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 struggled with loneliness when he moved to the UK to increase his chances of earning more last year. He talks about living away from his friends and family, and how he’s scared of getting back into the dating scene in the UK because it’s been toxic to him.
When did you first decide to move abroad?
July 2020. I’d always been satisfied with living in Nigeria until I weighed my potential earning options and realised that my chances of living a better life and earning more would drastically get better by moving abroad. Once I realised this, I didn’t waste any time. I quickly found a master’s programme in the UK and applied.
Why the UK?
The most popular options before me were the US and the UK, and I didn’t want to go to the US because of all the violence and racism I’d seen online. The UK was a more attractive option because of the new law where Nigerians who go there for master’s get extra two years visas to work.
That makes sense.
Processing a visa was straightforward. From the time I decided to the time I was in the UK, it took six months.
Expectations vs Reality: UK Edition.
I quickly realised that moving abroad doesn’t solve all your problems or make you happy. People see pictures of people who have moved abroad glowing in the sun and looking relaxed and automatically think they have no problems. It’s not true. People who move abroad deal with bills they’ve not experienced before, and sometimes it can get overwhelming. If you hear that someone earns £1,000 in a month, and you’re screaming because you’ve converted it to naira, you’re far from reality, because, after taxes and bills, they can be taking home as little as £200. Moving abroad and seeing it play out first-hand helped me understand this.
Another thing is loneliness. I landed in the middle of a lockdown in January 2021 and went to live with a family member and his wife. For six months, I hardly left the house, and I was losing my mind. I didn’t have friends here to talk to or activities to do. I was just sitting in front of my laptop and attending classes. The loneliness slowly brought sadness. I couldn’t even interact with my friends in Nigeria so much anymore because it seemed like everyone was busy and had gone their ways.
Did it get better?
When the lockdown was called off in June, I was finally able to go to school, and that’s when I started making friends and going out. It was only then I felt better.
What’s school like?
My programme is one year, so it ends soon, but it’s much more difficult than people make studying abroad to be. Many times before I came here, I heard that “If you can do school in Nigeria, you can do school anywhere.” Omo, it’s not true o. If you come here and lose focus of your education, you would so fail. You have to attend classes, read, do your assignments and talk to the professors about things you don’t understand.
What are your plans for after the programme?
I’m looking at getting back into the dating scene.
Ouu… What’s the dating pool there like?
It’s bad. If you go on Twitter, you’ll see a lot of people complaining about how the dating pool in the UK is terrible, and they’re not wrong. In the few months that I’ve tried to explore it, I’ve seen things that have blown my mind. I’ll try to be a bit more specific — It’s hard to find a UK babe that genuinely cares. I’m not talking about only UK citizens o. The Nigerians that move here and stay for a long time become that way too. With babes in Nigeria, at least you can see some form of humanity in the way they interact. Even if they reject you, it’s with humanity. Here, anything you see, take it like that.
Do you have any personal experiences?
I reconnected with an old friend that used to live in Nigeria, and after some time, we decided to link up. She’s been in the UK for much longer than me. Because I live far from London where she lives, I decided to take the 90-minute train there, stay with a friend in East London, and then on the night we were to go out, travel to West London to pick her up. I got to her house and stayed at the door for three hours in the blistering cold, ringing the bell and calling her phone.
When she finally came outside, she gave some flimsy excuse about why she didn’t pick. No apologies. I didn’t want to fight, so I asked her what our plans for the night were and she said, “I don’t want to go out again. I just don’t feel like.” Just like that. I was stunned. I tried to explain to her that I’d just come from another city to see her, and she just said, “So go back.” And that was it. I never heard from her again.
I know a lot of people that have experienced similar things here in the UK. Women here? Heartless.
How do you intend to go back in the dating pool like that?
The plan is to date someone fresh from Nigeria o. Someone that hasn’t stayed here for long and imbibed the culture.
You’re killing me. Apart from dating, do you have any other plans?
I hope to find a good job, and after my two-year visa expires, I hope to apply for five-year permanent visa and renew it from time to time.
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.