For the longest time, I was pretty much one of those people that often said ‘I couldn’t live outside Nigeria’. I couldn’t imagine being away from the place we called home – the understandable banter and familiarity. I mean it was probably also because I’d never been away. Few days ago, I got really nostalgic looking at old photos of when I just arrived in the UK. To think it was exactly four years a few days ago. (I went back to Nigeria for about 8 months after my LL.M though).
In this time, I’ve definitely noticed that my perceptions have changed a bit. Thought I’ll share the ones that popped in my mind immediately.
I remember my mum insisting I wear a pair of sneakers just before I left, because it was Autumn and it’ll be cold. I took it off on the plane, determined to wear my flat open toe sandals, which in my mind was more stylish. (Actually it wasn’t just in my mind. Mum, we both know those sneakers were a No No).
Dressing has generally got to be one of the biggest change. I remember telling Tee at that time that I was going to shop till I dropped! In my mind I was picturing outfits that’ll rock when I got back to my job in Nigeria. I got here and realised it was pretty hard to pull off. I wore a 6-inch heel to church the first Sunday, but stopped short of taking it off half way! Everyone else at Mass was there in jeans and jumpers. There’s so much extra to buy: coats, leggings, hats, scarves, jackets, gloves, boots. Layering up becomes a skill. And you’re expected to dress for the weather.
To be honest, I haven’t exactly mastered the art, but I’m getting excited by it all and the change that comes with the seasons. Understanding the need for basics and why everyone wears sneakers (lots of walking – and everywhere is supposedly round the corner!) and why cross body bags are a need, especially in winter – we need our hands free, and possibly in your pockets! I’ve come to appreciate that you can still look really good in jumpers and tights, and that why in this post, I mentioned dressing well as a great habit to adopt!
I left 3/4 of my clothes in Nigeria because I needed my suitcase to bring in loads of Nigerian food! On the first day I arrived Cambridge, I walked into a fish & chips shop. For some reason, I expected grilled peppered fish & chips. The fish-in-batter and a side of chips I received in exchange for my £6.49 was no where near my expectations.
You’re probably wondering if I’ve now fallen in love with this kind of food, after 4 years. No. I’m still a huge lover of Nigerian food, but let’s just say I’m learning that I don’t have to eat rice and stew for lunch anymore and quite happy with a salad. I still may not do it yet, but I no longer wonder how one could eat the same sandwich for lunch everyday.
Plus I’m being open to trying all kinds of food, and not internally frowning when I don’t see anything rice related on the menu. Hey, I even eat runny eggs now. However, despite the huge coffee culture, I’m still not drinking coffee. Maybe in 10 years?
For someone who only started travelling recently, I think I just may have become addicted – constantly looking forward to a holiday in other parts of the world. True, being here makes it relatively do-able (plus maybe we are all trying to escape the infamous British weather).
But the mindset it key as well. We shouldn’t necessarily view holidays/travel as luxuries, and we should be keen to discover much more outside our immediate environment. So whether it’s somewhere far like China or Barbados or closer to home like Cornwall, Ghana or Abeokuta, I’m itching to go! Asides travel, I am so keen now to be involved in other activities. In the letter to my younger self, I realised some of the basic life skills I missed out on and from the comments, a lot of us missed out on those as well.
Ok, this is a bonus one, but look, discovering IKEA is a lifestyle change on its own! I’m amazed at it. I’ve come to appreciate small spaces that are nevertheless maximised, the beauty of storage and having a place for everything; beautiful and clean interiors. If you’re on Pinterest, you should totally check out all the cool IKEA storage idea. It’ll give you good ideas, for maximising space.
I don’t think I had to move abroad for these to happen though. But I guess in general, I want to enjoy the ‘little’ things, expand my knowledge of people and cultures and live a rounded life. Again, maybe because I’m somewhat done settled with some aspects of life – like school, career & marriage.
Can you relate to any of these? What lifestyle changes have occurred with you recently (whether as a result of a change of environment or not)? Experiences on being abroad the first time? Share with us!
pS: I like to arrive at new destinations, but I still don’t really like the travel process. Wish I could pinch my nose and disappear like peeps in Rent-a-Ghost. Anyone remember this show?
ppS: If you need a good laugh you should totally read this post on some really bad first dates. I culled out the entries from a London newspaper, the Metro. I still have a laugh anytime I read it.