Keli: Keli D. Images
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Nigeria, etc.
Hi, I am a stay at home mom from Houston, TX. We relocated to Lagos, Nigeria in September 2013 for my husband's work. We have a toddler that keeps us really busy plus two small dogs.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started blogging about four years ago when we were traveling often, mainly to share our experiences. It only seemed natural to continue writing about our adventure here in Nigeria. People back home thought we were crazy to move to Nigeria, but now I can show them how normal life is here. Friends and family were the reason why I started blogging; a way for them to read about our experiences. Now, my experiences can help other expats make the transition to Lagos.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
My favorite blog entry has to be, "We made it to Lagos" because it is about the very beginning of our adventure here in Nigeria. This whole process of packing, dropping dogs at cargo, running to our airplane and arriving in Lagos was/will be a day I will never forget. Another entry I like is "BBQ and Johnny Rockets in Lagos". This entry helps the reader understand what it is like to be an American expat in Nigeria. From craving a big burger that tastes like home to learning how to get by in Lagos.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Nigeria differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
My life back home was simple and easy compared to Lagos. Now, don't get me wrong, I am not complaining; just simply stating that life was easier. Nigeria takes a lot of patience and time to get the normal things done. For example: going to the grocery store or finding a place that sells furniture. Time is not respected here, and being an hour late is normal. Where I am from we have standards of service and time management, so adjusting my standards is hard. I am slowly learning to be patience and understanding to this new experience.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Nigeria? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
Overall I believe that I was prepared because my husband was purposefully pessimistic about what our life in Lagos would be like. When I arrived things were much better than he had made it out to be. The grocery stores are stocked, our place is amazing, I can still get cheese, the people are so friendly, and the weather is pretty nice. In terms of preparations, I think that we prepared the best we could.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Even though we speak the same language here they still have different ways of saying things. For example: one day I was in the grocery store and an employee was promoting diapers. He started telling me about the diaper promotion and I kindly declined his offer, but then he wanted me to "flash him". In my mind I was thinking, "are you kidding me, no way", then I stopped and realized what he was saying to me. He pointed to the sign that had a phone number and "Flash Me" written above it. I then realized he wanted me to simply call the number so that he had my number for future promotions. Simple words like that can make such a difference depending on where you are. I later told my husband and we had a good laugh about it!
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Nigeria?
- Planning is key to a smooth transition. Make sure you really do your research about the place you will live, schools your kids will attend, things to pack, ways to save money, etc.
- Patience is a must here in Lagos. Between traffic and hagglers it can get really tiring, so you learn to go with the flow. It will make life so much easier.
- Get out and experience Lagos. There is so much for expats to do around Lagos, you just have to seek it out.
How is the expat community in Nigeria? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
The expat community is huge in Lagos with many clubs and organizations you can join. It is not hard to meet fellow expats when you get out to events around town or if you have kids in school.
How would you summarize your expat life in Nigeria in a single, catchy sentence?
Relax, sit back, invite others into your life, and enjoy the Naijalife.