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.
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.
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