Friday, December 18, 2015


I was randomly thinking of when i first moved here 13 years ago

  • I had no clue what a Coin Laundry was. For the longest time, i couldn't figure it out. I was like, is it where they go to to wash coins? But that didn't make sense. I don't remember asking anyone but I sha found out what it meant maybe 2 years after being here. 
  • Using the vending machine... I was in school wanting to get a snack but had no idea how. So i watched a couple of people, but wasn't exactly sure what they were doing, but didn't want to ask. Until a black chick came and used it, I figured she would be cool to ask as per her being a sista, for where. She was so snotty about it, gave me this irritated look and dismissively told me what to do. Winch
  • Getting soda from the soda fountain in the Cafeteria. Do i just hold the cup under the fountain or do i push something?  Most of it was the fear of making a fool of myself, but again i watched and asked questions. I learned very fast that the best way to go about things was to ask QUESTIONS! I figured i can look like a fool asking you once, but i never have to ask again, so that became my default, asking questions. 
  • Getting used to daily homework, quizzes, tests, projects in college, where you are only struggling for 20-25% of your grade in finals, as opposed to the whole grade which just one final exam like in Naija. 
  • How open Americans are with their personal lives. I was just like these people talk too much. I still can't get over one of my classmates in an honor class was telling me and our professor (there were only 10 of us in the class and we came early) about her cheating boyfriend and the professor asked if she was sure she didn't get an STI from her boyfriend and she responded by saying thankfully, she never slept with him because he had some scion scion on his penis and she wanted him to get tested. I couldn't in a billion years imagine that conversation happening between a college professor and a student in Naija! Make dem call call you Ashewo or runs girl. 
  • College students openly smoking during the day, both males and females, especially the females. I never saw a woman smoking in my life before coming here and the few guys i had seen smoking in naija was usually at night... under the cover of darkness. LOL. So that took a while to get used to. Color me sheltered. 
  • Professors wanting us to call them by their first name. I could never do it, never ever. Even till today, there are some doctors who asked to be called by their first names and i go right ahead and continue calling them Dr. XYZ. Naija people and respect, it's how my brain was shaped. 
  • Having an accent! Prior to coming here, the people who had accents to me where the deep speaking yoruba, igbo, hausa or calabar people. We had our Benin and Warri accents also. When i tell someone who grew up in Benin that someone was acting like a bini girl, they know exactly what i'm talking about and that includes the accent. Do you guys remember the recent video of a lady talking about how she used her Kpekus to make more. She was pissed and chewing gum in the video? That's a bini geh! LOL. Anyway, I was among the majority of "non accent" having Nigerian until i got here. At the end of the day, we all have accents. Someone should tell some Americans that. 
  • The bland tasting fruits and weird tasting chicken. Nothing tasted right. I almost lost my love for meat because of that nonsense. I actually don't like meat as much as i used to in Naija. 
  • In the same vein, getting used to eating large amounts of meat. In naija, you get your piece of meat and that's it. It's a wonderful day if you get two. Then i got her and you could eat only chicken for dinner if you to. Steak was the main course, with side dishes. That was so unreal. I can't lie that i didn't love it because i did. I was known for being a meat lover in my family. 
  • Learning to make eye contact while speaking to older people. This was one of the hardest ones to get used to. It took me years and years. In Nigeria looking at someone (an older person) while they are talking /lecturing/scolding you is a sign of disrespect. So you have grown wings?!  Americans on the other hand, consider you dishonest and suspicious if you don't make eye contact. It was bad! 
  • Walking by an older people, known or unknown and not greeting them or just saying Hi! Unlike Nigerians, Americans don't care if someone they don't know doesn't greet them good morning ma or sir. A real or fake smile will suffice. This haunted me up till med school. There was this older Naija transporter (move patients around) in the hospital, and he got to know i was Nigerian, he saw my name badge and asked me. I saw him pretty regularly, most times while i was with my team. The dilemma became how to greet him, should i say Hi or Good morning Sir. Ha! I tried Hi, smile and nod but only the proper naija greeting felt right. So eventually i gave in and even in front of my team, I would greet him properly. I did get odd looks from some of the residents but i was doing what my conscience and upbringing dictated. LOL. Next time when faced with that situation, I'll just greet properly and not stress myself about Americans looking at me funny. It just didn't feel right greeting an old Naija man, hi! I didn't know him outside the hospital and it most likely wouldn't have mattered, but it's ingrained. 
Mehn those early days were tough. It took me a good 2 years to adjust to being here. I was so homesick for Naija and Nigerians. I remember one day on the elevator surrounded by american classmates who never shut up of course, being so utterly irritated by the spree, spree, spree accent. I wanted to scream! Now the accents don't bother me and i'm "technically" a Nigerian-American, but  I will always be Naija for life! 


  1. That is funny! For me what I found strange is the different names given to simple things such as underwear for pants, pants for trousers, elevator for lifts and washroom for toilets etc. A sister of mine was called stupid because she was doing live-in and the customer asked her to bring her pants and although she could see trousers she kept saying to her I can't find the pants until she put her on the wheelchair and she came to lift the trousers and shouting to her are you blind?. It was difference in terminology that caused such an embarassment.

    1. Lol... That's so funny. It was weird to switch to saying underwear instead of pant. Because underwear in Nigeria doesn't exactly mean panties. I just remembered to-go instead of take-away. That was a head scratcher cos it just didn't sound right.

  2. I can imagine your frustration. We all have an accent and it becomes obvious only when you move to an entirely different environment.

  3. Oh lord! I can totally imagine. That respect thing en, it's just hard

  4. LMAO. Thankfully I didn't have a JJC period when I arrived in freshman year thanks to annual holidays here since I was a kid. Still, there were a lot of things that were really new to me as a college student and took some getting used to.

    I've noticed Black Americans are often snotty when Africans ask for help. They treated me that way too my freshman semester.

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