Last October, I moved to Lagos, Nigeria and plan to be here for a minimum of a year. My mum moved back for a while so it has been nice to live with her and enjoy the city. Moving to a different country can be quite daunting and it can be very difficult to deal with the changes. I lived in Lagos till I was 13 and moved away. This is my first time living in the country for quite a while. I would return for holidays at Christmas for two weeks but holidays are not the same as staying in the country semi permanently. So, although the place seemed familiar to be, it still seemed quite alien and a place that was not quite mine. So far, it has been a really interesting journey full of self discovery and fun. In the short time I have been here, I have learnt a few things. How am I getting through it all without wanting to quit and run back to comfort?
There is nothing quite like getting to your destination and realising that your expectations were not up to scratch. It could be anything from money, job, housing or even the weather when you step out of the airport. All these are things you should consider before you leave so you do not get any big surprises that may ruin your new journey. With regards to housing, check policies as these differ from country to country. Even if you do not have a job when you arrive, ensure that you have enough savings to last you awhile as you look for new employment. And if you are not looking to work, make sure those savings last you the whole trip.
Embrace It All
Don’t sit in the house scared of doing anything (within reason) or worried. Explore your surroundings and get yourself acclimatised to your new country. I remember leaving home at 18 and moving into halls of residence at university. For the first night, I sat in my room so worried of leaving and to this day, I regret it. There was no need for me to stay in my room and hide. I now use that as the experience I would never want to repeat when I find myself in new and unfamiliar situations. I have set up a new blog to document my experience - I See You Lagos.
Despite embracing it all, don't be afraid to find places of comfort. When I moved back, my cousin decided to take me to a British themed pub round the corner form my house which made me very very happy!
Don’t Be Shocked If You Have a Bad Week/Month
It is all part of the experience. One day, you might find out that you do not seem to have it all figured out. Your job is not living up to your expectations and you may feel lonely. It could even be that you miss your favourite food and cannot watch your favourite TV show. All these things may seem quite trivial but when you are in a vulnerable position and feel quite low, these things start to feel important. Allow your self to feel sad but then try and turn those things into a positive. When I got here, I immediately missed my favourite vegetables and could not find them anywhere. Yes, trivial to some but this was important to me and was part of my daily routine. Although feeling quite sad about it, I made it a point to find alternatives and I am even looking into buying seeds so I can plant a small garden on my balcony.
You are in a new city and bound to bump into new people like you. Seek them out and be surrounded by other travellers like you and/or locals. It is great to exchange stories of the highs and lows of moving plus its always nice to have a crew for nights outs.
Understand the Culture and Customs: No one is saying swot up on everything there is to know, but at least make it a point to assimilate yourself in your new settings. Also, do not despair and get frustrated if you do not understand especially if you are living in a non-english speaking country.
Do Not Forget the People You Left Behind: Because one day you will return and find that life continues regardless. Keep in touch with your friends and family as much as possible. I make it a point to bug my friends and Facetime them as often as I can (despite the terrible internet).
Beautiful places to run away to for a year
This eclectic country gets millions of gap year students and other visitors each year. From it's picturesque beaches to wonderful food and crazy parties, it is generally a fun place to spend a long time. It is very unlikely that you would get bored.
This is one place that really struck a cord with me after watching Brazil with Michael Palin on BBC. When we think of Brazil, we think of the beaches of Rio and the favelas but there is much more to it than that. Palin travelled the length and breathe of the country showing the diverse culture, customs and landscape.
This is number one on my list of places I would like to take a visit to and plonk myself down for a year or two. With my sister living in New York/New Jersey and one of my friends moving to Philadelphia last year, I can already see the appeal. There is so much to explore in this large country with a diverse range of people and places. From the snowy areas of Colorado and Wisconsin to sunny LA and Miami. Fikki and I recently took a trip to America. Check out our experiences in New York and Washington.
Above all, have fun and enjoy it. A new adventure is one that everyone needs in their lifetime. It is a time to reflect, think about directions in life or simply have fun. Whether it be a year abroad as part of university, a gap year or a sabbatical, it is an experience you will think about for time to come.
Do you have any tips for long term travellers? Leave a comment below!