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Before You Run Abroad in Search of Rainbows…

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The average Nigerian gets excited at the prospect of living abroad. There is the belief that greener pastures can only be found outside the country: better education, healthcare, job opportunities, security, e.t.c,

Truth be told, the belief can easily be justified, as the state of the country leaves very little to desire. There is no denying that the economy gets worse with each passing day and offers less and less to young people.

While there are so many benefits of moving living abroad, it certainly is not always rainbows. So many factors need to be considered for smooth transition; and even after the move has been made, several actions have to be taken to ensure you stay above water.

Adanma, a young mother of two, imagined that relocating to Canada would be the easiest move. Having already spent short stints abroad studying: US, Dubai and the UK, and being of the upper middle class, she did not envision she would face any hassles whatsoever. The idea when she enrolled in the Federal Skilled Workers scheme for Canada was to guarantee a safe future for her two young daughters.
She and her husband had planned to move in phases: she moves first and takes the children with her, then the husband visits regularly until they received their citizenship, and then return to Nigeria.

They liquidated some of their assets and prepared mentally for it all and took the leap. While the basic plans worked out, her preparations and expectations were completely dismissed the moment she stepped foot on Canadain soil.

You know, they tell you Canada is great, the people are friendly and things are definitely easier and better…but they don’t tell you the challenges you have to face moving for the first time. Nobody tells you about the obstacles you have to climb before getting to the easy part”.

The first challenge was securing an accommodation. She needed to secure a place to live as soon as possible, and unlike the Nigerian system where credit rating is not necessarily a factor, it was a sort of a requirement for the agents in Oakville, Canada.

Also, the fact that she was not fully aware of the tenancy laws operational in the city made things even more difficult, as she was forced to pay 4 months rent upfront which was illegal. Getting a place, moving and settling in seemed like huge milestone achieved. She and her family enjoyed the first few months, until her husband went back to Nigeria and she was left with the kids. However, the bills started coming: utilities, electricity, e.t.c. And while she still had a stash of cash which she had brought from Nigeria, she soon realized it would not last as long as she had hoped.

Again, the support from her husband back home was not something she could completely rely on, as it was super difficult to get money sent to Canada from Nigeria thanks to the highly unfavourable financial system. She needed to get a job real fast.

Getting a job was not supposed to be a big deal; she had multiple degrees from the US, as well as a wealth of experience. Also, she had decided to live in Oakville as she was looking to avoid the competition in big cities like Toronto. “Toronto is where most people would settle in, but it is extremely difficult to start from there if you don’t have money to wait out the competition. It’s like moving to Lagos or Abuja in Nigeria”.

To her surprise, getting a job there also proved to be the most difficult thing. “I sent in over 100-200 application but no callback. International experience, well -schooled…yet no callback. It was a wakeup call, I began to doubt myself n search myself.

At first, she was convinced that the delay in getting a job was hinged on the fact that she had traveled during the winter, a period when it was difficult to meet people and most companies were no longer hiring, and she only needs to be patient for the season to be over. Oakville was also not a very big city. Of the 158,000 people in the city, just about 20 of them were Nigerians and it took some time for her to connect with these Nigerians.

Before long, Adanma realized she had missed the point all along. It was all about networking. “I soon realized that Canada works a lot like Nigeria. It is all actually about who you know. It came as a shock to me really as I expected it would be like in America and getting a job here would be strictly by meritocracy.” Despite two masters she had to get back to school. For 4- 6 months to learn about Canada’s labour laws, human rights e.t.c and also to make a connection to people in the programme. She volunteered for months afterward and had to downgrade her CV a little bit, before she finally got her first job interview and eventually a job.

While finally getting a job came as a relief, the home front was still a little too lonely. “It has been very lonely; you don’t know people so you tend to be family-oriented. The people around are welcoming. It is like the law requires everyone to be nice. The police are real friends. But then, all the niceness can be a little uncomfortable ‘cos you don’t know when someone doesn’t like you. Also, you cannot really lean on these people as you would your own family. I guess it has helped that my children are independent. They were able to integrate quickly. But for me, it still has been very lonely

The truth about moving abroad in hopes of having a “brighter future” or in order to take advantage of better opportunities, is that sometimes you would have to go through the darkness first to get the results that you’re looking for.

Adannma’s case is one in a million of people who move abroad with the fantasy notions then get slapped by reality eventually. Not everyone is able to bounce back just as she did, which is why we have a number of Nigerian fugitives strolling the streets of foreign countries. They are too distraught and ill-equipped to survive abroad, yet too ashamed to return home.

In the quest for a greener pasture, it is important that you do your research well, have enough savings, and keep your mind open to both positive and negative developments because as much as you would want it to be, moving abroad is not always filled with rainbows.

Photo Credit: Paulus Rusyanto | Dreamstime

8 Comments

  1. Meee

    September 29, 2017 at 6:11 am

    LOL this article is very very true. ´The abroad’ is no rainbow at all. Also getting a job in Canada IS like getting a job in Nigeria. It is who you know and volunteering is a great way of networking. After sending CV’s t’y without any response I finally learnt the hard way?

  2. Tolulope

    September 29, 2017 at 7:16 am

    Nice article.
    When you said ” have enough savings”, like how much will be enough as savings for a single guy? 10m,15m( Naira)etc?
    Thanks

  3. layolomo

    September 29, 2017 at 7:29 am

    Nigerians are skilled in the art of jumping the ‘abroad’ bandwagon without factoring the intial challenges involved.

    First everyone flocked to UK, then America was the next big thing.. now it’s Canada.

    The worst part is after seeking greener pastures and over-flocking these nations, they will render the place useless and create a negative impression of Nigerians.. anywhere you see a concentration of Nigerians abroad, just expect a mess – like Lagos.

    When things aren’t handed to Nigerians on a platter of gold, they will be the first to call friends and family back home to complain about how things are so ‘tough’ abroad.

    If you desire to start a new life, you must be willing to humble yourself and truly start from the basics.. Nigerians need to stop looking for handouts and shortcuts.. afterall, you left your country because things were tough.. stop the whinging and work hard for the life you want..

    Just look at Indian, Chinese and Mexican immigrants abroad. They stick together, work their socks off and are not afraid of humble beginnings – this is why they are thriving.

    • amaa

      September 29, 2017 at 1:29 pm

      Your last paragraph is a bit flawed you need to compere apples to apples. Mexican and Indians and the Chinese started immigrating way longer than the Nigerians . This was as a result of many challenges they had in their homes countries . The Indian Pakistan rift and eventual split saw a lot of Sikhs leave. The Mexican drug wars . The Chinese one child policy and and state crack down etc .
      After the Civil war in Nigeria things got better infact going abroad to school was taken that you couldn’t get into the highly competitive university system in Nigeria . Ask your self have you seen any Nigerian family that are beyond second generation Immigrant in NA. That should explain to you that migration to NA had just started for Nigerians.

      That said Fine boy Trudeu has touted Canada as a land flowing with milk and honey and has not told people the reason for the aggressive push for people to come. The population of Canada is seriously ageing there are more old people than children being born and it will take a century to reverse it. They are not doing immigrants a favor its a symbiotic relationship.

      Dont expect people (highly skilled) that where promised heaven and earth(syrians where promised a lot ) to do survival minimum paying jobs for ever. they may do it for a while but soon resentment may set in . They wait it out and then when their kids are done with school they go back to their country and Canada looses that tax money. If you follow election closely in Canada jobs will determine if JT will remain because its getting tougher.
      the province up north have better success rate for new immigrants because of low cost of housing and population the only down side is food is expensive and it freaking cold almost all year round.

  4. Rampage

    September 29, 2017 at 7:57 am

    Advice to those coming to Canada. Oyibo here is different from anywhere else in the world. To get a “good” job you have to learn to play their game. It is not a utopia even though people usually try to present it that way. If you don’t want undue stress, keep out of debt. Good article.

  5. Ephi

    September 29, 2017 at 8:42 am

    To be honest, if things were working well in Nigeria, people would rather stay back home. It’s just the harsh realities pushing most people out. There are so many cultural differences and adjustments to be made when you relocate, can be tough initially but you eventually get over them, For me though, home will always be home no matter how long I stay out there.

  6. Anon

    September 29, 2017 at 10:43 am

    Nice write-up! Prefer British Columbia to Toronto though!

  7. Mexy

    April 16, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    Please how much do i need to migrate to Canada?

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