No one tells you what awaits you when you start your immigrant journey. Today marks 5-years since I made the decision to move to the United States for grad school at Georgetown University- with so much trepidation and uncertainty. My fears were not unfounded, because I had only $100 cash at hand and a $1,500 gofundme money raised through a few people from my wonderful community, which I hope to someday thank individually. Thinking back to my decision, I had a strong faith, and one would think I was drunk. Maybe I was, because there is a dizzying effect when one has an unwavering faith and belief in a goal that they have only imagined.
At some point I wanted to con myself out of the decision to leave Nigeria, which remains one of the hardest decisions I have made in recent times. I was reluctant to take this journey because my life was well off. I mean by 21, I was making good money and living a comfortable life, but after Buhari won the 2015 elections, I was convinced it was time to leave, and I am glad I did.
REMEMBERING THE COMMUNITY THAT HAS HELPED ME GET HERE
I remember the little things, and today I am thankful for my community that continues to uplift me, in times of distress and solitude. One important and already known lesson is that we all need a community of genuine people who root for us to succeed. And I did! My parents supported my crazy dream. My dad sold his car (I am hoping to replace this soon) to fund my tuition, and my IG community rallied to help me pay my rent at some point. A family which my parents have known for decades took me in, and have been wonderful to me ever since I got to the US. My mentor made sure I was sorted for years, and there is Kwabena, who I met on twitter who guided me through my graduate school learning, and navigating America’s corporate life.
I won’t forget Asiyami Gold, a lot of my readers may be familiar with that name. She opened up her home, took me on my first vacation, and made sure I was able to spend Christmas with her so I didn’t miss home. There is my cousin’s Onyemeri and Chimmy, they are my fondest memories of America, and they gave me my first community of friends and experiences.
There are more people to thank, and I will as time goes on…
A SUMMARY OF THE JOURNEY
The past few years have been fraught with challenges but also victories. However, this would not be the post to speak about all I have been through in my immigrant journey, I am hoping to write a detailed post about my journey by the end of this year. Also, regardless of the taints in my journey, it is one I would take again.
As an immigrant living in the United States, I have gotten opportunities that did not exist for me back home, learned complex skills, taken up and addressed challenges that impact the United States and other countries.
I work at a job that I love with smart and empathetic people. I have a small community from church and work that have offered me moments of reprieve. Though I would admit at this point that cultivating new friendships has been a challenge, the acquaintances I have bonded with in the last 5 years have been sincere and thoughtful.
RESOURCES FOR NAVIGATING LIFE AS AN IMMIGRANT IN THE US
My journey, I realized, wasn’t just for me. As someone who had/has a large following, my decision to leave Nigeria and pursue a Masters degree inspired a lot of people to follow a similar path. I have received countless emails asking how I was able to fund my degree. I was able to secure a loan from Mpower Financing, and you can read about it here. My dad also sacrificed a lot of funds for me to graduate. So, although I set up a GoFund the amount raised could not have sorted out over $120,000 in tuition fee required.
Would I have done things differently, yes. As I wasn’t smart enough to get a scholarship or knew how to. But I don’t regret my decision. That said, I have shared resources through YouTube and writings about my immigrant journey and they are listed below.
- How to Grocery Shop as an International Student
- Renting a space as an International Student
- Living in DC as an International Student
- Top tips I Wish I knew before Graduate School
- My exciting Basement to Apartment Story
- Celebrating 4-years of my US Journey
- Moving for Grad School
- The end of the Beginning: Do not Box God
Overall, I am thankful and there is still more reason to celebrate in the future.