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.
This week, we’re catching up with a young Nigerian, living life in a country pretty much tailor-made for enjoyment – The Netherlands, where Amsterdam and The Red Light District can be found.
The Netherlands is one of the more abroady-abroads for Nigerians. Almost everything about the country is different from Nigeria. It has qwhite the white population; of its 17 million inhabitants, only about 700,000 are of Afro-Dutch ancestry. This made it a big change for a cute ass brown-skin Nigerian, like the subject of today’s story- Fifi Oddly. I mean, look at:
The Netherlands is also different from Nigeria on their stance on homosexuality: they don’t think gay/lesbian marriages are a big deal. About 78% of its population is all for legalising homosexual marriages. Nigeria, not so much. 14 years ring any bells?
Perhaps one of the most distinguishing features of the state is the extent to which they jaiye. You think Lagos nightlife slaps? Try visiting Amsterdam where marijuana and prostitution are legalised. It has a Red-Light District pretty much dedicated to sin. So we had to ask:
How does it feel to have grown up in Nigeria, and then moved to a country where you can wear camo and smoke marijuana at the same time?
It’s wild. One of my favourite places to visit in the Netherlands is Amsterdam. I have to take a train to get there, but it is worth it. One of my coolest memories is being out at night with friends when some guy on the street offers us weed. As if that wasn’t enough, he offered to roll the weed, and he did all of this, in the open. It was wild.
And where was SARS when this was happening? What a wow. So what are three things everyone should know about the Netherlands?
1. They ride bicycles everywhere.
2. They have a great public transport system.
3. They drink a lot of beer!
So they have a Red Light District, a great transport system and a beer-drinking society. We see why anyone would want to move there. But why did you?
I moved to the Netherlands in 2018 for work. I had worked as a developer in a company in Nigeria, but I was ready for something else. I began searching for freelance roles for developers. Literally typing ‘freelance developer opportunities’ everywhere and sending out email applications where I could. I finally got an employment opportunity from my current employers, only thing was, the role wasn’t freelance, I had to be present at the office — in the Netherlands — to make it happen.
Yep. So I decided to move. Although, I almost didn’t know what was happening until it was a day before my flight and I was packing my bags to leave my family and friends to move to a strange country.
Wild. So I’ll be honest, there’s something about saying ‘the Netherlands’ that just makes my green passport shake. How hard was it to get a visa there?
Man, it was so hard! I applied in July and I didn’t get it until August. The first thing you should know is, the visa office is in the Republic of Benin, so I had to make quite a few trips there. Then the documents they needed, man. At some point, they wanted the incorporation documents of the company hiring me. Asking for that would have been a little too much. Although my company helped with speeding up the process, I probably wouldn’t have been able to get the visa so fast, if they weren’t so hands-on.
We live to try another day. Did you have any friends or family in the Netherlands?
At the time I landed in this country, I knew a total of one person, and one person only.
Plus we weren’t even in the same state, or even that close to begin with, so essentially I didn’t know anyone. But again, my company came to my rescue and made sure I settled in pretty well, and very stress-free.
How did they do that?
Well, when I arrived, they put me up in a hotel for about a month, allowing me some time to settle in. They also made sure to introduce me to people in my office So I wasn’t too lonely when I first got here and now it feels almost like home.
Hmm. You know what they say, home is where the Jollof is. How easy is it to get Nigerian food over there?
Where I live there’s just one place to get Jollof rice and Nigerian food, so it hasn’t exactly been easy oh.
Okay, so back to work. How different is it working as a developer in The Netherlands, having already worked as one in Nigeria?
The difference is crazy. Although, I’m pretty fortunate with where I’m working. There’s a lot of patience to put you through the ropes here, which was lacking in Nigeria. The work ethic here is different. They allow you to take mental health days off when you’re feeling overwhelmed. They pay for us to have therapy, there’s a place to rest within my office. It’s surreal.
Will they be open to adopting a grown adult from Africa without tech capabilities because?
*Har, har, har* (But seriously)
Okay, this is random. How do you get to work every day?
I ride a bicycle. I could walk, but it’s convenient and just about everyone rides bicycles here.
Nigerian morning sun could never. Is there a Nigerian community around where you live?
You know there is! I didn’t find them until I happened on a church around me, and it was just about filled with Nigerians. That was a good thing for me. If I miss home, there’s always the option to go back there and be around them.
Have you ever experienced any racism?
Never in a brazen manner. Like no one is outrightly calling you the N-word, but there are definite undertones. I can’t explain it, but it’s there. It’s unmissable.
So would you ever move back to Nigeria?
Man. On some days I’m so sure I’m going to move back to Nigeria, and do meaningful work and make an impact here. But other times I’m like, we die here oh. A part of me is pretty sure I’ll be moving back to Nigeria. I don’t know man.
Okay, last question. A night out in Lagos, or a night out in Amsterdam?
Man this. I’ve had some great times in Lagos. One time, my friends and I were partying and we decided going to Makoko at night, via a boat would be a good idea.
No really, it seemed like such a good idea. It was late at night or early in the morning and we got to this shed that had some thugs and we partied with them and it became this big fight. It was fun but risky as hell. But then there’s Amsterdam. It has a vibe in Amsterdam I can’t ever replicate.
I could move to Amsterdam, it’s something I’m probably going to end up doing. But I don’t know, I can’t really pick.