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.
On Abroad Life today, our subject takes us through his journey from deciding to leave Nigeria to moving to Ireland. He talks about navigating a long-distance relationship and being in love with the city where he stays.
When did you decide to move abroad?
2017. I finished my master’s in architecture that same year, and my friends abroad started encouraging me to move. I’m not one to make hasty decisions, so when they told me to travel, I started my own research. I looked at different countries, what it would take me to move, the experiences of other Nigerians, weather, e.t.c. And it might be a function of the fact that travelling was already looking like a good idea for me, but I started feeling like I wasn’t getting the full value of my efforts here. It felt like every work I did was for nothing. So I decided to leave to get another master’s.
Why another master’s?
It’s the easiest way for Nigerians to japa. It’s straightforward — you go to school, finish and legally integrate into society. If I got a job or did express entry, I’d have to incorporate into society immediately, pay tax, etc. As a student, I get to take it easy for at least a year before going into the thick of it. Plus, getting a student visa is much easier.
Also, I’m an architect. I need to understand the building codes and architectural regulations of whatever country I’m settling in. It’s just like law. You can’t study law in Nigeria and represent someone in a US court.
Why did you choose Ireland?
Ireland was my third option. My first choice was Australia, but it was too expensive and far. Germany was next. I got my admission, and all I needed to do was the visa interview, but for some reason, they forgot to call me for the interview. They forgot!
My interview was supposed to be in mid-2019, but they called me in December. By then, the school had resumed, and I’d already started processing Ireland.
What was the Ireland process like?
Omo, my first visa was denied. At this point, if I wasn’t mentally strong, and if I didn’t receive emotional support from my girlfriend and my family, I would have been discouraged. Imagine Germany saying they forgot to call me for an interview and then Ireland denying you a visa. It was tough.
Why did they deny the visa?
Ireland is very strict with finances, so if you can’t explain any money above ₦300k in your account, they won’t give you a visa.
At the time, I ran two businesses — my architecture consultancy business and my family truck-lending business. I didn’t register either of them. All the money went through my personal account. By the time they went through my account and saw plenty of money, they probably thought I was a fraudster and denied my visa. I could have appealed the decision, but I decided not to because I couldn’t explain to them that I was using my personal account for business purposes. Instead, I registered my businesses and used the following year to build the accounts up. I didn’t let any random person send me money because then I’d have to account for it.
When did you eventually leave?
Expectation vs reality: Ireland edition.
I did a lot of research before travelling, so nothing really jumped at me. Maybe the most significant thing is that I’ve never heard anyone speak Irish. Ever. Where I stay, all they speak is English. Also, the people here are friendly but straightforward. I don’t know how to explain it. They’ll say hi and talk about the weather, but they’re very formal.
How did moving abroad affect your relationships?
With my family, it’s been difficult because I miss them. But I speak with them often. With my girlfriend, it’s much more difficult. Being in a long-distance relationship is hard enough. When you add that you can’t take a trip to see the person on a whim and you’re busy with school, things are even more difficult. Because I see a future for myself in Ireland, my girlfriend and I have discussed it and we think it’ll be nice for her to move here.
She’s been wanting to do her master’s for a few years now, so it’s a perfect plan for her to join me here.
Thankfully, I’ve been here for a while, so I can help her settle in.
Tell me about your favourite part of Ireland.
My city, Limerick. It’s a diverse city, so there are many Africans here. It also has many country homes, and it’s very relaxed. I see myself staying in Ireland and settling with my family here, and Limerick is where I want to stay. I love it here.
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.