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 this week’s Abroad Life, our subject is a student in the UK. He tells us about why he chose to leave, the Nigerian “hiccups” he had on his relocation journey, and how he’s dealing with the loneliness of being far from home.

When did you realise you wanted to move abroad?

It had always been in the pipeline for me. Since my final year in 2018, I was certain I wanted to leave Nigeria. It’s kind of a family thing. All my siblings are outside the country, so it felt natural.

Why did you choose the UK?

Should I be honest? I didn’t. I wanted to go to Canada via the study route, but that didn’t work out because Nigeria was holding my leg, for some reason. It was always either that or the US.

LMAO. How did Nigeria hold your leg?

I applied to the University of Saskatchewan in October 2020. I’d filled the forms and even paid for WES, but my transcripts weren’t sent until September 2021.

Wait… what?

Haha, yes. By that time, my application had expired, and I couldn’t apply for a visa anymore. You see, I attended OAU, so having issues with transcripts is a rite of passage. I even tried to send the results I printed out myself from the school portal, but it wasn’t acknowledged. That was how the Canada chapter closed for me sha.

So, what did you do next?

I picked up Project Management and Human Resources and wanted to study those at a school called Westcliff University in the US. I’d already applied and done the interviews, but at some point, my momentum just dropped. 

So I stuck to my job in Lagos until August 2021 when my siblings came home to Nigeria. We were having a family conversation and my brother advised me to try the UK route. That’s where the idea of coming to the UK started. 

Sweet. So how did that go?

At that time, I still hadn’t received my transcripts. So I connected with a lecturer back in OAU to speed up the process. In the meantime, I contacted an agent my brother had told me about. He asked me to send all the required documents, the school I wanted and the payment plan I’d like. I also picked the January entry period for my admission because I wanted to get in as soon as possible. I sent everything but still didn’t have my transcript. It came in four days later.

Finally! How did that feel?

I was just so glad to have finally got it. I sent it to the man and got an email, the next Monday, that I’d applied to Teeside University for an MSc. in Applied Psychology. This was in December. By Friday, I was offered admission. I paid all the required fees using money I had saved and with help from family, but around the same time, my admission in the US came through.

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That’s awesome! But how did you make the choice?

I chose the UK because, even with my admission, a visa to the US is not guaranteed. My chances were a lot higher with the UK. I got my visa in January and started preparing to move, which I did on the 20th of February [2022].

Did you tell people you were leaving?

Not really. The people close to me knew everything from the start, so there wasn’t much to hide from them.

Expectation vs reality: How has it been so far?

When I got here, I actually understood the meaning of “it’s so cold outside”. I expected it to be cold but not this cold. Back in Nigeria, I’d gone to Yaba to buy some jackets, but they couldn’t withstand the cold here. I had to buy new jackets.  

Also, everyone minds their business with so much seriousness. If it’s not directly affecting them, they don’t care. It’s a good thing, coming from a place where everybody wants to know everything about you.

Another thing that shocked me was the job-hunting process. In Nigeria, if you had to apply for a blue-collar job, all you had to do was talk to someone and you either got the job or you didn’t. But here, even for the role of a janitor, you need to have a CV and some experience in that line of work. Everywhere I went, I kept getting asked for at least three months of UK work experience, even though I was new to the UK. I eventually got a job that required me to work ten hours a day.

How do you combine a job with school?

I go to work from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. the next day. After that, I go straight to classes which start from 9 a.m. till around 2 p.m. Once classes are over, I go to my apartment to sleep till it’s time for work.

That sounds draining. How has it affected your relationships?

Oh God. Where do I even start? My social life since I got here has been reduced to zero. It’s probably because I’m not a very outgoing person anyway. I just prefer to be by myself in my apartment. Another thing I’ve noticed is most Nigerians here are all about the hustle. Everyone is focused on stacking money. 

But there are a lot of Nigerians here, so I may have a different answer to this question a few months from now.

What’s your favourite thing about the UK?

I really like that there’s dignity of labour here. No one treats an artisan differently because of their type of work. I like that a lot.

What are your future plans? Do you see yourself staying in the UK after school?

I really like it here, but my plans are still open-ended. I’d love to explore the idea of moving to the US at some point.

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Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.