In recent years, a growing number of Nigerians have embarked on a journey known as “Japa,” a term used to describe the act of relocating to countries like Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States in search of better opportunities.
While this migration is often seen as a significant achievement, the reality for many expatriates involves a complex tapestry of challenges, ranging from financial burdens to cultural adjustments.
The Initial Illusion: Giselle Okorie’s Story
For Giselle Okorie, a US-based Nigerian, the initial excitement of moving abroad was quickly replaced by the harsh realities of survival in a foreign land.
Despite the sense of accomplishment, the burden of paying bills and the need to stand on one’s own two feet became apparent. Okorie highlighted the exorbitant tuition fees for international students, revealing that they often pay 2.5 times more than their local counterparts.
Additionally, she emphasized the harsh reality of racism, a phenomenon that she says didn’t hurt until it started to hurt.
The Weight of Hard Work: Struggles in the US
Working endless shifts to make ends meet, Okorie emphasized the sacrifice required to afford to live in a foreign country.
The punctuality demanded by the system added another layer of pressure, leaving her fatigued but proud of her achievements.
She contrasted this with the more relaxed lifestyle of peers in Nigeria, who have the cultural freedom to relax at their parents’ houses without facing the same level of stress.
Family Struggles: Gladys Okoroafor’s Experience in the UK
Gladys Okoroafor, who relocated with her family to the UK, shared a different set of challenges. Living in a single-room apartment in southern Wales, they faced restrictions on the use of appliances from co-tenants.
Despite the perception of affluence due to the exchange rate, the family found it difficult to make ends meet. Gladys worked as a caregiver in an elderly home, dispelling the notion that all Nigerians abroad enjoy financial prosperity.
Diverse Occupations: Surviving Menial Jobs Abroad
Some Nigerians, facing financial constraints, engage in various occupations to survive. From hospital volunteers to security guards, caregivers, and cleaners, these individuals take on menial jobs to navigate the financial challenges abroad.
While these roles may not be glamorous, they represent the determination of Nigerians to endure and succeed.
Success Amid Struggles: William Ajayi’s Perspective
Despite the hurdles, individuals like William Ajayi, studying in the UK with a work permit, and his children attending school free of charge, exemplify success stories.
While acknowledging the challenges, Ajayi highlighted the financial rewards and the overall improvement in quality of life compared to living in Nigeria.
The Transformative Journey: A Personal Perspective
For a young Nigerian who migrated to the UK, the experience was described as both challenging and interesting. Emphasizing the transformative power of challenges, she reflected on the personal growth and toughening up that occurred as a result. She stressed the importance of having a clear personal motivation for moving abroad, beyond societal trends.
Drivers of Migration: Insights from Philips Consulting
According to a recent report by Philips Consulting, the top three reasons Nigerians relocate are better job opportunities, insecurity challenges, and higher education. This reflects a broader trend of individuals seeking improved prospects and a safer environment.
Conclusion: Navigating the Complex Landscape of “Japa”
While the stories shared by Nigerians abroad depict a challenging landscape, they also reveal resilience, determination, and the pursuit of a better life. “Japa” is not just a physical relocation but a transformative journey that tests individuals in various ways, ultimately shaping their character and outlook on life. As more Nigerians consider migration, these stories provide valuable insights into the multifaceted nature of the experience.
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