More like begged and pleaded with me to write a post for my oh-so neglected blog, I have returned. Honestly, I had no idea what I was thinking when I thought that I would blog my experience in Business school. Especially considering that my program was two years condensed into one.
I barely had time to call my mother every day, which was a huge adjustment because no matter where I live I would speak to my mother on a daily basis. There were days where I considered it an accomplishment to shower, get dressed, eat and arrive to school on time I was so consumed with school. And then there were other days, where I couldn’t remember if I brushed my teeth or took my vitamins. But don’t you worry; I never left the house without makeup. Unfortunately, writing posts was something I wanted to do but struggled finding the time to do so.
Real quick let me say a few things
• No, my accent has not changed. In fact, I believe I sound more American than ever. But I will admit to shift in the way I phrase things or express myself. For instance, I use words like ‘keen’ or say ‘well, now that is sorted’ rather than ‘well, now that is straightened out’ or ‘brilliant’ instead of ‘great’. The shift has been a subconscious thing. I just hear myself saying these phrases and I’m like ‘Really, since when do I say bin liners instead of trash bags?’ (Since the day you realized, no one knew what the heck you were talking about!)
• Crème Fraiche and Halloumi are two things I must have in my diet for the rest of my life. I’m obessed. Crème Fraiche is so divine. The best way to describe is a whipped cream cheese without the salt but with a yogurt consistency. I like to put it on a toasted multi-grain bagel with sea salt and black pepper. But if I’m feeling extra special I add smoked salmon and slices of ripe avocado. (Just writing this is making my mouth water.) Not even sure where to begin with Halloumi but I went through a Feta phase after studying abroad in Greece. But I broke up with Feta for Gorgonzola. Presently, it is all about Halloumi. Even though Halloumi is a Greek cheese I can’t recall ever having this when I was there. It’s best served grilled and I love it on just about anything. Anyways, enough about food I don’t even know why I am talking about dairy. I’m lactose intolerant!
• Yes, the other side of the road deal still trips me up. I almost got hit by a black cab months ago. Looked the wrong way while crossing the street and next thing you know I’ve black cab inches away from me. I think the driver was more terrified than I was. Totally, the grace of God spared me that day.
Before I let you go, I’ll tell you one quick story. You know how sometimes you observe things without realizing your taking notes until you find yourself doing the same thing? Let me explain. I noticed that people (Europeans) eat Pizza with a fork and knife. Not that there aren’t Pizza slices but on average I would say with confidence that Pizza is consumed with a fork and knife. So I too started eating Pizza with a fork and knife. But it’s not just Pizza.
While back I was enjoying a delicious toasted Croissant sandwich of egg, cheese and sun dried tomatoes. I was eating it the way a delicious toasted Croissant sandwich should be eaten: with my hands. My companion on the other hand used a fork and knife. I was so confused.
Can a Croissant be as tasty without feeling the flakes? Aren’t you supposed to make a mess? I never got the memo to use a fork and knife. Have I been living under a rock? What does Emily Post have to say about this?
I made a mental note, filed it under “Complete Craziness” and moved on. Then yesterday this fork and knife business manifested itself. I ate Chicken Wings with a fork and knife! CHICKEN WINGS People!!! Who the heck does that? I mean honestly. Chicken Wings are classified as finger food right there with Carrot Sticks and Nachos! Somebody, please check my temperature I think I’m losing it.
Strangely, I didn’t notice at first. I was so busy with conversation until I noticed everyone at the table getting down with their food. Some foods are better enjoyed when eaten with your hands. I have no idea what I was thinking when it came to the Chicken Wings last night. Needless to say I didn’t continue using them. It does make me wonder what other habits I’ve picked up subconsciously.
It’s been a long time. I shouldn’t have left you with a dope beat to step too… Step too, step too. Are you familiar with that song? Well, it’s how I feel about us. It’s been forever since I sat down and wrote a blog post. I didn’t mean to leave you hanging.
Here it is the new year and a new chapter, so let me catch you up. I moved to London. Yep, I packed up three large suitcases and paid for it. Literally, in extra bag and overweight fees. I can’t even remember what all I had in those suitcases. Not sure why I thought I needed eight pairs of heels, but I brought them all with me.
By telling you I moved, I’m sure you can figure out that I started my MBA program. It has been a whirlwind going back to school. Funny, because ten years ago I was enrolled in school too only I was a sophomore in college. This time I’m a international student in graduate school or as the English call it ‘post-grad’.
This post-grad course is no joke. At times my brain feels numb and I’m not sure if I can absorb anything else. The program was described as an intense one year MBA and somehow all I took to heart was the one year part. I complete forgot about the ‘intense’ adjective. Adios Mio.
Balancing school and this blog on top of everything else will be interesting. But I won’t desert you. It’s a promise, so let’s take this one step at a time.
By moving to London I’m doing a bit more than heading off to school. I’m also officially getting of this roller coaster ride I’ve dubbed “My transition”. It’s been 20 long months and in that time I went from being laid off to prepping and retaking GMATs, applying to schools and finally becoming an enrolled graduate student.
To be quite honest, while this process took much longer than expected I’ve enjoyed my time off. If this was a preview of what retirement will be like, then I am in for a blast. A slow quiet life wasn’t something I thought I could adjust to let alone appreciate, but I did.
One of my big life lessons during this time home was to stop fighting so hard and just be. Life doesn’t unravel the way you expect it to and so what? Who says you can’t enjoy yourself despite the circumstance? You have to adjust your perspective and learn to appreciate the little things.
That said, I didn’t come to this revelation overnight. Watching the months, then a year and a few more months go by was heart wrenching for me as an overachiever. But the pressure I felt coming from the clock was self inflicted.
Instead of wasting my time frustrated that I wasn’t at certain place in my life I made the choice to find happiness with whatever life stage I was in. I wasn’t denying the fact that I missed living on my own or meeting my Harlem friends for brunch but I wouldn’t allow myself to brood over it. See the difference?
Finding happiness with the way things are presently in my life meant becoming acutely aware of the little things that made me smile and feel warm on the inside. I used tell myself strange things like, “I will be so happy when [fill in the blank].” Why postpone happiness, especially when it can be found now?
For instance, one afternoon I was standing over the breakfast table intently icing a cake when my brother’s dog curls up on my feet. I have grown to love that dog and here he was loving me back. I was so content that I didn’t want to move. It was one of the sweetest moments of my time home. Who knew such a simple action could make me so happy?
As it turns out, those little things are exactly what I’m going to be missing when I move. From the coral and purple Florida sunsets to the mouthwatering smell of fried chicken as you walk up the Publix parking lot, I’m gonna have a hard time adjusting to life without them.
I’m not too sure if I have shared with you the details of my ongoing relationship with New York. We have this never ending love affair. The last seven years of my life have been about me and New York, whether its me moving too, living in or leaving for some reason.
The thing is I have only lived in two cities, my hometown and New York. We have a history together and I broke it off, again, last year. I’ve left the City before, but this time was different. I knew I wouldn’t be back for a while. I told myself it would be okay, that we’d hook up in the future. But week long trysts don’t make up for seasons shared.
When I left, I had no idea that sweeping views of the City during a movie montage would make my heart ache. I knew I loved New York, but I was completely unaware that I had fallen in love. In love, you ask? Yes, it’s corny but true.
Love is all about the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’ve ridden the roller coaster. I know all about hardships of moving, the difficulties of settling down, and the loneliness of being a working girl. I’m quite familiar with brutal winter snow storms, overcrowded trains, and streets that reek of urine. I adjusted to city rats, smoky sewers, and a crack head named “Roach” who roamed my block.
You see, in the midst of all that I became stronger and a little wiser. I became the woman am I now. It’s hard to ‘be’ when you no longer live in the city that taught you how. But I left because I had to move on in order to grow in other ways.
This summer I spent tilling the ground. Fulfilling your dreams requires hard work and sacrifice and I was busy doing just that. Despite my desire for a New York quickie, I went without because I had a goal in mind and a savings account that required my devotion.
So to New York, as much as I love you I gotta love you from afar. I miss you and from what I’ve been told, you miss me too.
It may be weird to say but I am not looking forward to being so far away from my family. I have grown used to seeing them on a daily basis since moving back home and I like it. Something about family makes you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside.
Don’t get me wrong, living on my own has prepared me for living thousands of miles away from home but this time it will be different. Instead of a few thousand miles separating me from my family it will be an ocean. At least, New York allowed me to remain in the same time zone as my folks, but London requires that I live in the future by 5 hours! The 5 hour time difference is a BIG DEAL considering that I talk to my mom about all things.
It’s not just about talking on the phone though. I had a crazy experience two years ago that made me reevaluate living far away. Somehow I had contracted Gastroenteritis, a stomach flu, and ended up taking myself to the emergency room.
I don’t believe I have felt so alone in my life. Nothing is worse than having to go online to find the nearest hospital, calling a cab mid vomit, and sitting alone in an emergency room for 6 torturous hours to make you wish you lived next door to your folks. Granted I will never have to experience that in London because my extended family is more than able to fill in the gap. It’s just that the times I will get to see my immediate family will be few and far between.
Anyhow, I have made sure that both my parents added Skype to their computers so that should make it easier. I will have to show my dad the Skype text function so he can continue to text me while I’m in the UK. His texts are so encouraging. The last time he dropped me off at the airport I received a text that read “Go conquer the world, Seyi.” That is exactly what I plan on doing.
Nigerian culture places heavy emphasis on higher education. It’s not enough to go to college, one must attend college and return to school for a graduate degree. No questions asked because college isn’t an option for us Naija kids, it’s a requirement.
There isn’t a discussion about school, it’s sort of just understood. Nigerians don’t ask ‘if you are going to college?’. Instead, they ask “Where are you going to college?” and “What course will you be reading?” Reminding you to ‘Make your parents very proud.”
It’s a simple equation really.
Nigerian child + collegiate degree + graduate degree = Proud Nigerian Parents (*This formula holds true for any immigrant group. Feel free to substitute your country of origin.)
Even though I have always wanted to return to school to earn my master’s, I recognize that my desire is due in part to my culture. Part of socializing in the Nigerian community is attending graduation parties. We eat, laugh, dance, and congratulate the graduate for focusing on their studies. Parents of the graduate thank God for providing the grace to raise the child and publicly tell the graduate that they are proud of them. Now how’s that for some heavy-handed reinforcement?
For some reason, I only took notice this summer. I have attend so many graduation parties that I can’t keep track. So and so graduated from high school, a childhood friend just finished medical school, a relative completed pharmacy, another person got their bachelors, and the list goes on.
My father once told me that no matter where in the world you are if you find a university, you will find a Nigerian. “We [Nigerians] know how to read book [study hard]. We read book from ‘pali to pali’ [translation: cover to cover].
I soon will be reading very hard. My MBA program has condensed a two year degree into one year. Yea, you read that right. I just might use that Nigerian study trick my father mentioned years ago. Something about placing your feet in a bucket of cold water while you read to keep from nodding off. Don’t hold me to it, though. I said ‘might’. I make no promises.