America is NOT Heaven

10:31 AM

Like many I fantasized about 'God's own country'. I imagined the road will be smooth, I would ride my bicycle on smooth roads in quiet neighborhoods. I would also lick ice-cream endlessly. I was a child and that was all it was - a fantasy.

I grew up and the thought barely crossed my mind - leaving Nigeria. I hated foreign movies because they were so hard to relate to. I wasn't a fan of foreign novels; there was nothing giving me ideas about how foreign countries looked. Not like I didn't know there were many countries far better than my Nigeria, it just didn't sink deep into my thoughts.

I finished secondary school with plans of going to University of Illorin. I and a few of my friends had planned how we would live, what we will do, how we will stay together. I had ideas of how I'll carry myself on campus; mostly from numerous Nigerian movies. I will be tiny like Genevieve Nnaji, walk proudly like Stephanie Okereke, and make intelligent conversations like Rita Dominic when she acts as a boss. That was until I fell below my cutoff for JAMB. I cried like tomorrow will not come.

My parents lovingly encouraged me to enroll for A-levels. It was during this time my father dropped the idea 'you could study in the United States of America'.  It had never even crossed my mind until that time. How do people even get there? How will my parents pay for it? What will happen to all the friends I have made and the life I had imagined to have in Nigeria? 

As the questions flooded my mind, I couldn't help but notice excitement creep up inside me. Maybe it was possible to have an American degree; maybe I could see this country everyone always talks about directly or indirectly.Clothes and shoes cost more as long as the seller said they were from 'America', even though they looked the same as the okrika clothes on the other side of the shop. People that traveled to America commanded a level of respect that was weird to me. But the idea alone, allowed me to dream.

The series of exams, three visa interviews, and my trip to the U.S turns into a blur as the years go by. I landed in Columbia airport, South Carolina, hungry and exhausted. I remember it being so quiet and beautiful. I came to find out it was that way because it was considered a 'small airport'. 

Days became weeks, weeks became months, and I saw that life was the same. In America, there is sickness, poverty and death. Life is not perfect. I also realized I had new names: 'African girl', 'international student', and 'Black'. All those names came with nuances and attributes that were not always palatable. 

What is more significant is the 'hard work'. Nobody gives you a bag of dollars as you arrive. You work hard, very hard. The right things are the hardest to do. There are so many shortcuts patronized by many that has and will continue to claim lives and independence.

Don't think people in other countries are better than you. They have to struggle like you do. If you dream big, work hard, and trust God, your location will just be a 'location'. You will achieve success.

By all  means, do everything right to have a better life. Just don't forget, there's no heaven on earth. We are all sojourners, striving for the best. 

God bless you

Have a Winning-Day


FYI: New post on Bella Naija 'All the HUSH about Sex'

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