I started on this journey 5 years ago. Woke up one morning totally determined to leave my job amidst uncertainties. I had always talked about getting an advanced degree but that was where it ended-talk. That morning however, I was fully decided, registered for the GRE and took the test. My joy knew no bounds when I gained an admission, I was elated but afraid. Afraid to leave my family, afraid to leave the familiar, afraid to go back to school after such a long time, even afraid to leave my job. I had never left Naija prior that, had been denied visas twice (thank you ohhh ndi UK). All I knew about obodo oyibo was what i watched on TV and what my active imagination fed me. Boy, was I shocked when i got here. Quite unlike what i had seen on TV & imagined, I learnt (1) Ndi ocha were ordinary, simple people (2) Not everyone lived in a big house with well manicured lawn (like we see in sitcoms) (3) Ndi oji did not consider you one of them just because you have same skin color (4) There is practically a name for everything (5) Oyinbo food doesn't taste as good as it looks (i've since changed my opinion on this though, now that I live in the pacific northwest, food up here tastes so good!) and last but not the least (6) I had an accent! (forget the fact my friends used to applaud my 'fone' speaking skills back in naija) lol
Living in a foreign country came with its challenges. I never knew how strong I was until I got here. So maaaaany curve balls. Financial, emotional and even mental struggles, goshhh!!. Worked all sorts of odd jobs, was it a paid job?, Yes?, I did it!.... I tutored, braided hair, took care of kids, even did bus conductor kind work sef lol, all to survive. I needed to pay my school fees and stay registered. Scheduled breaks were my best times cause i could work 40 hours/wk or more, one time I had two on-campus jobs, worked one during the day and another one through the night. As they always say, things gets better with time and true to that, I got a fellowship my third year of school which paid me well enough to ease my financial burden. I loved and enjoyed working on my research. Research in itself was tough- endless hours in the lab carrying out experiments, repeating those experiments, writing papers, attending conferences, etc... Didn't have the best of relationship with my advisor (maybe partly my fault) and this made things a bit more stressful even though as I look back now, i'd say my experience with him toughened me. I am eternally grateful for all the support I got from family and friends. When you have people who believe in you, who will stick out their neck for you and support you, there is nothing you can't achieve. God blessed me with people who supported me financially, encouraged me and prayed for/with me. My experience in the US these past 5 years has been nothing short of eventful. Just like so many international students, we all have a story...
As we get into this period of Christmas, may we find the joy, healing, satisfaction and blessings that we desire. May we remember to count our blessings and name them one by one, amidst challenges and difficult times, if we hold on and refuse to give up, He will help us win. Look at God?, Won't He do It?
Compliments of the season!