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.
Today’s subject on Abroad Life is a 24-year-old woman who moved to the UK last year after getting ghosted by someone she just met. She talks about quitting her frustrating job in Nigeria, meeting a guy and leaving the country because he suddenly stopped talking to her.
When did you decide that you wanted to move to the UK?
From time to time, I make spontaneous decisions. Moving to the UK was one of those decisions.
I got a job in Lagos in March 2019 as a travel consultant. My best friend worked at a travel agency, and she travelled a lot. She’d go to an African country one day, and the next, she would be a country outside Africa. I also liked travelling, so I was excited to resume the job.
In my first month, the company sent me to Dubai. But as time went by, I didn’t get other travel opportunities. Apparently only higher ups travelled frequently , and then sometimes a newcomer goes with them. It wasn’t fair. The rest of my job was me answering calls and inquiries. It was like I was a call centre agent.
Do you know why they did this?
No. But I found out why I travelled to Dubai in my first month when a friend that worked at the same company decided she was tired of working there and quit. She had to pay the company the entire cost of every trip she had made because she hadn’t spent up to a year there.
That’s when I realised that making me travel was to hold me down for at least a year. If I decided to leave, I would have to pay everything the Dubai trip cost them — flights, hotels, everything.
How long were you there for?
One year and five months. The Dubai trip was the only one I made. You could say the reason we didn’t travel was because of COVID, but even without COVID, that’s how the company was run.
Damn. Did you feel held down?
Absolutely. It was crazy. It was when I was thinking of what I would do if I left that job that masters in the UK started to sound like a great idea.
Is that when you applied?
No. After I quit in August 2020, I was bored. So one day, I downloaded Tinder, set up an account and started looking to make friends. I met a few people. I’m still friends with some of them. But there was one guy that stood out.
He was pretty cool. He had just gotten out of a relationship, so he needed someone to talk to. We were platonic friends, but I didn’t want him to see me as a stop-over before he got back with his ex. So I told him that if they ever started talking again, he should let me know. I wasn’t going to stop being friends with him; I just wanted to know.
What happened next?
We finally met for the first time. He was opening a salon and needed a make-up artist to help with the actors’ make-up for the photoshoot. I offered to do it for free. The next day, he ghosted me. You want to know the reason? He got back with his ex.
I was livid. I felt used. And that was when I decided that I couldn’t be in Nigeria anymore. I couldn’t be in the same space as him. So I went online, found schools, applied for my masters and got an admission.
How long did the process take?
By October, I was in the UK.
Whoa. What was the process like?
Because of the energy I put into it, it was pretty fast. My mum was worried I was doing too much at once. She didn’t want me to come crashing down if it didn’t work out. I gave out all my clothes and packed a box immediately I decided I wanted to travel.
We found a school, paid 50% of the fees, and I applied for my visa and waited 15 working days to get it. It was the longest and scariest wait of my life.
The day I got the text that I’d gotten the visa was probably the happiest day of my life. The delivery company that was meant to bring my passport to my house almost postponed the delivery date after I already booked my flight. I threatened to drag them on social media, and my passport was in my house that day. A few days later, I left.
Was this your first time going to the UK?
It was my first time, yes.
What were you expecting?
I just wanted to leave Nigeria. My sister had told me it would be cold, so I was expecting the cold.
What was it like when you got to the UK?
It was way colder than I expected. You’d feel the cold immediately you enter the European airspace. Thankfully, I was prepared.
When I landed, the first thing I noticed was that everything was extremely organised. Nobody was jumping queues. Everything just seemed to work.
My school had arranged a taxi to pick me from the airport, so we went straight to the school hostel outside campus.
The next day, my neighbour, who is also Nigerian, made food for me because she knew I’d just arrived and needed to settle down. It was so touching, and we became really good friends. We cook for each other, stock each other’s houses with food and look out for each other. I’m glad she made that first move. She’s pretty amazing.
I also made a couple of really good friends in school. The friends I’ve made in the UK are the first friends I’ve made since childhood. We do all sorts of amazing and fun stuff together; throw parties, take long walks by 2 a.m. It’s really refreshing. I also like that I can live on my own terms. No one complains that I’m not at home at a specific time. I can even leave my house and not come back, and nobody will say anything.
Have you ever done that?
Yes, but I regretted it.
I travelled hours to visit a friend and had to leave the next day because he wanted sex.
When he invited me, he said he didn’t want anything intimate — he wanted us to chill for a few days and go to the spa. — just two friends chilling. He even offered to reimburse my train ticket money.
My trip was going well until he woke up in the middle of night and started touching me. I told him I wasn’t interested and he backed off, but things became awkward the next morning. I couldn’t stay there anymore, but I didn’t know how to break it to him. He noticed my discomfort and eventually made up a lie that one of his friends was coming to visit him and I had to leave. I happily left.
What do you do for a living?
Here, I work in healthcare. Student visa holders are allowed to work in the UK. I studied microbiology, so it’s a good fit for me.
Do you think you’ll come back to Nigeria?
Only to visit. I’ve seen a better life here, and I owe it to my children to give them a better life and not go back to Nigeria.
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.