Challenges you Could Face Outside Nigeria

by Uche Onegeria 8 Feb , 2016  

Yes! I did not say “might”. I said “will”. It is truly exciting to leave the country for another. You got your Visa and you have left for vacation or to pursue some advanced degree. However, once you leave the shores of your country, the stress you went through to get your Visa will be nothing compared to what is ahead of you.
This article is for the countries that I am personally affiliated with in North America: the United States and Canada.

These stressors include:

Identity issue (Culture shock): You will feel like a fish out of water. You might receive certain things that conflict with who you are and reject what is truly you because you are in a state of confusion. Do not fret. Do not be in a hurry to make it work. It is normal and you will adjust in no time.

Jet Lag: Oh! The dreaded and well known jet lag which has plagued everyone including presidents, models and your everyday Jane Doe will affect you too. However, depending on how hard you work to overcome this, you will also adjust in no time.

Phone Line: Since you will not have a phone when you get into these foreign countries, you might want to get yourself to an area with a free WiFi hotspot so you can calls using Google Hangouts or pay for Localphone or Rebtel or Naira Calls or some other Voice over IP program online. Google Hangouts is free and will call any line in North America for Free. Of course, your smart mobile phone from Nigeria or tablet or a laptop can be used to make these calls.

Accommodation: Hmm. If you did not secure accommodation before you left your home country, this will destabilize you a great deal. Here are a few tips for you to overcome this:
  • If going for vacation, I am sure you would have worked out something with a relative or a motel but if you did not or
  • if someone disappoints you, just Google phrases like “hotels near me” and get that taken care of.
  • If you are a student and you get in, with no clue where to stay (although I would advise you to find some of your classmates via Facebook and arrange something temporal before leaving your home country), you can contact your Student Union Rep or your Nigerian Students’ Association reps to help you with some options. Or you can ask the representatives at the airport for directions.
Some people claim that the local (Pentecostal) churches could help you secure accommodation either by getting you introduced to a member that needs a roommate or they could help with resources to make that happen. What matters is that you start out with an ideal temporal location, then gradually proceed to make arrangements for a long term accommodation.

Unfamiliar territory: You must know how to use Google Map. Do not even think that you can find directions on your own in a strange country. You need Google Map! If you do not know anything, know how to find the direction from where you are to another location.

Language barrier (Accent/Intonation): You will be hit with this with full force. I mean, you will not understand why they will not understand what you are saying. I have some reasons for you. You speak too fast or in a very low tone (maybe because you are shy). Or you just are not pronouncing the words correctly.

Let me give you an example: Americans pronounce all their r’s so if you are pronouncing something like “water”, you better pronounce it with emphasis on the “r” like it is in the dictionary. Nigerians would usually pronounce it as “wota”. Another example is “work” which Nigerians pronounce as “wok”. You will not believe what huge difference something that little will make in your conversation with a foreigner.

Currency reconciliation and high cost of living: Money will leave you more than it will come in. Let us face it; you might not be able to work in the first few months. Be very careful with your money. The monthly rent for a room could be as high as $500 (best case scenario), phone bill from $40/month and above which means you need to budget wisely. Limit your restaurant-eating habit and preferably prepare your meals at home. The glitz and glamour of the malls will beckon you every time you walk past them. If you cannot resist the urge to splurge on some fashionable item, do not go near the malls. And if you have to go, only buy what you need.

Weather and Clothing: If you have an idea of the weather condition in the country you are relocating to, you should at least have a few appropriate clothing that suits the weather condition. You do not want to walk into a minus 25 degree Celsius weather in your shorts and flip-flops. If you do not know what the weather condition will be, just Google something like “Calgary weather” or “San Antonio” weather.

 

Loss of close family ties and stress of having new ones: You will miss Nigeria more than you ever thought possible. Your only link with your loved ones will be over the phone. If you left a lover back home, good luck with the phone bill and making the relationship work. People have done it, so who knows? May be you can too. Do not stress yourself over having new friends. Joining groups and volunteering can help you ease in gradually.

Foreign food: Of course, you do not have to settle for burgers, Mac & Cheese and the likes. There are African stores, Superstore (if you are in Canada) and even Wal-Mart and other grocery stores have intercontinental food sections where you can buy some items similar to what you used to have back home.
However, be careful while preparing our African delicacies in your house. There have been stories of people that their landlords/landladys have sent out of their apartments because of the strong smell of our foods. So, please be conscientious when preparing our African meals. There are some foods that Nigerians do not make when they are living with other people. You know them *winks*


The following applies to Students

Plagiarism: Your research skills will be put to test as a student. You will get an “F” for copying any material (even a picture) from elsewhere and submitting it as yours without also quoting your sources. The law in the educational system abroad states that if the idea is not yours, re-write it and then quote the author, who is the original owner. If you do not know the source, do not use it. If in doubt, do not use it. You also cannot have an author in your reference page and not have any idea from them in your work.

Public speaking (presentations): Nigerians are not known for being great at this. Do not take it personal, it is true. Americans start from kindergarten to prepare children for public speaking. Do not worry. Practise your presentation before the D-Day. If you practise (especially if there is a time limit on your presentation) within this time frame, you will be fine. You will also generally improve with time and more presentations. This is incorporated in your school curriculum to prepare you for the real life outside your school to enable you cope in your workplace where presentations will be the bane of your existence. It will also help you confidently carry out research and sell your idea to your managers.

Class commitment and assignment delivery: Coming from Nigeria where you are rarely held accountable for the quality of your works and submission deadlines, this will frustrate you. When your lecturer gives you 5 days for a task, you better get it ready by then. Attendance is compulsory. You will own this experience because no one will pick you up if you fall. This is great as you will learn independence and accountability by the time you complete your program (especially if you are open-minded).

Confidence and Proper classroom behaviour: I put these items here because you need to confidently be you. You need to know that this environment thrives in openness. “Difference” is embraced and celebrated. No one will abuse you (like we’ll do in the Nigerian environment) for asking stupid questions. You will be told repeatedly that no question is stupid anyway. Your class is not crowded like your Nigerian universities so relax, listen to your lecturers, take great notes and try to understand what is being taught. If there is anything that you not understand, indicate your intention to contribute (maybe by raising your hand or just speaking up when a question is asked) and smartly ask your question. Asking questions in class will help you to effectively understand the topic before you walk away from the class. This will make you not pile up a huge mountain of question marks in your head only to struggle through your notes shortly before exams. It will also earn you admiration and respect from your lecturers and fellow students especially if your question is one vital one that they never thought about or one that they will learn a great deal from.

I am sure there are more of them. Please, discuss your experience/s in the comment section below.
Thank you.

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