I was already a grownup and had only entered a plane once (on a trip from Lagos to Abuja) when I got admission to further my education in Jand (The UK). Living over there with those Oyimbo people in their ice cold country for almost 2 years is a book on its own but for the purpose of this series, I am going to capture a few of the differences I noticed between life in Nigeria and in England humorously. All the stories told in these episodes actually happened to me and I am sure by the end, even if you haven’t traveled to the UK before, you might as well famze like you have because you will already know the happenings over there. It’s quite long but I have tried dividing them into 3 very interesting, informative and hilarious series. Enjoy
3rd and Final Series:
31. The Primark Phenomenon: The Lagos Island, the Aswani, the bend-down-select of the UK is a gigantic shop called Primark. In Primark, you can buy anything and everything for cheap and its a major hunting ground for Nigerians looking to buy cheap and good stuff to sell back home.
32. Buy stuff N return to get a refund: People in Jand (sad to say mostly Africans) abuse this privilege. In Jand, most shops offer a return and refund policy. So if you take a dress home and it doesn’t fit, you could return it within a specified time. What many people would do is take the dress, leave the tag, wear it for a show, wrap it back up and claim it doesn’t fit them and they get a refund. In Nigeria, as long as the dress has left the shop, the most you can get is “please choose another dress”, no refunds please.
33. Cheap stuff: Getting to the UK I stumbled upon my favorite spot in the World; Poundland. This is a shop where every single item is sold for £1 (N300). Every single item from soaps, drinks, biscuits, books, perfumes, a few clothes, undies, toiletries, chocolates (if your Uncle traveled to UK and bought a suitcase full of chocolates, this is where he bought them..lol). What a beauty, always my one stop shop. Other places for cheap stuff include 99p stores and my favorite shopping place (Saintsbury’s with their cheap branded items). In Nigeria, the only cheap stuff you see are fairly used items. Taaaaaaah.
34. Bus/Train pass: In Jand, one could pay for day/week/month pass to be used on a bus. So you pay let’s say £100 (N30,000) and you can enter buses for infinity times in that month. As for trains, one can buy a consecutive/flexi rail pass for a duration of time where you can enter train for a million times for that period or a student train pass where for a period of time you get a reduced rate (if the ticket is £5, you pay £2). In Nigeria, the only people that get free pass on buses are military officials (police, army etc).
35. Orderliness: People in the UK hardly go to church but they are law abiding, sweet, nice people. On the other hand, we carry religion on our head in Nigeria and disorderliness is a way of life.
36. Power banks and generators: A Nigeria that doesn’t own a power bank or generator is probably a politician’s child. With our epileptic power supply, its only reasonable to own a power bank/generator set. In Jand, a power bank seller or a generator importer will die broke. With 24 hours light, who would buy?
37.Education: In Nigeria, I was thought how to read, memorize/cram and pour it out verbatim for the lecturer on the exam day. “Do this and you pass my exams”, the lecturers would say. This approach has only led to “brilliant” students and “dull” workers. The UK have taken a different approach entirely, here I was taught how to study on my own, research, learn, complete course works, get involved in teams to build teamwork. No wonder certificates from foreign Universities carry more weight. And for anyone that schooled in the UK, the fear of Turnitin is the beginning of wisdom.
38. Baby slings: In Africa, babies are mostly carried on the back by their mother’s with the help of wrappers but in Jand, babies are carried in front with the aid of a baby sling/carrier and any gender can carry the baby not just the woman as in Africa.
39. Pay and get delivery: In Nigeria, nobody trusts anybody and its very rare to see people paying for products before delivery. Take for example, online shopping malls like Konga and Jumia offer “pay upon delivery” services because Nigerians don’t trust no one. In Jand, nothing like “pay upon delivery” its strictly “pay and get delivery”. Honest people.
40. Letters: In Jand, everything is done via letters. Your gas and power bills, internet bills, exam results (some external exams), bank account information are sent via letters. These are delivered through mails via the “letter box” which is an opening on the front door of houses for mail delivery.
41. Everyone pays: I remember the day two friends (a Polish girl and a Russian girl) invited me out for drinks and some dancing. I had already made up my mind that I was gonna spend so took enough money. We got there, they ordered for their drinks and payed. I was like “OMG, is this real or am I dreaming?”. They actually paid for their drinks and I ordered mine and payed. They live an independent life over there. In Nigeria, don’t even try that with Nigerian girls, they will act all nice, pay themselves and curse you out in private. “Common drink he could not even buy, selfish man”.
42. No party: Nigerians are known all around the World for their love for parties especially the Yoruba people. Child naming ceremony, a party is thrown. Engagement = party. Birthday celebrations = party. Ramandan = party. House warming = party. White wedding nkoh = party. Virtually everything that Nigerians do involves one party or another. The truth is that Oyimbo’s can’t party like we do. Throughout my stay in Jand, the only parties I attended where those held by Nigerians because my white friends either invited you a party where you have to spend your own money to feed yourself (what sort of party is that?) or they just take you out, play their crappy white songs, jump in the air and go back home (no jollof rice, no drinks, no cake, no grooving). Rubbish.
43. Whack night life: I am not the clubbing type and can count how many times I clubbed while in Jand with one hand but the few times I went to white clubs, I was very disappointed. One: they play those rock, semi rock or what do they call them, raise their hands and jump in the air (that’s how they dance). Even guys and girls dance so far apart that you would think they were having a dance off. I got fed up and moved to a Naija club and it was Davido’s Skelewu (the happening song back then) that greeted my ears. “Ehen, this is home”. The place was bubbling, girls backing guys and rocking them (that’s how we dance…lol). Now that’s a night life.
44. Card comes out before cash: ATM’s in Jand are very reasonable, you know why? They give you your ATM card before they give you the cash. Opposite is the case in Nigeria, cash comes out before card and some people have out of excitement forgotten to collect their ATM cards afterwards.
45. Lowest is £10 ATM: In Nigeria, some ATMs dispense N500 while most dispense N1,000. So even if you are broke, you can still get N500 to manage. In Jand..lol, lowest an ATM ever dispensed to me was £10 that’s like N3,500 (heard some dispense £5 but I never ever saw such ATMs). So if you are broke in Jand, even the ATM machine will deny you. Damnnnn.
46. No mama put: In Nigeria, with N200 one could walk into a mama put (small restaurant), eat and walk out filled. In Jand, N200 (66 pence) is barely enough to buy you a bottle of water. Cooked food is damn expensive over there and it’s no wonder every wise Nigerian in Jand knows how to cook. Money smart.
47. Tea and biscuits: In Nigeria, the meal that brings everyone together is Rice and mainly Jollof Rice. Anything Jollof Rice can bring Hausa, Yoruba and Igbos together in one accord. In the UK, that binding force can be achieved with tea/coffee and biscuits. You can never go wrong with this one.
48. Pay for gas and power: In Nigeria, cooking gas used for cooking is usually refilled individually and then electricity bills are also paid individually. In Jand,both gas and electricity are supplied by one company which could be British Gas, nPower, E.on and many others. And be rest assured that if you don’t pay they won’t come and cut your light like those heartless NEPA people.
49. No Political Buhaha: In Nigeria, politicians place themselves on a very high pedestal that you would see a common Local Government chairman having a convoy with security. In the UK, the politicians behave like every other citizen. No puffed up shoulders. No ego. No security. No sirens. Below is a picture of the Prime Minister of the UK, David Cameron reading a paper while taking a train with common people. He is even standing. Haba, Nigerian politicians change your ways.
50. Diversity: Nigeria is a highly polarized along ethnic, religious, educational, political party, wealth lines. Even complexion lines (a dark skinned person doesn’t get the admiration that her fair skinned counterpart gets). The UK is one of the most diversified places you could ever be, there are Chinese, Spanish, Nigerian, White, American people everywhere and people respect themselves equally (apart from the few racists here and there).