough I wasn’t getting any callbacks because my CV was trash, and I fixed it.
Amidst even more rejections, a company took me through multiple interviews until I got to a strange “legal interview” during which they asked about my nationality. Toward the end of the interview, they asked what type of visa I was on, and I told them it was a student visa. That was the end. But according to their LinkedIn, they had people on student visas working for them. I just think they didn’t hire me because I’m Nigerian.
That week, a friend told me they saw a job opening at one of the biggest companies in the world. First, I didn’t want to apply, but they convinced me to. Next thing, I got the job.
Whoop! Have you started your travelling and exquisite living?
Of course! This summer alone, I’ve been to France, Monaco, London and Italy. I’m planning to go skiing in January and February, to the Netherlands in March and to the US in May.
How do you get these visas?
The first visa I tried to apply for was a UK one. At first, I was scared to apply because of my Nigerian passport. I even wanted to put plenty of my mum’s money in my account so they wouldn’t think I was too broke to travel with the €500 in my own account, but my friends told me to just apply like that. And I got the visa. I also got a Schengen visa just by applying. I think once you live abroad and have a job, the Nigerian passport factor goes away.
Do you think you’re going to stay in Ireland?
Yeah. The path to getting your passport is straightforward — you get a job to sponsor it, and within three to five years, you can apply for your permanent residency. One year after, you can get your passport.
What do you miss most about Nigeria?
The food, man. I’m a terrible cook, so I miss Nigerian food. I also miss the people, but I can always FaceTime them. The nightlife too. Clubs close pretty early here and don’t always play Afrobeats.
Want more Abroad Life? Check in every Friday at 9 A.M. (WAT) for a new episode. Until then, read every story of the series here.
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.