“Sometimes, I Feel More American Than Nigerian”- Abroad Life

March 5, 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.

The subject of this week’s Abroad Life moved between Nigeria and the US three times between 2008 and 2015. He talks about leaving his friends behind, being black in the US, and the reason he doesn’t feel very Nigerian.

When did you move to the US?

I moved here twice. First in 2008, when I was 10, and in 2015 after secondary school. 

Why did you move the first time?

My dad had some projects here that were going to keep him for some time, so the entire family moved. Even as young as I was, I remember the visa process being extremely difficult. We prayed a lot; we were so tense. We were successful in one try, and everyone packed their stuff, said goodbye and left. 

What was that like for you?

It was difficult. I was 10. I already had long-term childhood friends in Nigeria. I was used to the weather, the food, the way of living, everything, and I liked it. When we moved, I only had my older sisters and my younger brother.

Thankfully, we’re a close-knit family, so I didn’t feel too disconnected.

What was integrating into society like?

In the four years that I stayed in the US, I went to three different schools because we moved around a lot. It didn’t help that they were very white schools. So, apart from being the new kid, I was also the black kid from Africa who spoke weird and wasn’t as rich as my classmates. I found it hard to make friends. At such a young age, being black already meant something for me. 

How did that eventually play out?

My dad was my rock. I looked up to as an example of what a black man should be. He was busy, but he wasn’t too busy to make time for us. I come from a Christian background, so my parents also instilled a lot of values in me. Many of them, I still follow until now. 

That’s awesome. Did you eventually make friends?

I made a few friends. It was when I began to settle in that we had to go back to Nigeria. Once again, it was difficult. I was reluctant to leave because I was enjoying life here. I’d also heard a lot about Nigeria that I wasn’t looking forward to. 

What did you hear?

Just the regular corruption, insecurity, poverty, terrorism and all that. I wasn’t looking forward to all of that. I think I was scared. 

How did it turn out?

The three years I spent in Nigeria were some of the best of my life. At first, it was weird. During my time in the US, I’d formed an American accent. That was suddenly the only way I knew how to speak. So again, I was the new kid in class who spoke differently. I was in SS1 at this point, so it wasn’t as if I got bullied. I was just the different one. Teachers even gave me special treatment. 

But as I made friends and settled in, I started enjoying the Nigerian boarding school experience. I was the kid who sat in the back of the class and made jokes so that everyone would laugh, but I wouldn’t get punished because I put on a poker face and acted like I didn’t know what was going on. I made friends I know I’ll have for life, and we did all the crazy stuff young people did to make the principal say, “This SS3 set is the worst that has ever come to this school!” 

Good times. 

Ah, the memories. What happened after you left secondary school?

I left Nigeria a few months after I finished secondary school. By the time we were taking our WAEC and JAMB exams, I’d written SATs and gotten admission to a school in the US. My older sisters were in university in the US too. There wasn’t any time to actually be a Nigerian in Nigeria. It was straight from the US to a Nigerian boarding school and back to the US almost immediately. I haven’t gone back ever since. 

Was that hard for you?

In some ways, it was. I had made friends and wanted to enjoy some time with them. There were also a lot of questions in my mind about Nigeria and what it meant to stay here. I wanted to see the streets and the people, I wanted to interact. But I understand the decision for my parents to move my life forward. Some people I finished secondary school with in 2015 aren’t done with university now because of things like strikes and all that. I can’t even imagine that for myself. 

What was university like?

It was pretty nice. I went to a nice school, met some good people, I had a job in school, so I wasn’t always broke, I had a nice apartment and was very involved with politics and humanitarian activities in school. I got my bachelor’s about two years ago and now I’m doing my masters. I also have a really good job. I’m doing all of this while trying to maintain my visa status, so I can stay in the US and get a green card.

Do you ever want to come back to Nigeria?

Not until I get my permanent residency here sorted. After that, I can visit and stay awhile. Because of the way my life has played out, I’m more comfortable being in the US than being in Nigeria. Many times, I joke and say that I’m more American than I’m Nigerian. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel like a joke. I just haven’t experienced Nigeria enough.

Want more Abroad Life? Check in every Friday at 12 PM (WAT) for a new episode. Until then, read every story of the series here.

David Odunlami

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

free speech
June 5, 2021

by Timinepre Cole On Friday, June 4 2021, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture announced the suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria indefinitely. There are concerns that the ban is an attempt to restrict freedom of speech and expression because this is not the first time the government has done this. Here are seven […]

August 19, 2019

If you had even the faintest glimmer of a 2G connection this weekend, then chances are, you caught wind of the attack on former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu by purported members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in Nuremberg, Germany. In videos replicated on social media, one of which had 31.7k views at last […]


Now on Zikoko

June 16, 2021

Dealing with acne is never easy. From random people recommending products to you to the self-esteem dip, everyone has their story. In this article, seven Nigerian women talk about living with acne.  Khloe, 22  I was 14 the first time I noticed acne on my face. It was my first year in university. I didn’t […]

June 16, 2021

The subject of this week’s What She Said is a 25-year-old Nigerian woman who has travelled to over fifteen countries alone. She talks about how this love for travelling started, the way she’s stigmatised at airports and in hotels, and her dream to attend aviation school. What was growing up like? Life was good until […]

June 15, 2021

As a Nigerian, sometimes you need to remind yourself that you are in the best country in the world. 1) We have delicious suya and kilishi Regulate open grazing? No. Ban Twitter? Yes. Ban Cryptocurrency? Yes. Why? Because Suya and Kilishi >>>>> Technological advancement. It’s quite simple really. 2) “Over raw” best in world rankings […]

Recommended Quizzes

November 7, 2019

These days, everyone is always talking about how much sex they’re getting, or how little sex they’re getting, or how disgusting sex is etc. There’s just so much talk about sex, it’s almost impossible to know who’s lying and who’s telling the truth. In anticipation of our new series about the sex lives of young […]

October 10, 2019

2019 is certainly Burna Boy’s year, but, if we are being honest, so was 2018. Since his transcendent mixtape, Outside, the afro-fusion star has refused to get his foot of our necks — dropping a string of fantastic singles and then capping it all off with his career-best album, African Giant.  So, in a bid […]

November 1, 2019

Twitter is buzzing right now, bringing a new conversation to the concept of cool vs not-so-cool, especially in relationships. If you’ve been thinking about how much of a red flag you are, why don’t you let this quiz help you decide once and for all?

October 29, 2019

We are going to be attempting to guess when you’ll marry based on your favourite Nigerian foods. What does your fave swallow have to do with when you’ll tie the knot? Please, don’t ask complicated questions. This quiz is rigorous and accurate (don’t quote us), so just take it already. QUIZ: Why Do You Have […]

November 20, 2019

Last month, we thoughtfully made a quiz telling you guys exactly when you’ll marry, but some of you claimed that your spouse was nowhere to be found. Well, now we’ve created one that’ll tell you exactly who you’ll be dragging down that aisle. Take and start planning that wedding: 11 Quizzes For Nigerians Who Are […]

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:

More from Citizen

June 15, 2021

The Future of Hiring Lawyers During COVID-19 and Beyond for 200 Million Nigerians With the spread of COVID-19, most industries have adjusted their standard practices of conducting business. The legal profession is no exception, with TalkCounsel at the helm redefining the legal experience for countless Nigerians. TalkCounsel’s digital workspace hosts vetted lawyers that offer a […]

June 13, 2021

June 12 Protest: Yesterday, after months of planning, Nigerians took to the streets to protest against bad governance, abuse of human rights, worsening insecurity, and other forms of maladministration and mishandling of democracy in the country. Coincidentally, this protest happened one week after the Nigerian government’s sudden and unconstitutional Twitter ban. Yesterday was also Nigeria’s […]

June 12, 2021

By Doyin Olagunju If you were on social media on 27th May 2021, you must have seen a viral video involving Remi Tinubu, a former first lady of Lagos State and a current senator representing Lagos Central senatorial district, in a heated argument with another woman over the fact that Ms Tinubu called the woman […]

June 8, 2021

It’s been more than 72 hours since the federal government ordered the Twitter Ban, a decision that has denied millions of Nigerians without “You-Know-What” access to the social media platform. The question on everyone’s mind is “how much longer will this ill-thought-out and  extralegal decision hold?” The answer remains to be seen.  However, the Nigerian […]

June 7, 2021

Twitter Ban: The Nigerian Broadcasting Commission, in a statement issued today has ordered all Nigerian broadcasting stations to delete their Twitter accounts. The letter to the broadcasting organisations terms it as “unpatriotic” for any broadcaster in Nigeria to continue to use Twitter as a source of information gathering and dissemination in Nigeria. Different variations of […]

June 5, 2021

The Nigerian government’s decision to suspend popular social media platform ban will hit Nigeria’s teeming youth population, for whom Twitter has become a source of escape from the hard-hitting Nigerian situation. Many use the platform to find job opportunities, companionship and networking. It will also prove to be disastrous for small and medium scale businesses […]

June 5, 2021

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami has directed that people violating the Twitter ban should immediately be prosecuted. Yesterday, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture announced through a Twitter thread that it had indefinitely suspended Twitter operations in Nigeria. The suspension came after Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, […]


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.