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 moved to Canada over a year ago. She talks about how she successfully migrated and became a permanent resident in nine months and why for some people, she thinks it’s better they stay where they are.
First things first, where are you right now?
Canada. I’ve been here for over a year now.
Why did you move?
To be very honest, the situation of things in Nigeria was getting too bad. And I figured before the 2019 elections that if Buhari won, it would only get worse. I had to plan an exit strategy.
What was the strategy?
Canada. I migrated as a permanent resident under the Federal Skilled Worker’s Program.
How did you run the programme? Asking for a friend.
I did a lot of reading. Google and Nairaland were my best friends. The basic thing you need to do is write IELTS and then do a credential assessment to compare your Nigerian credentials to Canadian requirements. Once you have those two documents and pass other eligibility checks, you can join the pool. You’ll be sent an Invitation To Apply for permanent residency if you make the cut, and that’s it. I have videos on my YouTube channel where I break down the process even more and talk about other programmes.
That’s cool. How long did the entire process take?
After I submitted the application, it took about three months, but that’s only because I was lucky. If we’re counting the time from when I prepared for IELTS and completed my ECA, then it would be about nine months in total.
Let’s talk about cost. How much did you spend to complete your japa?
The running cost was about one million naira. That includes IELTS, WES, RPRF, biometrics, application fees, medicals, police clearance, and all of that.
Let me start saving…
Proof of funds was 12,860 Canadian dollars. You need to have that amount or its equivalent sitting in your bank balance to settle once you arrive in Canada. Even if you don’t use it, they need to see that money in your account from when you apply until when the application is approved.
Omo. How was settling in?
Settling was seamless. The Canadian government has sponsored lots of agencies to help immigrants settle in and find jobs. The only challenging part is the cold sha. I’m not sure I can get used to it.
What was the most difficult part about settling in?
I wouldn’t term it as difficult, but learning to use the transit system was a bit challenging. I had to use Google Maps to check for buses. A lot of times, I missed the bus because I was probably on the wrong side of the road or late. The subway too was challenging, but I’ve gotten used to it now.
How easy was it blending it with the people?
Well, no one gives a fuck about you abroad so you deal with everything yourself. I don’t know my neighbors, I’ve never seen them. I only see my housemates on weekends, nobody notices your absence or presence, you’re basically on your own. You can meet new people at work, meetup groups and community groups.
Did you find a Nigerian community there?
Before I left Nigeria, I was already on WhatsApp groups for Nigerians in Canada and Nigerians in Ontario. I’m a very friendly person, so making other Nigerian friends was very easy for me.
Was it easy finding a job with a decent pay?
Yeah it was. My first job was even above minimum wage. In Ontario, minimum wage is $14/hr. It varies from province to province. My first pay was $16.5/hr and I was there for only 3 months before I got a better offer.
Boss. What do you do?
I wish I was. I’m a financial analyst.
Your japa story sounds so perfect. Is there a “but” somewhere?
To be honest, I’ve not had any major challenges. Maybe getting my driving license. I had to take the driving test four times before I could pass.
Haha…that one is on you. So about that tweet…
Do you ever see yourself returning to Nigeria?
Of course, Nigeria is home. I will visit anytime I can.
Visit, haha. You’ve fully japa’d now.
Yes, I’ll just visit. We’ll enjoy Detty December together. No one is leaving me behind.
Did the situation in Nigeria in the past few months affect you?
It affected me in every way. The gory pictures and videos I saw, I’m not sure I can ever get them off my head. The thought that my loved ones could get a stray bullet anytime couldn’t make me sleep. Even though I was miles away, I could feel the heat.
Do you think more Nigerians should leave for Canada?
Moving abroad is not for everyone. But anyone that wants to move should take it seriously.
What do you mean “moving abroad is not for everyone”?
I believe in destiny and some elements of luck too. Some people will go abroad and struggle to get things done and some other people will find things very easy. I don’t believe everyone needs to go abroad to be successful. I was doing pretty well in Nigeria before I left. I just wanted a more secure future and a safe environment for my kids in the long run. Wealth is not enough to give you long lasting peace of mind in Nigeria.
So how does someone know if it’s their destiny? Asking for a friend again.
Well, they have two options. Pray and ask God for directions or give it a try and see first if it’ll work.
Which one did you do?
Well, I tried and it worked, but I was also praying on the side. So I guess you could say I did both.
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.