Has life ever happened to you when you leave home to pursue your dreams in the land of the unknown? Then, you are not alone.
It started when I stepped off the 55-minute fast train from Manchester Piccadilly to my destination. It was then I realised I was crazy.
Confusing; wasn’t it my decision to pursue a post-graduate degree abroad? I had a jacket to protect me from the horrifying cold, in one hand, and a cup of hot coffee in the other hand. My cousin got the coffee without knowing I’d never had coffee my entire life. My braids nicely packed, I traced my steps to my new dream and new life, the University in South Yorkshire.
I was a week late. Orientation had been concluded. But, as a typical Nigerian, I was unperturbed, as I believed I would always join in the race.
My first day was interesting. I met new people of different races. But I also met a dead-wall: the freezing cold. Yorkshire is cold! I remember saying out loud to myself, “Can’t I just have some Nigerian weather already?” I thought I needed a new life, but I never knew what awaited me! A quick advice here: be brave when life calls, and most importantly, remain brave through the entire process.
Life is in stages and some of these stages make us strong. We learn to withstand curve balls thrown at us at different points in our lives. I mean, it takes a collective effort of your body, heart and soul to scale through some seen and unforeseen hurdles.
Hold on! The process will only make you stronger. As the semester progressed, I adjusted to my environment and the culture of the people. I had the pleasure of enjoying a very organised society. However, I didn’t have the pleasure of spending money as much as I desired; graduate school can be very expensive, especially when your expenses are in pounds sterling. As a very close friend describes it, it’s “the only currency with a first and surname.” Truthfully, it has to be respected.
With a never-give-up attitude, I hunted for jobs. Yes o, jobs – not just one. Two can barely help you maintain a decent lifestyle in England, especially when your Father did not retire from the military or is a Nigerian politician full time. In no time, my bank account was blinking with the powerful figure “£0”. Never in my life had I experienced that. At this point, outstanding school fees, house rent, general expenses, everything kept calling my name. Guys, I had to hide my face, because even my name didn’t have the power to rescue me from this season of my life.
The struggle is real for many Nigerians studying abroad. If you doubt me, casually ask any graduate with a foreign degree.
With two jobs, a challenging graduate programme, and a rigorous 17 months of my life, the season taught me to be more audacious, confident and most importantly, made me realise my heart is beautiful. I was able to survive on £0.
For all those times I slept on the bus from exhaustion and travelled past my stop, all those times my bank charged me for negative balance, for every time my hands froze and eyes hurt upon receiving demand letters from the finance department regarding outstanding fees, for the days I fasted because food was not in sight and water became my best companion, and for the blessed day I spent the night out in the cold, due to funds (if I had the powers, I would have turned snow into physical cash). It was worth every bit. Thank you, England. Thank you, Grad school. At last. A Nigerian survived! I survived.
If you are planning on pursuing your educational dreams in England or a foreign country, stay bold and take the step. You will survive. The process makes you better! You will survive. You are a Nigerian.
Culled from BN.