“I Spent My Christmas at the Airport” — Nigerians Talk About Their First Holiday Post-Japa 

January 5, 2023

Holidays should be spent with family and friends. But what happens when you’re in a different country, far from home? From spending the day at work to seeking companionship on dating sites, these Nigerians share their 2022 holiday season experience.

“I had to cook and eat alone” — Grey

I’m used to spending my holidays with family. Even when I stayed in Lagos for a year, I spent it with an uncle. So being in a space with no family members was a bit lonely. I had to cook myself and eat alone while talking to my family members over the phone. But I spent New Year’s Eve dancing at a bar — that was fun. I had to work on New Year’s Day sha.

“People in the UK have more Christmas spirit” — Riri

Besides the fact that I’m still trying to find my feet, so I had to work on Christmas Day, I was excited about my first Christmas in the UK. Unlike Nigeria, where there’s not a lot of decoration, there were Christmas decorations and songs everywhere! The people seemed more high-spirited. It was also great to experience snow for the first time. I’m positive this year will be better because I’d have more friends, maybe a man, so I’d join and do “me and mine”.

“Nobody gave me rice and chicken” — Ifeanyi

These people are stingy. None of my neighbours gave me rice, chicken, drink, even muffins I didn’t see. I don’t even know if people wear Christmas clothes because everyone’s wearing a jacket because of the cold in London. 

Even though I’d taken a Christmas shift to reduce the loneliness, I still felt lonely. The roads were very dry. I had to video call my family. I didn’t want to feel that loneliness again, so I visited my friend for New Year’s. 

“I spent the day between video calls with family and Netflix” — Nnanna

I planned to spend Christmas with my sister in Toronto, but due to a snowstorm, there was a sit-at-home mandate between December 23rd to 27th, 2022 in Ontario, where I stay. I was indoors with my flatmate and a girl I met off a dating app. Christmas was pretty boring; I spent the day alternating between video calls with family members and watching movies online. Unlike Nigeria where people spend the holidays going out, not only are all the stores in Ontario closed, everyone spends time indoors with family.

“I chose to work for the double pay” — Tayo 

They may love Christmas here, but they’re not as loud about it as in Nigeria. While their focus is on gifting their loved ones and spending time together, Nigerians throw parties and share food. This is why it’s especially lonely around the holidays here. Because I’d already anticipated the loneliness, I picked up more work shifts during the period. They were going to pay double, and it seemed like a better way to spend the holidays than just scrolling through my phone and sleeping.

“I spent my Christmas at the airport” — Tolani 

I took time off work to spend the holidays with my family in Turkey. But there were complications with the visa I had, so I spent my Christmas moving from one airport to another trying to find a flight. I had to give up and return to Canada on December 26th. 

READ NEXT: My First Week in Cambridge: Chasing Harvard and a Sense of Home 

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