CULTURE SHOCK OF A NIGERIAN STUDENT IN DIASPORA

I’m not the type that has role models. In fact, I pride myself in NOT having role models. If and when I see something desirable in a man or group, I simply look out for instances where I’ve done so. When I read books, I find who I have been in the characters and players, not who I will be or want to be.

Interestingly, it has worked for me. But of course it goes without saying, I don’t have the results they have nor the requisite experience to qualify for their level of influence. Instead, I make do with my belief system and personality; what will be will be, it’s just a matter of time AND if it doesn’t be, it probably wasn’t supposed to be SO it won’t and doesn’t really affect me.

Now I’ve changed culture. I’ve traded places with individuals and people and daily, I am hit with forceful culture shocks. I still struggle with new friendships, I struggle with the weight of expectation but more importantly, I struggle with making my identity work in a new environment.

How hard can that be, right? I’ve always thought it won’t be. OAU taught me resilience and toughened my skin. Different boys from variant backgrounds and cultures. Now that I think of it, it was easy to fit in because, as different as the culture was, it was from under one roof, Nigerian. No matter how refined and modified it was, it was always the same context.

Nigeria is basically a high context communication culture. Despite our over 520 languages from 250 ethnic groups, we still are the same in communication. This change of environment has pushed this into my face and I’m shocked. I’m shocked at how Nigerians, while still under the context of our location think we are actually doing a good job of acclimatisation. Until we are, whether pushed out permanently or temporarily seek manures for our Nigerian green grass, taken out of this hellish haven do we realise the thesis: the world has left us behind.

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When I therefore look back at how I do struggle with the change in communication and daily building of culture resilience, I am motivated to be more of both. I naturally cannot and do not want to retain my ‘Nigerianness’, without making for myself role models of people and cultures of the world. Why do I do that? Does that mean I’m ashamed of my root? My language and people? My experiences and connections? I think not.

Instead, I think I am having what is called a culture re-orientation. This, in itself, is not denial nor rejection. I believe it is a kind of an elastic bubble that as humans, we are able to fill in with so much experiences and world views. I think it is a kind of a culture that has hit other numerous foreign cultures and is adjusting to the impact and inwardly reforming to make room for the dent.

It’s no big deal, actually. At least, not from Nigeria’s inside. Cultures and culture shocks as role models aren’t exactly bad ideas. But this time, not for what I’ve been nor done. It is going to be for what I can be, bring to the table when it matters and the level of influence I will be able to exert when the time comes.