A lot of people have always wanted to travel to study abroad. Whether this being for their first, second or third degree, that being undergrad, masters or doctorate. You might have visualized yourself in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom or even Australia studying in universities in those countries.
While this is a worthy ideal, the first step in this process is to answer the “why” question. Why are you looking to go abroad to study? You could always attend a local university in your country if literacy is the reason for this conquest. Maybe the idea behind going abroad to study is to land a better job when you return to your country of origin.
The thing is when you land that dream job, then what’s next? You could want to go study abroad to equip yourself to be ready to take advantage of opportunities that may arise in the future in order to be financially secured. In this case the angle is financial, while this is a strong motivation, the next question logically becomes what will you do when you get the money or position you seek?
Most people fail to understand that financial benefit is literally just an idea away and while its common to think of money as a solution, this is a misconception that has been held by people for years, because in reality money is simply just an extra option. Stop and think about it for a second, which comes first the wood or the heat? Of course, the wood comes first and when its set on fire, the heat becomes the byproduct of the combustion process. It’s the same with money, which is the byproduct of any typical value chain apparatus.
You could literally start making money this second, all you need is to offer some sort of value to select people and the byproduct would start to trickle in. So, in reality you don’t really need the four walls of a university to make money. However, let’s say you’ve sold it to yourself that somehow you do, we are back where we started, which is what will you do when you bag that degree from Princeton and get all that gwap? what’s your innate “why?”
In my case, studying abroad was never on the cards. This wasn’t something I had contemplated or planned to do, simply because during my undergraduate years while studying in a university in Nigeria I had applied to different universities in the United States, got offers from a few, then narrowed down on the one I wanted to transfer to. All was fine and it looked like I was destined to transfer my credit to an American university, but somehow the process fell through and I was stuck wondering how the whole thing failed.
This experience left a sour taste in my mouth and I made a vow that I was never going to travel abroad to study. Fast forward to when I bagged my bachelors of science degree which was in biochemistry by the way. You see there’s usually a mandatory national service when each citizen is done with his/her first university degree. This is called the National Youth Service Corp. In China, its known as a compulsory military service. I was posted to Northern Nigeria for my NYSC service year.
I was posted to a very remote mining rural community which was situated in a thick forest, 18km from the express way. With no mobile telecommunication network and houses although in the 21st century, but still built with mud. If you wanted to make a phone call you went to a magic spot, which meant you plug your earpiece to the phone and lifted your hands up to trap the network, when one bar registered, then you could start dialing away, but again due to poor network connectivity, the calls weren’t clear.
I was able to overcome all challenges faced in my new environment and started a thriving business, which I sold 4 years later. In the coming years, I was to start 2 more businesses which were to also do well. Then why did I decide to travel to England to get a master’s degree? This of course is the reason why you decided to click on this blog post because I’m sure like many others you’re trying to overcome all hesitations with a strong coherent answer to your “why”. So, let’s dive right to it.
In the year 2010, my business at the time which had to do with online trading lost a lot of money. The sum of which was so huge that at the time I thought we weren’t going to recover. Back then, I had a girlfriend, whom together we had a son. So do the math, girlfriend, son and loss of funds. Suffice to say, things got pretty tough for me, maybe more than just pretty, it was really rough lol.
My mum was the one who suggested that I apply for a master’s program in any university abroad, I was opposed to this line of thinking, because of the bitter experience of being so close to transferring to a university in the United States was still fresh in my mind. I nuked my mum’s idea and would not consider it.
In my mind, this was a no go, that was till I visited my girlfriend in her university, the university of Port Harcourt, Rivers state, Nigeria. Which so happens to be my alma Mata as well. On this visit, I was to pass through a certain district at the heart of the capital city of this state.
I noticed an office that flew a banner which advertised educational tourism. I went in and after a lengthy conversation, I was sold on a university in England which had little to no black people there. The question is….and I’m sure this is your question as well, why England? and why a university where there are no black people in a country known to be institutionally racist?
Well, the answer to the first one is actually quite obvious, I chose England because of the bad experience I had when I tried the United States. At the time, I was still studying for my undergrad, plus the UK is literally 6 to 7 hours away from Nigeria by plane, which is considerably closer to home than other options on the table.
And why a university with little to no black people in attendance? Now this was to be my “why” moment, the answer of which actually shaped my studies in the UK, affecting everything I did in England and even what I did when I returned to Nigeria from bagging my master’s degree.
Let’s break it down together. I am a Southeastern man from Nigeria, who has known black people like myself all my life, from my small village in Umueze – Ohiya, Abia state to Abuja, the federal capital city of Nigeria. Not discounting all other states in Nigeria that I have been to and lived in all through my life.
Why would I want to travel abroad to meet the same kind of people I’d spent my whole life living, talking and working with. It just didn’t make any sense to me, if I was going to travel to another country to study for my master’s degree, it had to be in a city and university that had little to no black people, because I wanted a different experience.
I wanted to be able to tap into my new network of friends living in Canada, Germany, the U.S, China, Australia, Jordan etc. whom I studied with, finding out economic details about their countries with a futuristic intention of doing business with individuals’ from these locations.
This made economic sense to me. And even though I was to eventually find out that there’s no place on earth that black people do not reside in lol, meaning there were blacks in the university in England I was to attend, it was fine by me, because upon attending that university for my master’s degree, I had realized my why.
This was to guide decisions I made as to whether I wanted to work while studying abroad, as to the kind of questions I asked during my classes, the quality of friends I made during my stay in this country. In fact, the answer to my why ensured that the first job I landed upon arriving Nigeria paid me in dollars.
There’s a famous quote that says; “the man who knows ‘how’ will always get a job, but the one who knows ‘why’ will always be the boss”. I urge you to narrow down on your “why” today as it will save you a lot of stress and literally help your decision-making process. I found this out first hand as my ‘why’ didn’t just help me settle easily abroad, but also ensured that I re-integrated quicker into the swing of things when I returned to Nigeria. Wallace D. Wattles said that; “the hardest thing for humans to do is to maintain consistency of thought”.
If you plan on traveling to study abroad, think deeply as to why you want to do this. So that when things start to fall apart, your why would be your saving grace. I hope my 2-cent worth has been helpful to you. Whether you happen on your why or not, make a decision today, as there’s no downside to studying abroad as the long-term benefits far outweighs the demerits. So, say; ‘yes’ and start your process today, because on your way to Damascus you could just discover your reason, the answer to your ‘why’.