Boston Teens in Print
The Nigerian experience: The long journey from Lagos to Boston Friday, April 15, 2011 By Osahh Aim
When I touched down at JFK Airport, New York, the first thing I noticed was the weather. Freezing! That’s when it hit me that everything had changed. It was November 7, 2010. I was in the United States. After it was certified that I’d be moving here to come live with my mom, I really didn’t know what to expect. Lagos, Nigeria, and Boston, USA, are as different as the north and south poles. The average temperature in Lagos is 83 degrees Fahrenheit, and that isn’t considered hot by the locals. It’s not an anomaly for the temperature to sometimes be as high as 120 degrees. Lagos’ population is more than seven million. Traffic is unbearable. According to Bostonians, the worst drivers are right here. I disagree. From the difference in language to finding your way around in a new environment, the adjustment is arduous. The amount of dialects and languages that I’ve heard in Lagos are too many for me to mention, but they are a lot. The two most commonly spoken are Yoruba and pidgin/Creole English. It’s a lot like patois. Saying “I’m on my way” in pidgin would sound like “I dey come.” Going from speaking pidgin to having to interact in nearly perfect English is a major part of the transition. Despite the difficult adjustments, there’s got to be a flip side. Technology! Lagos has its fair share of gizmos and gadgets but it doesn’t even come close to the level of technological development in Boston. First off, in Lagos, there isn’t constant electricity. You could be having a midnight snack and next thing you know you’re in darkness. Because of that, every Nigerian who can afford an electricity generator has one, so there’s an almost perpetual drone of generators humming in unison, like bees in a hive. Also, the air in Boston is cleaner. In Lagos, there aren’t electric cars being driven because of the cost of maintenance and, frankly, they simply don’t care about the environment that much. As long as radioactive monsters aren’t creeping around, and the grass doesn’t turn pink, it’s all good. The educational system in Boston is much easier for students than in Lagos. Something that would probably sound strange to an American is that students in Nigeria are disciplined through flogging with a cane or belt. So, most Nigerian students are very respectful and law-abiding -- not because they want to, but for fear of being flogged. I’ve been flogged so many times, I’ve lost count. Though I hate to admit it, it actually works. Over here in Boston, a student could call a teacher names and get away with detention. A student in Nigeria wouldn’t even think about it. The differences in cultures and traditions are numerous, and I’m still struggling to adapt, but, I’ve got to say, the future looks good.