So after a year and 4 months in Nigeria, I jumped on a plane a total of two weeks ago and returned to the US. It’s been so amazing being back with my family in the town I grew up in – that sense of familiarity has been nice to clear my head, refocus and get to work.
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I dropped into Maryland on a cold day that’s been quit the adjustment! As I sit huddled under a blanket with tea close in hand, I’m reflecting on all the things that I’ll miss/am already missing in Nigeria.
As much as so many things frustrated me about my time there, there is no denying that it was a year of growth, learning and some fun thrown in.
There is a unique hustle and bustle here and also a very unique creative scene that I got a chance to experience but wasn’t able to dive into. But I think that’s something that can be said for every major hub – just each scene would be a bit different. So I wanted to focus on things that I would specifically miss from right here in Nigeria that I won’t get a taste – at least not to the same extent, of when I’m back in the U.S.
1. My aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. of course.
Family is everything. There’s no denying that family is number one and getting to see and connect with my extended family on a regular basis was definitely one of the highlights of living in Nigeria.
2. The amazing friends I have made
Thank goodness for WhatsApp, Facebook and all the other contacting people apps. Through NYSC, and just awkwardly putting myself out there a few time, I actually managed to make a few friends while I was in Abuja and Lagos. Having trouble making friends where you are? Check out this awesome post by The Traveling Fro.
3. The evening breeze.
Nothing can beat that tropical breeze. Also because I’m freezing, I miss the heat. But I don’t want to say it too loud because I don’t miss the sweltering dry season heat.
4. Street food and being able to buy snacks at any corner. Some of my faves are:
- Grilled corn or plantains – depending on the season
- Egg rolls – no, not the Asian kind. It’s a hard boiled egg wrapped in fried dough….drooling emoji.
- Plantain chips – the dark ones (ripe) and light ones (unripe). I don’t discriminate.
- Suya – duh! Grilled meat covered in the tastiest mix of pepper and spices imaginable.
5. Exciting conversations about how we move Nigeria forward
I was super fortunate to be part of an amazing CDS group with really smart people and opportunities that introduced me to other really smart and passionate people. While I think I definitely can stay part of these conversations, getting a chance to be hands on with their programs and initiatives is something I will surely miss. I might just have to do a post on just how amazing my CDS group was and all the awesome things we got up to.
Another great example of these kind of “move Nigeria forward” conversation, was on a bus back from Lagos to Abuja. Some people on the bus were headed to Jos while most of us were headed to Abuja. They had bought a ticket for Jos, but the company was taking everyone to Abuja and hadn’t been entirely upfront or polite with the passengers about this change.
This sparked a discussion about corruption, complacency and the importance of voting. The entire bus was engaged in this conversation and it splintered off into several conversations. I watched the whole thing from the back seat and chimed in a bit, but mostly just marveled at the whole thing.
This wasn’t the first time something like this happened around me on a bus in Nigeria, but it’s something that would NEVER – okay, never say never, but hardly happen in the U.S. That sense of letting anyone know your opinion but also fighting a semi-common cause, is very Nigerian. And I love (not the always feeling people are entitled to your opinion part, but that’s a different post). I’m just saying that I love the ability to get into those kind of conversations on the fly.
6. Relatively cheap transportation
Now I’m just saying this because I grew up in a small town with hardly any public transportation (does the pic above look like it’s in a town with public transportation?). Both Abuja and Lagos, and even Ilorin, Ondo Town and Awka when I stay there, it’s easy to just get up from your house and go across town at reasonable rates – safety not guaranteed, lol…. Not in a security kind of way…in a crazy keke and motorcycle drivers kind of way.
7. Default movie popcorn
It’s kettle corn! I far prefer it to the butter popcorn served in the U.S. Also one time I had this AMAZING popcorn at a church program where the lady added butter, powdered milk AND sugar…it was creamy and delicious!
8. Relatively cheap and GORGEOUS hair styles
Staying in Nigeria this long has allowed me to experiment with different hairstyles I might otherwise not have tried. When I would just go to Nigeria for a short visit, I would get marley braids or Senegalese twists and call it a day.
Since getting braids in the US is about $80 or more, and for other reasons, I’ll not be getting my hair done this year.
9. The Diversity of Nigeria
One thing I really enjoyed over my time there was getting to see different parts of Nigeria. The variety in clothing, languages, music, dances, cultures and topography of our beautiful country became much more evident to me first hand when I got to visit/stay in: Lagos, Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, Jigawa, Kwara, Anambra, Ondo, Osun, Imo and Delta. I think I would actually really like to visit every state in Nigeria one day! Seeing our differences just makes me appreciate our similarities even more and we should always strive to celebrate the two.
Nigeria’s vegetation is top notch! While in the previous one, I mentioned the variety in topography – I more so meant, the beaches, mountains, hills, jungles, forests, rivers, etc. But the FRUITS we grow!! So good. I especially love obe (a “pear” you can grill or boil), pineapples, and MANGOS!! I’m so bummed because I left JUST at the beginning of mango season. Mangos in the U.S. just aren’t quite as juicy and sweet. And at the height of mango season, they are relatively cheap.
So just noticed that 3 of the things I listed are about food. Clearly, I love to eat! Will definitely miss all the food…but not daily swallow and rice…I’ll save that for next week’s post so stay tuned!
Getting to live in Nigeria the past year has been an amazing experience and I’m happy that I was able to experience my country as an adult. I accomplished some of my goals in heading out to Nigeria and I still have a lot to reflect on and incorporate about my time in Nigeria so stay tuned. You can do so by subscribing here. I send an update email a month so my subscribers get extra content and are first to know my next steps:
Have you been to Nigeria and those that currently live there. What’s your favorite thing about our amazing country?