Abroad Life: We Asked 7 Nigerians The Worst Parts About Living Abroad

April 10, 2020

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.

The grass always looks greener on the other side. For many Nigerians who leave or plan to leave the country in search of higher education, job opportunities, welfare, closeness with family etc, that saying just might as well be tramp stamped, peeking just a little as they bend to weigh their bags at check-in.

That said, these countries aren’t always what they seem (okay, maybe they are 85% of the time, but still). We asked 7 Nigerians their least favourite things about living abroad, and this is what they had to say:

Hungary – Erutay

Erutay moved to Hungary for work, with some help from the good guys over at AIESEC. She has since learnt to love a lot about Hungary, agonist everything really. Well, except for that one big economic thing:

” If I had to say something else about working in Budapest, it’s that hmm — the pay?… Not too, too great.”

“Hungary is in Europe right? But its currency is the Hungarian Forint (HUF). To get an idea of the exchange rate, just know ₦30,000 is like 25,000 HUF. A high portion of the country lives on less than €20,000 a year. But while you might think that’s not a lot of money, with the exchange rate, it earns you a decent living in Budapest. So from my salary, I can do a bunch of things but. I can’t do many things”

Read her full story here.

Indonesia – Dexter

Here’s the thing, Dexter, who lives in Ireland but might be getting grim outside the club, because as far as Indonesia is concerned, he can’t get in.
Here’s Dexter on the visa application process to Indonesia.

“My friends and I were planning to go to Indonesia in the summer of 2020. While I was doing some research for the group, we found that Nigerians need to get a ‘Calling visa’ that’s a special approval from the immigration boss in Indonesia’s capital – Jakarta.”

“Then we also had to find a sponsor who would be an Indonesian citizen or permanent resident, who would then be required to go for their own interview too. My friends and I didn’t feel welcome, so we won’t be going there anymore.”

Read his full story here.

Canada- Chinedum

Chinedum moved to Canada for her masters, after obtaining a bachelor’s degree from the US. Even though these two countries make up two of the holy trinity of countries Nigerians move to (with the UK as the last), here’s what she had to say on both of them:

The US

“Before I left (The US), I got so scared of my immigration status … I can’t even imagine what things are like for Nigerians with the current Nigerian ban. We (my friends and I) were all meant to go on a trip to Barbados, but they were so scared of not being able to re-enter the country because of the ban, we had to move the trip to Los Angeles. Their president is actually wilding”


“When I get eventually get a job in Canada after grad school, my peers working the same job in the US will be making more. That’s just how it is. And that’s not even counting the fact that the Canadian dollar is weaker than the U.S dollar. it doesn’t help that the actual opportunities are so concentrated in Canada.”

The UK – Rasheedat

Has lived in the UK since she was 17, in that time she’s experienced everything there is to experience as a black, immigrant Muslim in the UK. But her take on its lending culture had us paying attention.

When I was leaving university, I left with £55,000 in debt. Now, I’m doing my masters, I’ll leave with maybe another £11,000. The UK pushes you to live in debt. It’s how their system works. If you’re buying a phone, you get it on contract, pay £50 every month. My mom was telling me the other day that she’s owing Very (where we got our wardrobe) money because she picked the monthly payment plan. See, you can buy things on credit from Tesco, the grocery store, Marks and Spencer, Debenhams, just take the credit and be going.

When I was opening my student account, they offered me an overdraft of £1500. I said please, I don’t want gbese. I really don’t like owing. But the thing is, you don’t get the option. I actually had to take the overdraft because I wouldn’t have been able to open the account otherwise

Read her full story here.

Anonymous – South Africa

South Africa had had a fair share of press rounds convering its population’s xenophobia. We spoke to a Nigerian with South African lineage about the experience of Nigerians and black immigrants in South Africa.

On her nationality

“Despite being half Nigerian and half- South African … “In South Africa, once you’re an immigrant or you have immigrant parents, citizenship is just… no. My best friend, whose parents are Nigerian, was born here and speaks Zulu like she owns the place. We’re both toting permanent residency permits.”

On immigrant treatment

In Central Johannesburg … a portion of the city that the government has pretty much left to rot. So immigrants, for reasons beyond me, get the blame for its deteriorated state. To some people, immigrants living in an area can cause it to go into disrepair. So it’s always an easy target … Weeks ago, this bonafide South African, mixed-race woman got arrested, because, and I quote “She looked and smelled like an Ethiopian.”

Read the full story here.

Germany – Segun

Germany has a ton going for it. Those cars, that infrastructure etc. What it’s lacking in however, is a little neighbourly love. Segun tells us more:

It’s a cold place out here oh. Literally and figuratively. Some Germans can be chatty, but the majority aren’t.  And it spreads to even immigrants, everyone is just eyes front on the streets. I’ve had my neighbour for two years and I think I’ve only seen him once. Maybe he has a baby? I saw a stroller outside his house one time.

Read the full story here.

Grenada – Hamid

For all intents and purposes, Grenada is paradise, heaven on earth. Not so heavenly, however? It’s parcel delivery system. Hamid, who spent a few years in Grenada for medical school rants about it.

“Shipping costs! Oh my God, it is so expensive to ship anything here. Say you get an iPhone for $1000, just know you’re going to spend like $500 clearing it.”

Let’s add electronics prices and a little driving craziness to that mix

“Electronics are unreasonably expensive here. Just smuggle them in if you can. And lastly, they drive like crazy people here. Which is extra scary because the roads are very narrow and hilly so it’s just hard to reconcile with the jeje lifestyle everyone lives. Like they literally rush everywhere, just to get to their destinations and resume their quiet lives. Blows my mind.”

Read his story here.

Want more Abroad Life? Check in every Friday at 12 PM (WAT) for a new episode. Until then, read every story of the series here.

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