This year some of my family members in Nigeria decided to relocate to the United States. It has been fascinating to watch other people experience the immigration process. There is a push to move back to Nigeria but many people still yearn to move to the U.S. I want to talk about some of the things to keep in mind when moving here to better prepare those ready to make the move. This list may not apply to all and in no way is it comprehensive so please add your own advice.
1. Culture Shock
When you arrive in the U.S. you will most likely experience a culture shock. The food, weather, transportation and many other things here are different from Nigeria. Give yourself time to adjust and do not be too hard on yourself. You may also experience situations that make you more aware of your skin color than you experienced in the past. A note to students, try to find the university’s African Student Association or a local church or mosque to meet Nigerians in your area. Call home when you miss home but also take time to know your new environment. You know what they say, when in Rome…
2. Poverty Exists
The USA may be the land of opportunities but extreme poverty exists in this country. There are a lot of people living on the streets, there are unemployed people, people who live in rough neighborhoods and insecurity exists. Your friends and relatives will start calling you as soon as you get here to send them goods and money; but let them be aware that you are entering the country jobless and money does not grow on trees. Now if you already landed a job before you get here that is really good for you.
3. Healthcare Is Not Free
Please take care of yourself. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of preventive care. Healthcare in the U.S. is very expensive and unless you have amazing health insurance you will have to pay all or a big part of the health cost. Do not start eating hamburgers and all that processed food. Eat healthy and stay active.
4. Have A Plan
You will meet people who have been in the U.S. for 10, 20 or even over 30 years and their lives seem to be stagnant. Have a plan for your life. If you do not have the proper documentation, have a plan to accomplish it as soon as possible. If you play around, you will find it harder to get your papers in the long run. Even if you have legal documents, make sure you have goals whether with school, moving up the corporate ladder or starting a business venture. Nigerians are doing great in this country and breaking all sorts of records so join that positive movement.
5. Obey The Law
When you make your plans please do not break the law. Please do not come here trying to take the shortcut way to success *side eye to the fraudsters*. Most people I know who have tried that has ended up paying for their actions in the long run. Be prepared to work hard. From road safety to work ethics, know the laws and obey them.
6. Do Not Give Up
Lastly, do not give up! Remember the reason you left your home country for a new land. Let your journey not be for waste. Things will be difficult at times but tough times do not last, tough people do.
7. Don’t Rack Up Babies
And one more thing… to my brothers, please do not make babies left and right. Child support is real in these streets.You have been warned.