Nine Years Later…

Getting home for the first time after almost a year was both exciting and nerve racking. Exciting, because I had never been away from home this long and I was happy to see my family again but nerve-racking because I felt like I had grown apart from my family.

Me, on my birthday in 2011.

Before going to school, I was in boarding school with my younger brother and we would go home to our siblings relatively often. But with me abroad and them in boarding school, we barely communicated for the entire period I was away.

Our communication didn’t improve much during their holidays either because my parents were not very good at making international calls and keeping track of the time difference yet.

So, while I enjoyed being with my family, it was mostly an awkward period of trying to relearn how to relate and communicate with everyone. The three months at home went by like a breeze.

Where it got interesting was coming back to school towards the end of August. In my mind, I was ready to take on the world and excel in everything but I had no idea I was in for a rude awakening.

First shocker, finding out that I had to take Statistics and Calculus after running away from it my whole life. I thought I had finally conquered it and survived after high school so you can imagine my displeasure.

Second, was realizing that participating in class discussions was integral to my academic success. Being very shy and reserved, asking me to speak publicly was like asking me to hang myself and I promise I am not exaggerating.

Third, and probably the biggest was self accountability. There were no more teachers, caretakers or supervisors making sure I attended classes, completed assignments or participated in other school activities. My success was entirely in my hands, save for a few mentors and my dear cousin and his wife who routinely checked in with me.

Thankfully, these things are now a distant memory and have become victory stories for me.

On the flip side, I learned confidence and grew not just as an individual but as a woman. I successfully finished my undergraduate degree, graduate degree and started working.

One of the best things that have also happened to me in this country is my local church family. It’s been 9 years since I first visited the church and 8 since I have been a member and I can that it’s been one of my life’s greatest blessings.

Frankly, with the pandemic raging, this has been one of my most trying periods so far. Since leaving my job in June, there have been some really down days but I know it’s only upward from here.

I am certain of that because life always looks up and besides, I have probably faced other trying times. I just don’t remember them because I have a short memory span when it comes to difficult times.

God has blessed me so much that the trying moments are just moments and quickly fade into a haze. When I look at my life over the past 9 years, it’s gotten better year after year and I know that this is only the beginning.

Cheers to the next 9 years. I can’t wait to actually see what’s coming.

Heart to Heart: I hope you enjoyed my little journey. Tell me what you liked best or what you can relate to. ❤️❤️

9 Years Later…

It was today, exactly 9 years ago on September 15th, 2011 just about 4:30pm that I got off the Lufthansa plane at Toronto Pearson International Airport as an Unaccompanied Minor.

Coming from a country that was always bustling with noise and movement, this new environment was so serene you could almost hear a pin drop.

My parents particularly my dad had always told us growing up that we were either going to Canada, America or Germany. He would call us after the country we liked and we would dance and get excited for the future.

But I had only ever left Nigeria once; to the United Kingdom on a short two week trip organized by my high school with a few classmates. It was during the summer break so I had never been exposed to the chilly weather that defined the fall season in North America and other colder regions.

As soon as I got to the bottom of the stairs with my other classmate who traveled with me as a minor too, the first thing I did was exhale. Watching western movies, I learnt that in the fall or winter, when people exhaled, the air was cloudy and fog-like. I wanted to experience this for myself and it was almost like some sort of confirmation that I had really arrived the land that was famed to be one of the coldest countries in the world.

We walked through the airport checks keeping an eye out for the agent who had sorted out our visa and travel itinerary. The agent was waiting to receive us at the arrival terminal and after we saw our names on his placard, we walk towards him with our luggage. He took my friend and I into town to open bank accounts and then we waited a while in Toronto before heading to the city where our school was located.

While waiting, it dawned on me that I was thousands of miles away from home and then came the waterworks. I felt miserable because I couldn’t just go home when I wanted. It was especially funny because my dad never let us leave the house even to the next street and here I was in another continent all by myself. My mum actually kept questioning his decision to send me to Canada because she had always teased him for being overprotective of my siblings and I and treating us like eggs.

My first Sunday in Canada, September 18th 2020.

It didn’t matter now that I was here and focused on settling in. Things got better as we arrived at my school hostel in Waterloo. A few other of my high school friends were also at my school so I had a few familiar faces.

The next 9 months went by pretty fast. Fun days, sad days, emotional days, birthdays, heartbreak etc

The next summer came and I headed home to see my siblings….. Who knew so much could change in less than a year?

Want to know how the story continues? Check back on Sunday…. This September is dedicated to reflecting on my past 9 years in this awesome country.

Heart to Heart: Are you loving the story so far?