Osariemen is a chemical engineering student at the University of Mississippi. In this post, she narrates her experience thus far as a foreign student in the U.S. and takes us through her journey to appreciating her African roots while in another land along with other lessons. We hope you enjoy the blog post as much as we did!
After close to about 50 hours of flying, layovers, bad weather, and whatever else you can think of, I finally landed in the United States of America.
It was my first time flying alone and also as a minor, so, that trip was sort of traumatic for me because it had a lot of roadblocks (literally lol) that I don’t typically experience while traveling.
I’d not envisioned myself coming to another man’s land for school. It was everyone else’s dream but mine.
I thank God my family members did not listen to me when I said I didn’t want to go. I say this not because I think I have “escaped” because Nigeria is not hell I have to run from, but I see it as a great opportunity to develop and help steer the rudder of the ship Nigeria sails on.
So, back to my lamentations and lessons. Since I always traveled for visits or vacation and was young, I never had to interact much with strangers and in turn, could not comprehend “Osariemen” or at the very least “Osas”, would be such a tongue twister for many. I was amazed!
Another thing I realized was how dialect (what most incorrectly refer to as accent) can be such a great barrier in communication! I was so confused when people could not hear me. That was how my “amrika” tongue came about.
As a Benin girl, I can throw down that pidgin any day anytime, even Yoruba. I can honestly say culture shock got me at the beginning.
Another thing I learned about was color. Coming from a country where we are either light skinned, dark skinned, ‘yellow pawpaw’ and all that, I did not see myself as “black”. I am very sure I have filled out somewhere on a document on the race/ethnicity section as “Nigerian”, because I was not White, black/African American, Hispanic or what not, knowing that it is clearly not a race but a country. Well, I learned and accepted my race that I did not know I belonged to.
On a more serious note, I learned a lot. I learned how to learn (academics, socially, generally really), I learned the importance of home training, learned to appreciate what I have and don’t have. I also learned what it meant to be independent and work hard. Contrary to popular opinion of “everyone abroad is living the life”, I personally don’t think so. If so, why do we have the IJGB’s (I just Got Backs) storming the country to “live life” every December?
Actually, I learned I was spoiled in Nigeria. Literally everything I want or need or must do, I do myself, even to braiding my hair (well maybe that aided to my switching to short hair).
The food, people, parties, language, and culturally similar people are all things I have come to appreciate so much since I traveled. I took them for granted while at home and I wish more people would realize how important they are. I mean, people want to affiliate themselves in some way to our culture in terms of dressing, food and the likes. If I could turn the hands of clock, I would have been willing to wear more traditional wears, learn the languages my parents speak and learn very local dishes. See me bragging on Nigerian Jollof to my American friends when there is gbegiri and owo soup I should be flaunting in their faces.
There’s a lot I can wish for now but time is no respecter of person so all I can do is influence my future. I have learned Yoruba language now (at least to the level where I can communicate lol). My mom unfailingly has to sew me traditional clothes and pack food stuff and snacks for me whenever I am around, or someone is coming over.
Although I’ve been here for a while, I am still proud any day of where I am from. It is so ingrained in me, I never cease to talk about home.
All my classmates, coworkers and residents have learned how to say “Osariemen”, they know Nigeria is home to very smart, educated, friendly, and to be honest, eccentric people they could ever meet.
Home is where the heart belongs. I’m a product of all the whooping, education, people and environment I grew up in so why not give credit where it belongs? I am that foreign girl from Nigeria.
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