This week’s #TheAbroadLife subject was supposed to move to Canada after marrying a citizen in 2014, but things went south until five years later, when she got married a second time — her husband couldn’t attend the wedding. She talks about the insane cold and having to restart her career in Canada.
Where are you right now?
I’m abroad, my dear.
LMAO. Oya, where exactly?
I’m in Ontario, Canada. I’ve been here for three years now. I came in 2019, just before COVID struck.
Was this your first time leaving Nigeria?
No. I’d gone on a trip with my sister and her family to the UAE sometime in 2013.
So, why did you decide to leave Nigeria permanently?
The thought started growing in my mind back in 2013. I’d met a guy through a friend, and we’d been dating for over a year. He is Nigerian but was born in Canada. It simply occurred to me that I’d also become a Canadian citizen, when we were planning to get married the following year. That was the first time japa matter entered my mind.
We got married in November 2014. This month would’ve been our eighth-year anniversary.
We divorced less than a year after. I really don’t understand why or what prompted him to seek a divorce, but he wanted one. After the wedding, he stayed for a month before traveling back to Canada for work. That’s where things suddenly started going bad.
We’d have very ridiculous arguments over trivial things that get overblown. One time, we argued over whether or not to commute to work or drive myself. It was always just something silly. I didn’t think these things were that big of a deal, until he said he wanted a divorce. This was less than six months into the relationship. I was livid, but he was hellbent on it and we got the drivorce.
Some people thought it was a spiritual thing, but I really don’t know. I went back to being single again in 2015. I moved into my elder sister’s house and stopped caring about men because love is a scam.
Also, I should mention that marrying a Canadian doesn’t grant you automatic citizenship. You still have to apply for it through the same process as everyone else. Yours might just be faster at best. But that was all out of question since my marriage had already gone south.
How did you heal from that?
I’m making jokes about it now, but to be honest, it was soul-crushing. I had a relatively loud wedding, so I felt somewhat embarrassed to have had to move back into my sister’s house. But she didn’t mind, and neither did her husband. They were super supportive, which made life easier to deal with. I probably became depressed about my life situation at some point, but they helped pull me out of it by making me feel less alone.
They had two kids. I became a proper big aunty and tended to them like they were my own. During that time, I realised all I actually wanted was a small, happy family, free from stress and harsh realities of any kind. After some time, I started flirting with the idea of falling for someone again.
Ah. You weren’t scared?
I was, but I knew the kind of life I wanted, and I’d just be miserable if I let it stay a dream. So I became intentional about meeting someone new. I became even more intentional about the kind of person I wanted to meet. I asked my aunt to connect me with someone she knew who fit the qualities I wanted. It was basically matchmaking, but I sought it out. This was sometime in 2018.
Did you like what you saw?
Omo, yes, I did, and he’s currently my husband. We’d been talking for months before we finally met. During that time, he told me he was living and working in Canada.
He finally came to Nigeria after a while and we met up. When we did, we hit it off immediately. It was like we’d known each other for a very long time. It was the easiest relationship I’d ever had. I didn’t have to force anything at all.
When did you start planning to escape to Canada with your lover?
He was already there, so it was more of me escaping to go meet him. We started thinking about the fastest way to go about it. He wasn’t a citizen yet; he hadn’t obtained his primary residence card. So getting married wouldn’t have solved the japa problem. I had to look for a way to get there somehow.
After much thought, I decided to apply for a work permit in Canada, which was easier than having to wait months for my PR to come. Also, if I could prove I was a professional in my home country, it’d really help my chances of getting in. I applied in September 2018, downloaded the application form, filled it out myself and attached all the necessary documents. Then I submitted it and went for the interview. The asked why I wanted to work in Canada. The questions weren’t that serious. I think more professionals should consider this route because it’d be faster for them.
In early 2019, my work permit was approved and half of the work was done. The other half involved getting certified to work as a pharmacist in Canada. Around this time, we got married.
Was it a destination wedding?
LMAO. No, it wasn’t. It even happened in absentia because he couldn’t come down to Nigeria because of work. So, he was in Canada at the time of the wedding while I was in Nigeria. But it was a very happy one because I had family around. It happened in April, and I left Nigeria three months after.
My last months in Nigeria were basically me spending more time with my sister and her family because I was leaving them after … years. Even though, they also had US Japa plans in motion already. I left Nigeria in the second half of 2019, just before COVID struck.
What is Canada like?
First of all, the cold is terrible. People talk about it a lot but they don’t really do justice to it. You get four months of good weather at most. After that, it’s like Winterfell from Game of Thrones. I expected the weather would be harsh, but this is far beyond my expectations. I miss not having to pay for heat, to be honest.
Also, this country is ridiculously big. You’ll be in the same state with someone, but you’ll drive six hours just to get to them. And I think the sparse population makes you feel the sheer size of the place more strongly. There’s just so much space with not enough people in it.
I’ve met a lot of Nigerians here, but I also have family here, so I mostly meet people related to the people I already know.
Canadians are generally more laid back than Americans. It’s a very ajebutter country. I’m not sure they have that many problems.
Tell me about working in Canada
When I got here, I had to sign up for the Canadian Board examination to get certified and licensed to practice pharmacy. It’s the hardest thing I’ve had to do in a while.
In Nigeria, I’d been practising for more than ten years. Here, I had to start reading as if I was in school. Even worse, the materials were different from what I learnt in school. The process involved an exam, a few months of monitored internship/apprenticeship and a final assessment.
I bought all the books I needed and started studying for the exam. The whole licensure process cost me about CAD$3,000 and I needed to pass my exams on first attempt. If not, I’d have to do a bridging program that cost about CAD$13,000 at a university in Canada. That was obviously not an option.
So, I stuck to the grind of studying like hell to make sure I cleared everything at onve. The whole process usually takes 12 to 18 months, but in my case, it took two years and I didn’t fail any exam.
It was in the middle of COVID, so I couldn’t do my internship until the lockdown eased in 2021. I got fully licensed in January (2022), and I’ve been practising since.
How are you doing right now?
I can finally say I’m where I want to be. I have my own family and a blossoming life here. I’m finally earning money, but I’m eyeing the government for taking so much in taxes. I don’t really mind anyway, though, because things really work here.
I don’t have to worry about healthcare costs or school fees for my daughter. All in all, I got the life I wanted when I came 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.