Before stepping foot in the white man’s land, Everyone said it was one of the highest achievements one could ever attain. That my life would change for the best instantly, the grass is ‘over’ green on this side, that I would have fewer things to worry about and in short, this is a PERFECT LIFE!
No one said the cold would almost make me lose my mind, or that I would have to subject myself to learning ‘phone’ orBritish accent because these people say they find it hard to understand my kind of English.
Nobody told me to be prepared for a culture shock. where I had to get used to calling my lecturers by their first name or in some cases a nickname depending on the lecturer. instead or Mr this or Miss that, Dr Teke or ‘Prof Prof’, Daddy, Baba, or Mummy as I was used to calling my lecturers back at home or else your carry over is just nearby.
Yes, indeed, they told me I would not miss home cooking as such- and I really did not. well…sometimes. with one too many African restaurants and shops you might not miss much.
They also did not tell me I would not be able to eat my Agbalumo, roasted corn, point and kill, Masara (my definition of boiled corn), ube, Mango that drips juice down through your elbow as you use your tongue to put it under control. No one said I would miss eating dried Aya, Kush and Dush, drinking Kunu and Zobo (need I mention pure water in those dry and hot Abuja weather).They did not tell me I would have to fast from Fura and Nunu, fired cheese (Wara), and Ofe Owerri! Lord! the thought of how much I have missed is making me cry sef. which kain life be this?
They forgot to also tell me that Christmas and Easter would be like a day of mourning. you are subjected to staying at home. Nothing like marathon eating from house to house (Including take away meat) or visiting UncleKeske for Christmas Choi.They forgot to say my Amala would be replaced with mashed potatoes with peas and turkey roast or fish and chips and Apple crumbles. This Oyinbo life sef!
They told me I would have a better life here with more opportunities. More opportunities to grow? no doubt. but that better life ehn, more like I knew the true meaning of depression. As a typical Nigerian babe with a knack for psychology, there are certain illnesses we took for granted because the awareness of the severity wasn’t blown up like HIV or Ebola. So you could imagine when I came here and I was told I suffered from mild depression. I was like ‘is that a new type of Malaria?’ When you would always have to RSVP before visiting someone, why wouldn’t people be depressed? You cannot just be in the neighbourhood and say ‘i was passing, and I just wanted to say hello even though half the time, it is a lie’.
Talking about RSVP, nobody informed me that to attend a wedding, common wedding o you would have to RSVP on or before a particular date or else, no food for you. And your RSVP admits one; when in Naija, one invitation card is for ‘and family’ (which really means anybody).
No one ever told me I would know the true meaning of racism. that there is a difference between been black and being African, that even amongst my African people, I would face segregation- when we all need to fight and stand for our rights, we are Africans but when it is time to reap the benefits, I become Nigerian or Ghanian or East African. No one prepared me for the backlash I would receive from these dear white people because of the colour of my skin. I would have to deal with been labelled with an identity when filling out every ‘equal opportunities’ form that says: choose one of the following, African (Black), Black (Carribean), Black (British).
No one prepared my mind for the cynicism of the British man, that when a British man tells you something is good, you have to check the semantics and syntax and when he says ‘ I’m afraid’, just get on those two knees of yours to pray he is not about to throw a bombshell at you.
I wish someone told me that my passport would sometimes stand as a hindrance to getting a good job here. My certificate would in some cases be an obstacle because my boss is probably just a diploma holder and he/she would not want to feel threatened by me. That no matter your degree, if you do not have any hands-on experience, you are going to OYO. I wish someone just whispered to me to be careful of all I read and hear because I would graduate a critic of almost everything cultural and issues on identity.
No one mentioned that the academia in this part of the world is based on competition. A ‘healthy’ competition teachers (un)consciously put in place for everyone to become rivals with each other because of a grade.
Nobody said, holding on to my Christian faith would be one of the toughest decisions I would ever make. Because social liberalism and Christianity have a lot of differences.
Anyway, At least this Oyinbo life has made me love myself more, harness my strengths and work on my weaknesses. it has made me realise that all those times I almost regretted going to a public University prepared me for times such as this.
BUT… then again!
This Oyinbo life sef!