“London is what it is -a highly industrialized country,” Solomon Omosebi says, of London. “Since relocating to the UK, I have meet a lot of people from mixed cultures, groups, tribes and different language background.”
In 2019, months before the global outbreak of Coronavirus, there were approximately 6.2 million people with non-British nationality living in the UK.
In fact, the UK’s migrant population is reportedly concentrated in London. Before recently moving to London, Solomon Omosebi was living in Nigeria. He had his tertiary education in Nigeria, and observed his NYSC in Lagos State.
While many move to London for a number of reasons, chief on the list remains migrating for job opportunities in what is commonly described as going to seek greener pastures. More than ever before, this has taken the centre point as there are numerous job openings and more career websites springing up to match job seekers to available placements within the industry.
In this interview with Quillcastle Nigeria, Solomon Omosebi shares his experience living in London with tips for anyone looking to move to London in the future.
How long have you been in London? And, what’s the experience like so far?
I have been in London for just 10 months, and my experience has really been good so far. I do not consider it too challenging.
Since relocating to the UK, I have meet a lot of people from mixed culture, groups, tribes and different languages background. One way or the other, these amazing folks have impacted on my life.
London is what it is -a highly industrialized country popular as a producer of textiles and chemical products. I learnt it has been in longstanding partnerships with countries like India, with commercial trades originating from West Africa and the West Indies.
Like I said, London is what it is. I am still very new here, so I am yet to discovered enough of it.
A lot of people often describe leaving Nigeria as one of their best decisions. Maybe in terms of job opportunities and a chance to live in a country that is safer and secured. What’s leaving Nigeria like for you?
I had plans to further my education abroad during my undergraduate days. Back then, I wanted it to help me explore a new way of life while experiencing a wider scope around a developed country.
For instance, since I arrived the UK, I have learnt a couple of things. Leaving Nigeria was a good decision for me. I now have a job and I am pushing myself up gradually.
Two days are enough to face challenges, especially having left one’s comfort zone for elsewhere. What challenges have you faced since you migrated?
When I arrived London, the first challenge was the weather. The other one has to do with securing a job.
I entered London during winter. The weather was freezing. I could not work for some weeks, but as time passed, I began to adapt to the new weather.
On the job challenge, here, in London, we have different people from various countries like India, Pakistan, China, Russia, to mention but a few.
These guys are all here to invest and make money. Working with a Chinese could expose you to some sense of inferiority complex. Maybe because a typical Chinese prefers to work with his fellow Chinese brother.
It’s interesting to hear you speak about these challenges as honest as possible. Could you tell me more about life in London? Something you think everyone should know before embarking on a trip to live in London.
Taking off from where I earlier paused while speaking on securing jobs here in London. If you visit some restaurants in the UK, many of them are owned by businessmen from China or India, and it is rare to find people from African as staff.
In the event that you find, they are most likely working as cleaners. Considerably, you are required to know how to speak their languages to enhance communication. So, your ability to communicate in English might not really cut it for a Chinese, for instance.
In fact, if you are in Wales, you are required to know how to speak Welsh language. In Scotland you must know how to speak Scottish to some extent for some jobs. If you’re new in London, keep an open heart and let luck lead you.
Also, in London, time is everything -it is money and speed. And, you must learn to manage your time judiciously.
You don’t resume work late here. Otherwise you could get kicked out. I remember when I started working in the factory, it was a bit difficult to keep up with time given the distance between the factory and my residence.
The whole experience thought me a lot of things. When you’re away from home, you need to form new association and family no matter how small. Whenever this happens, I can only advise you to choose wisely and as patiently as possible.
Deciding to leave Nigeria can be a good decision if it is properly planned. Maybe for education purpose, or courtesy of an invitation. It could even be for job purpose. Whatever the case may be, bear in mind that there is no country without some challenges.
The UK is not an exception. We also have cases of robbery, murder and so on. Of course, these challenges are not as pronounced as we have it in Nigeria.
Moreso, you can’t simply be leaving Nigeria because people are leaving. You should have your purpose defined and well planned.
Take us through the process. We understand how unique people’s experiences can vary from person to person. How easy was it? At what cost? And, what did you do to pull this through?
First and foremost, I give all glory to God for making it possible. I started my application process last two years through an educational agent. The process was not easy because I had some challenges with getting my passport and some personal credentials from the school I graduated from to make it possible.
If you want to apply for student visa, make sure your O’level results, OND/ND, statement or notification of result, transcript, your passport, and your letter of recommendation from school or employer are available. This way, you can kick-start the process.
Once you credentials are intact, you should prepare for an interview with you choice of school. Only qualified candidates after the intensive interview will be awarded a letter of Confirmation Of Study (CAS) stating you are now a full time student of the university.
Afterwards, you will need to proceed to make payment for your tuition. Smooth process and procedure. In fact, your course commencement date and completion date will be boldly printed on your letter. You will also get your ID card, featuring your bio data profile.
In terms of cost, it depends on the school you choose to study. For example, my school fee costs Six million naira for a one and half year course. That’s approximately 11,500pounds.
Other schools could be different. Along the way, you will need to go for series of medical tests to include a tuberculosis test. All these also cost a fortune. For this and other payments, you should have something around 2 million naira.
For me, I spent something around 9-10 million naira. I advise that before anyone commences the process of relocating to another country, one should ensure that one is well funded to avoid disappointments.
As quickly as possible, let’s talk about culture shock. What are some of those things you consider culture shock?
When I came as a student for the first time into the UK, the common cultural shock was in the way people dress, behave, teach and speak. I figured out that the best way to overcome them was to be open-minded, ask questions, make friends and establish connections while embracing the new culture.
So, how do you relax in London, and what beautiful sights have you visited since your stay?
During my relaxation period i go to the city centre. There is a place called Cardiff Bay where you go catch some fun. My favourite restaurant is Honest Burgers while La Mandele is my favourite African restaurant in Wales.
Other beautiful sights I do go to are Cardiff castle, National Museum, St. Fagan’s National Museum of History, Principality Stadium, Wales Millennium centre, Bute Park. All these are located in Wales.
BIG QUESTION: What do you miss about Nigeria?
What I miss in Nigeria is the hustling spirit especially in Lagos. I also miss the occasional Saturday parties for weddings. Owanbe!
I miss so many things about home, to the smallest thing you can think of. How we bargain at the market before making purchase. And, how the vendor will tactically size you up before naming a price.
Lagos bus conductors have a different vibe world over, and they make a trip memorable. You know Nigeria is a drama space. I miss every bit.
Tell us the top 3 news websites you visit to catch up on developments in and around London. Also, which of them is your number 1, and why?
My best top three news website are Daily Mail, BBC News, and The Independent news. My best out of these three is Daily Mail because I am able to get more vital information. BBC is fair enough but I will give it to the Daily Mail.
What is your candid advice for anyone (especially a Quillcastle Nigeria reader) looking to move to London?
London is one of the most diverse cities in the world. Everyone wants to live here and be a part of the thriving hub and you do not have to miss out. Yeah, London is a good place to explore multiple cultures, cuisines and music, all due to the large variety of people that reside here.
My advice to anyone moving to London is that the best time to arrive United Kingdom is during the winter period. If you don’t know anything, know that accommodation is very expensive in London. London is cold most of the year.
Even if you arrive London in mid-summer, bring sweaters and other clothing that can help you keep warm. The British switch to shorts and T-shirts as soon as the calendar says its spring, but don’t be fooled, it can be uncomfortably cold, especially at night regardless of the season. When you need to rent an apartment, don’t settle anything on a handshake. Get a copy of the tenancy agreement and know your rights and obligations.