My first international move away from my home country, Nigeria started in 2013 where I moved to England to pursue my first degree. Upon returning back home to Nigeria, I did not expect I would find myself in North America. I moved to Canada in 2018 and it’s been quite a journey. I look back in time and all I see is how moving abroad has changed my way of life in so many ways. There are lots of things I wish someone told me before moving abroad.
Living in a foreign land is a life-changing experience, that is mostly good when you look back in time. Moving abroad is not all happy and jolly as social media and movies showcase. The truth is moving abroad is an experience that no one can prepare you for. Here are a few things I wish I knew before moving abroad:
- Do not book a flight with more than two stopovers. For instance, booking a flight from Lagos, Nigeria to Halifax, Canada with stopovers at Dubai, London and Toronto There is a likelihood you may experience immigration issues in London if you have to transit through a different airport wing/terminal. If you have a weak passport like the Nigerian Passport that requires visas to visit/transit different countries this is highly important consider this.
- Pack all your essentials from your home country which includes food, indigenous makeup brands, electronics( such as gaming console, clipper ) and so on. Whatever you think is essential and unique to your country of origin be sure to pack it up. Believe me, it is worth paying excess luggage for. The reason is that things may be more expensive to buy or it may be hard to find them.
- No two countries are the same. This was a tough one for me to accept that England & Canada are not the same. Whether it is job hunting, credit system, tax or education system. It is all very different. I am glad I was able to realize this and quickly adjust.
- The first few months are the hardest as you will feel homesick and experience culture shock. All these play a part in accepting your new environment. Sometimes staying in this period for a long time can let one slip into depression.
- Winter is as cold as you hear about. I had to learn the art of layering up and buying appropriate thermal clothing.
- Making friends and finding your tribe takes time. As much as it is fun being friends with people from other nationalities, you also want friends who are from your home country. Depending on what country you are living in, it may be hard to find.
- Maintaining friendships from back home can be hard to keep up with especially because you are missing major milestones in their life. The fear of missing out becomes real.
- Time difference changes everything – friendships and relationships.