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<strong>“The Easy Money Part Is Very Far From The Truth!” – Japa Chronicles</strong>
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“The Easy Money Part Is Very Far From The Truth!” – Japa Chronicles 

The life of a typical Nigerian is never drama-free, no matter where they find themselves. As much as the harsh realities of living in Nigeria are painting the “Japa Dream” as the only “glorified” and most effective form of escape, the stories never stop. Because, even abroad, there will always be a “Nigerian experience”.  The chronicles that shape the journey of becoming an “Abroadian”.

In our first issue of Japa Chronicles, our subject is Onyinye Egemonye. A Student Recruitment Coordinator in her mid-20s, who lives in London and works at a renowned college in the same city. Before she moved abroad, she graduated from the University of Nigeria and was a scriptwriter for “The Johnsons” sitcom series. In this chronicle, she speaks to us about why it was easy for her to settle into life in the UK, the most outstanding reality shocks she experienced, and the things about Nigeria that she still longs for.

What inspired you to japa to the UK?

Marriage! I got married and had to move to the UK because my husband lives there.

What was your experience with processing your Visa?

My husband is a British citizen, so the process was without hassle. I am not saying spouse visas are not complex, but I guess the citizenship thing made it less tricky.

Was it hard or easy for you to settle into the “abroad” life?

It was easy for me to settle into the abroad life because I already had a family there that understands the system and how to navigate it. All I had to do was request, and then they would become tour guides or geography tutors.

Awesome! So can you narrate the first reality shock you experienced on arriving in the UK?

Reality shock plenty o! From people not greeting their elders, to calling people (no matter how old) by their first names; to people actually minding their businesses; to people genuinely respecting the “do not litter” policy. E plenty! However, I believe the one that stood out the most for me was not recognising hierarchy in the workplace. You know how in Nigeria, we have bosses that are highly feared and respected… These bosses will have their personal air-conditioned offices, come get assistants wey go still get their own office and exercise some level of power, even one wey dem no send them. In the abroad, there’s nothing like that. Manager o, assistant o, clerk o, junior staff o… Everybody respects one another equally and speaks to one another casually. In fact, where I work currently, the offices are like large rooms with desk set-ups. When you come work, you go find a spot siddon do your work. And this is the same office managers and executives work as well. The only difference be say una no dey earn the same amount. Asides that, na as the organisation employ the manager dem take employ the junior staff. So, all workers, irrespective of their positions, have rights which are very much respected.

What’s one fact that you’ve been hearing about the UK that turned out to be false?

It’s no new thing that people at home believe that things are easy abroad. “You just go there, make money, enjoy life, and send some things home while at it.” While things are relatively easy here, like having access to working social amenities (which you either still pay for or get taxed for), the easy money part is very far from the truth! If you’re abroad and want to make an honest living, you still have to work as much as you would work anywhere else. You still have to go through the process of job search, hopping from one interview to the next, dealing with rejection after rejection, and eventually working your way up. Even when the money sef enter hand, dem go still deduct money commot from the salary wey you dey receive, ontop the high cost of living.

If you could transfer one thing from Nigeria to the UK, which would it be, and why?

Hmmm… If I could transfer one thing from Nigeria to the UK, it would be the weather. Before my Naija people come for me about their harsh weather, even the cold sef harsh o. Personally, I’d take the Naija heat over the extremely cold and very unpredictable UK weather any day. You should see how excited people here get during summer; me included. Now imagine having that all year round. At least, with the heat, that can be managed. You can dress down, carry umbrellas, apply sunscreen, open windows, switch on the fan, and all that. I also believe it is cheaper to manage the hot weather than the extreme cold weather, where you’d have to pay for gas to heat up your house, which is expensive. And for the outside, no matter how many layers you wear, cold go still catch you, and there isn’t much you can do outside during winter.

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