We all probably know someone who might have emigrated to another country; it could be your family, friend, neighbour or even you. There are many reasons why people move around – from the need for discovery and exploration of new things (leisure) to perhaps, more serious reasons such as escaping poverty, war, discrimination, unemployment and so on. One thing for sure, is that a migrant is leaving a familiar surrounding to a whole new world of uncertainty, fear and a hope of a better life.
I moved from Nigeria to Ireland 8 years ago and as I look back from when it all began, I marvel at how much I have changed and the transition I went through. It’s almost like becoming a new person. Your experiences and knowledge are combined; old and new becomes one. I will stop myself from digressing and focus on the topic (lol). From my experiences, discussions and what I noticed from other migrants, there are 4 aspects that were always mentioned.
Obviously, if you moved from one place to another that are world’s apart (e.g, Europe to Africa, Asia to Europe or Australia, New Zealand to any where! and vice versa), there will be a huge difference in the weather. So for instance, the first time I stepped my feet on Irish soil, it felt like I was climbing into a refrigerator (it didn’t help that I arrived during winter, Jayus!, someone should have warned me, lol). Although it was cold, the air felt fresh, clean and I was a long way from feeling so hot, sticky and sweaty. Little did I know that I would once again crave and beg for hot sun (not blinding winter sun) shining down on me like an angel.
Ahhh! this one is very understandable. Yes, yes, I know there are food everywhere you go; but you would not believe (or maybe you would) the satisfaction you get when you fill your belly with traditional food you grew up eating. It’s like home cooked meal, just how you like it with all the trimmings. The smell, taste and look of your traditional food, creates a nostalgic feeling that is sure to bring a smile to your face. Who wouldn’t want to feel that way?
Family, friends, well wishers
This is the most obvious one. If you are a migrant and you are lucky to have moved with at least your nuclear family, the impact of being very far away from your extended family, and friends might not be as grave. Although in a new country, you have familiar faces close to you. But if, like a lot of people, you are one and alone,(Phew!) it is very hard. I have spoken to people who said they suffered depression among other things. But migrants soon learn to adapt, (and even love the new place!) especially with technological advancements: They are able to communicate with people back home.
Families and friends are not the only ones that are thousands of miles away; way of life-such as social gathering, dressing, language and culture have probably been left behind too. Nevertheless, new migrant communities are soon formed with a hope of preserving the culture they are used to. However, it is never the same as the original. For instance, children of migrants born in the new country, might lose their parents culture and sense of identity.