15 CULTURAL SHOCKS FOR NIGERIANS LIVING ABROAD
Many Nigerians want to travel abroad for one reason or the other. The past few years have particularly witnessed the relocations of many Africans to countries outside Africa for schooling, work and so on.
Many people however get abroad to be shocked by the wide cultural differences they were never prepared for. Many get depressed abroad; many would never really open up to their new cultures abroad; many would still be fully attached to 'home', staying on long calls with family and friends for survival.
I believe that what you were not prepared for or expecting are the things that can shock you hugely. Immediately you are armed with information about a new world before getting into it, the shock becomes a little bit less 'shocking'.
And this is why I am here today. I want to expose some of the cultural shocks you might have to deal with when you travel to a new country.
WHAT IS A CULTURAL SHOCK?
Cultural Shock is a feeling of confusion, doubt, or nervousness caused by being in a place that is very different from what you are used to.
It also describes the impact of moving from a familiar culture to one that is unfamiliar; the shock of a new environment, meeting lots of new people and learning the ways of a new country.
Do you feel suddenly down, lost or without interest in your new 'dream' country? This is your exact diagnosis: CULTURAL SHOCK! You might be battling cultural shock! And I'm here to inform you about them and share with you tips on how to overcome them.
Nigerians who are living in or have once lived abroad have expressed some common cultural shock experiences they encountered in different countries of the world which counter the usual ways of doing things that they are accustomed to in Nigeria. Here are a few of them:
COMMON CULTURAL SHOCKS FOR NIGERIANS LIVING ABROAD.
1. SPICELESS FOODS
This is one of the biggest cultural shocks you will encounter when you leave the borders of Nigeria. Forget it, your feeding is forever changed! If you try to eat the seemingly delicious-looking foods of your host country, you would be shocked. The tastes are generally different from the spicy, well-salted, delicacies from home. Soon, you might have to start going around with your own salt and pepper. You will also start to miss 'Maggi' and 'Knorr'.
2. EVERY MAN TO HIS OWN
Abroad, everyone keeps to themselves. You expect that as you move to a new apartment, your neighbors should probably come knock you door as they would in Nigeria to welcome you to the vicinity and probably bring you your first dinner to cool off. You will wait till infinity! It will not happen. They see it as a way of keeping off your track and minding their own businesses. If you don't invite them, they won't come.
3. NO AFRICAN STORE EVERYWHERE
It is a popular notion that any country of the world you visit has an African store. This is not true. There are some countries you will visit that you won't even see many Africans, so, why should they have the African stores there? Thank God for the United States and Canada that has the My Sasun African Store vgn where you can buy all African foods at affordable prices. But be prepared that not all countries have these stores.
4. LEARNING TO SUBSTITUTE INGREDIENTS
Since there are no African stores everywhere, you might have to start learning what you can use instead of what you would have normally used. Instead of Ugwu vegetables, you'd have to start looking for Spinach or Kales. Instead of Egusi, you might opt for groundnut. Instead of Palm oil, you might have to start frying your tomatos in vegetable oils to get the 'redness' of Palm oil. Instead of roasted cat fish, you might have to start learning to grill your fish in your oven until very dry. The taste won't be up to par but at least, it would be manageable.
5. VISITATION BY INVITATION
In Nigeria, if someone has just given birth to a baby for instance, you are expected to visit them and rejoice with them. Unfortunately, you don't just visit people 'by surprise' abroad. No matter what you have to offer the new mother and child, you need to call first to know if they'd love you to visit. Same applies to you visiting a sick person. Thanks for your concern but could you just not visit without ensuring you are wanted. And yeah, since that is their culture, you will feel it when it is your turn. You've just gotten married, just had a baby, just bought a car, feel ill etc. If you don't invite them, they won't bother coming. Many wouldn't even think it necessary to call you to know if they could visit. Ugh, lonely, right? Well, it is what it is.
6. FOODLESS PARTIES/ SELF SPONSORED DATES
For Nigerians, it is very common to go to parties and eat to stupor. That's not the case abroad though. In many western countries, each guest is sometimes expected to go to a party with their own wines or snacks. When you get there, you would see different snacks and drinks that others have also brought. So, you can all eat from one another to celebrate the celebrant.
Also, if someone invites you on a date, please go with some extra money. You might be shocked to see the 'invitee' only settling himself or herself at the restaurant. If that's the case, just bring out your own purse also and pay for something.
7. EXPENSIVE HAIRSTYLES
Oh, it could be so shocking for Nigerians abroad who would always plait new hairstyle every week to realize that doing that abroad might be a little bit risky. Not only would the styles not always be as neat and firm as would be obtainable in Nigeria, they would also be very expensive. You might even have to pay for home service if they had to travel down to your house. To still look beautifully African abroad is expensive. That's why many wouldn't change their hairstyles for a long time because they must spend their money well.
8. PER HOUR PAYMENT.
This could be so shocking also. Don't be too relaxed when you have employed someone to come around to fix someone in your home. Because you know it, one hour is gone and you were probably even still gisting with the person. At the end of everything, your bill would be calculated by how many hours the person spent with you. And to go to the photo studio for instance, you pay per hour, strictly.
9. INSUFFICIENT APPRECIATION
In Nigeria, when someone helps you with something, the next day when you see the person, you are expected to say 'Thanks for yesterday' with gratitude. Even in a week's time, you are still expected to do that. But abroad, when someone helps you and you apply this technique, it is usually weird. They keep wondering why you are so 'grateful' that much. So, when the table turns and you were the one who have been so good to them, they'd appreciate you at the spot and that all. Don't expect a reference to it tomorrow or next tomorrow.
10. LACK OF RESPECT, THE NIGERIAN WAY
Don't be offended when you get abroad and a twelve year old calls you by your first name even though you are old enough to be his/her mother.
'What's your name?' A little boy can audaciously ask. Which is contrary to what is popularly obtainable in Nigeria
'Lizzy' You might awkwardly respond.
'Hey, Lizzy! My name is Matt. Welcome' The little baby would then respond innocently, not aware that he has just hit you with a heavy shock. Haha
And when you use 'sirs' and 'mas' too much, you make your listener uncomfortable many times.
11. YOUNG PROFESSORS AS COMPARED TO OLD PROFESSORS BACK AT HOME
At home, in Nigeria, Professors are usually old and grey-haired but abroad, someone your age might be your professor. It could be shocking but yes, you've got to deal with it.
12. NO BLARING OF HORNS.
When you visit Lagos for instance, you would almost go deaf from the blarings of the different car horns available but it is not so in many countries of the world. People would only use the horn where necessary.
13. NO SCREAMING
It is when you get abroad you will get to understand that you have a loud voice as a Nigerian. You see something very interesting when on your way out and scream to your friends 'See that. See that, oh my God'. The friends might give you a weird smile while thinking 'What a loud girl!'. Or you are seeing a game and obviously to celebrate your side's win, you scream in joy. You are too noisy! Or you unconsciously let out the 'Up NEPA' when electricity is restored after a short period of power outage. Haha, you might have to deal with the weird looks that'd follow.
14. GIFTLESS VISITORS
Lastly before I go, many times abroad, people visit you emptyhanded without feeling ashamed about it. While in Nigeria, you would want to visit people with a loaf of bread or some fruits, in the least, it's not so in many parts of the world. You probably have just had a baby yet your friend might just come visit for ten minutes, blow the baby a distant kiss and go away. It is indeed a cultural shock.
15. THE RESPONSE TO 'HOW ARE YOU?' IS NOT ALWAYS 'FINE'
In Nigeria, the first answer someone would give you when you ask 'How are you?' is 'Fine' but abroad, they are a little bit more sincere.
'Hey Tessy, how are you?' You could ask. And they might shake their heads kind of sadly and say:
'Hey Lizzy. Well, not so good. I had a rough day today. The weather has been harsh and I have an allergy. My mom also called to say she's having problems with her heart again. She might need surgery and her insurance is not in place. My boyfriend has also not called today and I am so sick worried about him. So, it's been a weird day today. So, tell me, Lizzy, how are you?'
Erm, you only wanted a 'fine' so you could be on your way but now, you would have to deal with the many problems shared and provide empathy where necessary. Be aware that you might have to see a few tears drop from their eyes also as you offer your encouragement.
I could go on and on but I would love to drop my pen here. Which of these 13 cultural shocks would you find the most unpalatable if you are to witness them? Also, have you been faced with any cultural shock since you moved abroad, kindly share your experience in the comments below.