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Read This If You Plan To Move Abroad

Faith landed at Heathrow Airport and let out the longest sigh of relief, “I’m finally out!”.

I know, she’s not alone, this japa wave is real.

We’re not really in support of this “Last to leave Naija is a fool” that you people are doing but if you have or plan to join the japa gang, we have a few tips to make settling in easier for you.

Let’s learn from Faith and Adeola, our latest “Japa alumnae” –

●    MAPS ARE YOUR FRIEND

Yes, this one can seem like nothing but not everyone knows how or cares to use the map. 

“One time, I stood in the middle of the streets with tears in my eyes wishing there was a LASTMA officer somewhere I could ask for directions,” Faith said. My good sis found out the hard way that it’s not always all Uber-and-chill abroad, that’s how her Google Maps love story began.

Adeola on the other hand prefers MOOVIT because according to her, it’s useful for migrants. Like Faith, confusion on the streets of London had Adeola missing bikes in Naija.

Our takeout?

Be it Google Maps, MOOVIT, or whatever you choose, get familiar with maps. You’ll be happy you did.

Save time and avoid wahala, Google Maps is your friend.

●     CASH IS KING, GO PREPARED

We’ve already said it, relocating isn’t always easy. Luckily for Faith, she already had her ALAT Dollar Card with her. “If you don’t, you really can’t go wrong with some cash. Avoid stories and have some cash to fall back on”, Faith advised. If you’re going on a scholarship, it gets even better. You can get a Personal Travel Allowance (remember PTA, we’ll discuss this more soon) of up to $4.000! Yep, so your cash problem is solved, you’re 4k dollars richer and you still have your ALAT dollar card as a backup. WHO can catch you off guard?

In the words of Adeola, “Pack all the money you can pack, even if it’s to borrow. The last thing you want is to get stranded”. Be financially ready.

japa from nigeria

●     UNDERSTAND THE CREDIT SYSTEM, BUILD YOUR CREDIT SCORE

Imagine Faith finding out that she doesn’t have to drop 500k at a go for that iPhone she wants–the joy! That phone you dropped 500k for at a go, Faith has not even finished paying off the one she got months ago, and it’s all because of the credit system and her credit score.

I’ll make it easy, think of credit scores like this. Abroad, they let you get things on credit because they trust you’ll pay back. Why? They’ve looked at your credit history and based on your “good reputation” for paying back your debts in time, they can trust that you’ll pay back. The higher your credit score, the more you can get on credit (credit limit).

Faith’s advice? Start building your credit history as soon as you can, it’ll come in handy. Your rent and utility bills can give you a head start, that’s how she got her phone. If your score is good enough, you can even get a credit card.

Know the credit system and make it work for you.

  • PREPARE FOR CULTURE SHOCK

You know how you’ll be doing something and once your parent gives you bad eye, you’ll comport immediately? Well imagine the shock on Adeola’s face when she watched a child use the F-word on her father on the streets of London. It’s when she heard the dad apologise that her friend even tapped her to close her mouth, that it’s normal.

As you go, know that there are things that will happen that will shock you, likely because they can’t try them in Naija. Brace yourself and when possible or necessary, think before you react. Things can go from 0-100 real quick.

  • PLAN, THERE IS NO NIGERIAN TIME ABROAD.

And no, we’re not saying there’s no lateness abroad. The system is different, so you just may not be able to get away with it. Think of it this way. You can plan to leave your house in Surulere to get a bus to the island at 6:30. If you somehow get there by 7:30/8, you’ll still find a bus.

Abroad, if a bus is set to leave at 5, it leaves at 5 and there’s no telling when the next one arrives. Even hanging out with your friends means planning to ensure your schedules align and shifts don’t clash.

The takeout? Plan and you’ll be fine.

  • FIND A COMMUNITY / NETWORK

Yes, we’re all for independence but with relocation, you need all the help you can get. Where Google can’t answer your question, having someone that’s experienced in the system can be a plus. They can tell you for sure what to do, where to go for what, where not to go, etc. Remember that relocation can be quite lonely. It can’t hurt to have someone trustworthy you can call a friend.

Be careful though, choose your relationships wisely, not everyone is alright.

  • RESIST THE URGE TO PACK EVERY SINGLE THING WHEN GOING

Adeola packed like she was “going to her husband’s house” only to get there and sit daily, wondering why she carried most of those things. If she had to do it again, she would pack light. 

Her advice? Take only the essentials, foodstuff included. In her words, “If you’ll be staying alone and you like Naija food, pack all the foodstuff you can. Preserve right and you can have foodstuff to last you through the year”.

  • RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH

You can never be too prepared, and you can’t know it all. Do your research, especially on the country you’re emigrating to, you’ll be shocked at how much you can learn.

Research can tell you what kind of weather to anticipate, how the country works, even what flight to use, and much more. It doesn’t mean research guarantees everything will be soft, it just helps you be prepared for whatever you meet.

Adeola had researched the weather situation, so she prepared herself.

Did she still almost freeze at the airport and ask her aunt if there were air-conditioners in the atmosphere?  Yes.

Could it have been much worse? YES

Thanks to research, she’d dressed for the weather so even as she shivered, she could still “thank God silently for the wisdom to dress right”.

Our point? Do your research.

One more line of wisdom before you go, live the ALAT Life home & abroad, download ALAT now!

I’ll stop here, a word {or like 2,000 words?} is enough for the wise.