“Curaçao is Nigeria 2.0”- Abroad Life

July 23, 2021

The Nigerian experience is physical, emotional and sometimes international. No one knows it better than our features on #TheAbroadLife, a series where we detail and explore Nigerian experiences while living abroad.

You probably haven’t heard about the country on today’s Abroad Life. It’s Curaçao— a small island in the Caribbean. Today’s subject moved there in 2019, and talks about the country, its people, and why she thinks it’s very similar to Nigeria.

When did you decide that you wanted to leave Nigeria?

This isn’t the first time I left Nigeria. I first left for the UK in 2014. I got a degree in biomedical science and returned to Nigeria in 2018. Leaving Nigeria for educational growth just always seemed like the thing to do. 

Medicine was my first love. I couldn’t study it on my first try, so I decided to wait till I was done studying biomedical science to see if I still wanted to study medicine or if I wanted to move forward with my life and get a master’s. The plan was to stay in Nigeria with my family for a few months, then return to the UK to get my medical degree. I already had admissions waiting for me.

What happened?

My dad tricked me into registering for NYSC, and I had to spend the year in Nigeria. I enjoyed NYSC, but it was during that year I found out that getting a medical degree was cheaper in Caribbean countries than in most other places outside Nigeria. Another reason my dad didn’t want me to go back to the UK was cost. The exchange rate had nearly doubled by the time I returned to Nigeria, so he wasn’t looking forward to paying all of those fees. Frankly, we didn’t have the money. 

So you started researching Carribean countries.

I researched and applied for schools. I’d heard about the ABC islands in the Caribbean, but it was when I was applying for my school I actually heard of Curaçao. The school reached out after my application, and after a quick Skype call, I got in. Now it was time to get a visa. 

How did that go?

It was a lot. Curaçao largely operates under the Netherlands because they’re a Dutch colony, which means they don’t have their own embassies — you have to apply through a Dutch embassy. Even the Dutch embassy at Ghana where I processed my visa application was confused about what to do to grant me a Curaçao visa. I had to travel between Nigeria and Ghana four times before I could get it sorted. 


Thankfully, I had friends in Ghana that I could call if I needed anything. The process took about three months, and by January 2019, after my mother confirmed that Curaçao is outside the region where hurricanes happen frequently in the Caribbean, I moved 22 hours away from Nigeria. 

Curaçao location on the World Map
Source: Ontheworldmap.com

22 hours? 

Yep. The flight here takes almost 24 hours. Imagine travelling for that long to a country where they don’t speak your language.

What languages do they speak?

Papiamento, Dutch and Spanish. 

How does that affect you?

I interact with mainly English speakers and a few locals who understand broken English. 

What’s Curaçao like?

The first thing I noticed was the white privilege. If a white person and a black person entered a store at the same time and needed the same service, it’s almost certain that the white person is given priority.

The people here are also Catholic and very conservative; the opposite of what people think Carribeans are like.. For example, unlike other Carribean countries, costumes worn in Curaçao festivals are only slightly revealing.

96 Curaçao Carnival Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

That’s interesting…

The best way to describe Curaçao to people is that it’s Nigeria 2.0. 


First of all, the roads are terrible. And then the corruption is worse. You know how you’ll wake up and hear that a Nigerian politician has stolen money? It’s like that here too. The policemen don’t do anything either. Especially the ones on the streets. People disobey traffic rules all the time. And then the internet here is really slow and expensive. If you forget for one minute that you’re in another country, there are places here that can pass as Yaba market . This place just gives very Nigerian vibes. 

Are the people like Nigerians too? 

Oh, no. A good word to describe them would be laidback, but it’s almost lazy. If you enter a fast food restaurant, and someone takes your order in 15 minutes, be grateful. And it’s not like they’re doing other productive things o. They’re just slow. 

In offices, they close from 12-2 p.m. for lunch break. I don’t mean close like they’re around and not attending to customers. I mean close, like they close the office and everyone leaves for two hours in the middle of the day. If you have something urgent to do, that’s your business. It’s pretty much normalised here. Even foreigners are used to it. 

Are there a lot of foreigners there?

Yes. Indians, Chinese, Colombians, Venezuelans, Belgians, the Dutch and sometimes Americans. We’re two hours away from Colombia, so you’ll run into a lot of sexy Columbian women on the beaches. Americans hardly come here because they don’t find it as fun here as they are in other Caribbean countries.

Curaçao shares a border with Venezuela and so oil trade seeped into the economy here and that’s why the quality of life here is high

One more thing. It’s legal for foreigners to be sex workers here but illegal for natives. Prostitution is very regulated and controlled. There’s only one brothel in the country, but it closed in 2020 because of the pandemic and all the sex workers were sent away. Obviously, there are also sugar baby-sugar daddy relationships that I wish morals would let me get into, but I’ll stop there for now. 

LMAO. What’s school like?

My school is full of Indians. You know how they make us believe on TV that Indians are educationally advanced and smart? It’s all a lie. I’ve never seen people cheat so bad in my life. All many of them do is cheat in exams, tests and everything, it’s absurd. The school is run by Indians, so they don’t crackdown on a lot of the cheating that goes on. 

I’ve made Nigerian friends here and our relationship is so, so wonderful. We all live in the same apartment building, go out together, celebrate everything together and cook for one another. I couldn’t wish for a better friend group.

What happens when you’re done with school?

Typically, we’re meant to stay two years here, then go to the US for the next two years to complete our education. That’s being delayed now because of Covid. So I’m done with my first two years and waiting to get my US visa. 

You know what’s funny?


Sometimes, I wish I could stay here for eight more years.


When a foreigner stays here for 10 years, they get a Dutch passport. I want a European passport because of all the benefits it can offer, you know. But I have to finish my education.

Hey there! My name is David and I’m the writer of Abroad Life. If you’re a Nigerian and you live or have lived abroad, I would love to talk to you about what that experience feels like and feature you on Abroad Life. All you need to do is fill out this short form, and I’ll be in contact.

David Odunlami

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

May 8, 2020

If all my many years of watching overly dramatic spy-thrillers has taught me anything, it’s that Russia, its spies and its president are 100% not to be messed with.  I thought everyone that journeyed to Moscow in 2018 had serious mind,and I still can’t watch Vladimir Putin on the news without avoiding eye contact. I’m […]

March 23, 2020

It’s official. Going forward, life is going to be divided into pre-corona and post-corona times. The world has never experienced and hopefully will never experience anything quite like this virus, which has so far affected around 351 000 people. Which is why we’re feeling more than a little appreciative and kind of nostalgic of all […]


Now on Zikoko

Recommended Quizzes

April 1, 2020

Everyone has a Nigerian bank that matches their personality. You could either be as likeable as GTB, as efficient as Access or as mature as First Bank. Either way, all you have to do is take this quiz and we’ll let you know with almost 100% certainty. So, go ahead:

November 28, 2019

There are so many talented and stunning Nollywood actors that make it hard not to fall in love with them. So, while we all know the likelihood of us ending up with any of them is super low, it’s still fun to imagine a world where we actually stood a chance, and that’s why this […]

November 14, 2019

The fourth season of Big Brother Naija came to an end over a month ago, but the conversation surrounding the housemates is far from over. So, in a bid to keep the fire burning, we decided to create a quiz that tells you which famous member of the ‘Pepper Dem’ gang is your soulmate. Take […]

November 15, 2019

There are two types of people in Nigeria right now: those who are proud Marlians, and those who are still in denial about stanning the divisive star. So, for those who proudly wear the Marlian tag, we made a quiz to test how well you really know Naira Marley. If you get more than 6 […]

More from Citizen

open grazing
September 16, 2021

In Nigeria, up to 2,000 people die every year due to deadly clashes between farmers and cattle herders over rights to openly and freely graze, and the clashes made about 62,000 people homeless between 2015 and 2017.

In reaction, southern states in Nigeria are passing anti-open grazing laws. But what do they mean?

Rivers VAT
September 14, 2021

Rivers State generated ₦15 billion from VAT in June 2021, but only got ₦4.7 billion, whereas Kano State generated ₦2.8 billion naira from VAT in June 2021 and got the same ₦2.8 billion naira it made.

This is allyou need to know about the VAT crises:


Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.