“It took me almost two months to find a job in Canada”

The Nigerian experience is physical, emotional and sometimes international. No one knows this better than our articles on #TheAbroadLife, a series where we detail and explore Nigerian experiences while living abroad..


This week’s topic on living abroad is a tech bro who was tired of living in Nigeria with no income or power, so he decided to continue his education and find work in Canada. He shares his struggles managing expenses and making friends as an international student.

When did you decide to go abroad?

In 2019, a family member kept telling me about Canada and the opportunities I could get there, including a post-grad work permit after school and higher chances of permanent residency than in most from other countries. I wasn’t obsessed with it at first, but a year later I started comparing the pros and cons of living in Nigeria versus living abroad. I realized that I could develop my technical skills, work and get my master’s degree all at the same time. Being in a functioning country will also help, given the power issues in Nigeria and all.

I should have applied in 2020, but after much procrastination, I applied in June 2021 and was admitted two months later, in August.

What challenges did you face in Nigeria?

It started when I applied to study electrical engineering at a university and was given physics instead. I didn’t like it, but I had to study it for five years. It made me resent the whole system. Fast forward to a year after school in 2019, I became interested in technology and started learning software engineering full-time through paid online courses. But it was not easy because of power problems. There was almost never any light where I lived in Lagos, so I always had to pay for work space. At that time, I was not even working. My parents always wondered when I was going to find a job, but with my diploma, I couldn’t get jobs that would be enough for me.

So, Canada. How was the moving process?

I had to obtain the necessary documents and secure my medical examinations. The visa application was not that difficult because an agent was handling it for me, but you see the medical exams? I was traveling to Abuja literally every week to sort it out. I also had to provide proof of funds. The whole process took about four months. You have to be very thorough when filling out your paperwork, otherwise you may have to start the whole process over again. Also, I’m a big procrastinator, so the process took so long.

When did you arrive in Canada?

End of January 2022.

Have you experienced culture shocks?

Yes. Especially when it comes to titles. No adult here cares about your “my” and your “sir”.

Also, I would say making friends is hard here. In Nigeria it’s easy to get people to help you with a thing or two, but not here. You’re alone most of the time, and that’s dangerous because what happens in an emergency? It can be a very lonely life here.

Are Nigerian communities not offering assistance?

You would be shocked if some Nigerians do not want you to succeed. They prefer not to tell you about the system so that you can suffer as they did when they arrived. It is hard to find someone loyal or trustworthy enough to call your friend, even among other Nigerians.

Can you share some of your experiences on this?

I was part of an Afro-Caribbean society when I arrived, and I befriended a Nigerian called Dapo. I remember wanting to learn things about surviving in Canada and always asking him questions, but he never took the time to explain things to me. He was always busy and never answered her calls. Imagine what it felt like for a new immigrant with no family here. I had to find my bearings on my own.

What do you think are the advantages of living in Canada?

There is a system that works for everyone. Even if you didn’t go to school, you can find a job that would pay the same as someone who did. School is almost a luxury or a second thought here as it does not affect your income level. I can also get medicine at a subsidized rate here. They allow students to ride public buses for free, using a card valid until September 2023.

What are the disadvantages ?

Managing finances and operating costs is difficult for a student. My rent is $900 a month. I make $300 a week as an administrative assistant at a call service company ($15 for 20 hours a day), and that’s not always guaranteed. Some days there may be no work, so I won’t have any money. I also pay taxes of $100 a month. The only thing that helps me is that my parents send me money which covers part of the rent. It’s hard to save because as I get my income, it comes out almost immediately.

Finding a job was also very difficult. It took me almost two months to get one in Canada. Indeed, many international students apply for the same jobs. I even had a friend who waited six months before finding a job.

How do you juggle between work and school?

It is not an easy task. I spent sleepless nights. Most of the time, I have to discuss my class schedule with my manager so he can create a work schedule based on the days I’m free. Sometimes I would go to work in the morning and then I had a lecture in the afternoon. I know people who work at night. You also need to be careful and set aside time to cover the days you haven’t read, so you don’t slack off on your studies.

Would you ever return to Nigeria?

Yes, I will definitely do that. I miss the air and the warmth of Nigerians in Nigeria. Here, friendship seems forced. But I won’t come back until I get my master’s degree, hone my software engineering skills, and earn some money. Nigeria is not the place you want to go back to without a good job.

How much money do you think you need?

Given the situation in Nigeria, any amount of money that I call at this time may not be enough in the next two months or so. I don’t want to be too specific, but hopefully I’ll be back in the next four to five years or so when I’ve made millions.

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