|With a group of other tourists and policemen at the Newyork's September 11 memorial park|
Nigerians makeup 70% of the non native Black African Americans living in the United states , they are densely populated in cities like Maryland, New York,Texas, Florida, California, New Jersey, Illinois, Ohio, Atlanta, Georgia, Virginia Islands. So if you are looking forward to having Nigerians you can relate with in your community, then you should consider moving to these areas.
Yes! America is the dream land, but if you don't know what to expect you may actually feel lost, these following tips will be proven useful to guide and educate you.
1.Before you leave: Have all your documents handy, valid Passport (Usually has more than 6 months on it before expiry date) ,passport photographs, invitation letter, Well packed bags and luggage, toiletries ,travelers checks, hotel /accommodation arrangements, airport pickups/cab detail. In any case have a backup plan. Driver's license (Nigerian or preferably International) if you intend to drive, you can change it after arrival. Convert some currency to dollars (Coins and papers).
Medical supplies (pain relievers, antibiotics, anti malaria drugs) . The abrupt climate change usually affect some people , thereby causing them to experience slight headaches, nausea, depression some days after arrival. It is difficult getting new prescriptions in the United states for an alien except you have a social security number or medical insurance. Have a good grasp of the English language, Dont be "Heming" and "Hawing" at every question put to you. Americans are snobs when it comes to languages, they expect everyone to speak English while they make no effort to learn or understand another's man language. Luckily, most Nigerians can speak passable English.
More importantly, do not carry contraband /illegal goods, read the airline instructions, creams, liquids, perfumes are not allowed on board flights, you have to check them in. Fill the form for native foods you are transporting, especially if hey are in large quantities to ease the inspection procedure by the quarantine /food officials.
2. Point of entry: You will observe different lines of people, US citizens, Green card holders, flight crew and pilots, EU/ Canadian citizens, foreign visitors. Join the queue that best describes your status. The visa approval you received at the American embassy at Walter Carrington is not the final entry permit into the United states, the consulate /immigration officer at the point of entry (Seaport, airport) will determine whether you can be allowed to enter or deported . Usually if you have no previous crime records, not a suspect of money laundering or terrorism and can satisfyingly convince the immigration officer that you have the funds to survive for the duration of your stay, have accommodations to live in and will return back at the end of permit period granted to you, then the officer will grant you a leave of stay, usually six months for tourist/business visitors, 2 or 4 years for students and longer periods for Green card holders/ diplomats.
3. Within the airport/ On arrival : Adjust your time piece to reflect the current time zone, USA is avast country , different states experience different time zones. While some states like Maryland, Florida, New York are five hours behind GMT, Texas, six hours behind , California eight hours behind, but Nigeria is only an hour behind GMT. Insert your coins into the phone boxes to call your hosts as your cell phone may not initially be able to pick up a mobile service even when it is configured to roam internationally .You can find nearby stores to buy new mobile service, AT &T and T-Mobile are the most popular ones. The technician will help you out.
4. Making friends: United states is one of the friendliest countries in the world, it is like a giant melting pot of all cultures, you will get to meet at least one man from your country within a few minutes walking distance, if you are so lucky, a tribesman.
Tourism will be more pleasant and easier if you have friends, colleagues,relatives to act as tourist guides or simply sign on with a tourist service company. Go on bus rides, city tours, Take pictures, taste new foods, explore and connect. There is hardly any weekend that goes by without the African - American community hosting a party: Burials, weddings, naming, child dedication, picnics,Church barbecues,thanksgivings, celebration of a chieftancy title, hosting of a royalty or king, honorary awards, clansmen meetings. Find the occasion happening at a location close to you and network.
Nigerians are so easy to locate and make out from their swags, dressing and pompous way of talking.
5. Places of interest:Nothing stops you from Visiting all the places you have always seen and liked in the American movies.
Washington: Lincoln memorial,Smithsonian institution, White house (Just like Aso rock), Capitol hill (USA's version of house of assembly), Metropolitan museum of arts, Zoological park
Newyork: 911 memorial park, Brooklyn, Statue of liberty, Empire state building, Central park, Times square.
Florida: Wlat Disney, Universal Orlando, Magic kingdom, Florida keys,
The security men and other tourists are solicitous, they will help you take photographs and pose with you if you ask them nicely.
6. Dating/Romance:Every newbie is looked on as a potential suitor, husband or wife, so as a first time visitor be open to a relationship blossoming during your stay. Usually partners are match maked and connected, marriages arranged putting into consideration, paper and paperless citizens, job prospects and suitability of candidate.
7. Transportation: 70% of the trips are done using the trains , buses or tubes(Underground trains), and in exceptional cases cabs, though they are more expensive but if you are lucky you can have access to private transport. That is if your hosts are not so busy to be driving you around. If you can survive in Oshodi, Mushin and Obalende, then you can definitely survive in a place like Newyork (The mad rush center of the universe).
The first time I entered the tube, it was like a roaring sea of machines, so much crowds going and coming, and in such an hurry too. So much noise, it took me three days to understand and make out the complex train schedules. When you miss a train or God forbid , take a train that takes an alternate route, you can end up at opposite ends, finding yourself in an unknown place different from where you want to be.
8. TV/ Entertainment :
"The best news you can hear all day is there is going to be a clear weather today "
Contrary to popular opinions that security is 100% In America,it is not totally true, maybe it is the widespread use of cable Tv to spread news and bad news sell faster or the news are just over exaggerated like Americans have a penchant for hearing the extraordinary news items. Almost every hour here is an update of a robbery, mug killing, a cop killing an innocent bystander, a school violence, cinema disaster, spouses cheating on one another, election contestants absuing themselves , social media rants and so on . The Popular Tv programs are reality shows (Keeping up with the Kardashians, Oprah Winfrey show, Ellen Degeneres show), Baseball games and Cnn news
9. Use of utilities : To be on the good side of your hosts,Be conservative in your usage of water, power supply, gas, only use them if and when absolutely necessary. The fear of light, water and gas bills is the beginning of wisdom for American residents, second to Tax deductions. Try racking up bills and you set yourself up for premature eviction.
10 Food :USA happens to be the next best place to get Nigerian food asides from an African soil, there are Nigerian restaurants, African kitchens, Chinese restaurants that serve dishes from all over the African, Asian continents and the world. It baffles me why Nigerians who have been used to eating the same starchy Nigerian food will go to another's man land and still be lusting for the same set of Amala, Garri, Swallow foods, Egusi, Efo soups when there are limitless choices of foods to choose from. Seems Nigerians are choosy when it comes to food, No wonder Nigerians caterers overseas are making lots of dollars off them.
Other useful tips:
There are scammers and hustlers everywhere, you need to be very cautious and extra careful when going out. Protect your belongings, zip up bags especially in crowded areas, buses, shops, queues,e.t.c. I was unfortunate to have a total of $200 stolen from me at the first shopping mall I visited.
Do an hairstyle that will last you for the number of days you intend to spend in the United states, braids will be ideal, if you must change hairstyle or barb your hair. Google or ask for a hair stylist that will do a cheaper home service for you, or visit the African stores/markets close to you.
On your return trip : Don't forget to shop and bring back goodies for those eagerly awaiting your return and stories from the God's own country .
No rule against making money during your stay, but do not engage or involve yourself in any illegal activity, do not drive above speed limit, engage in altercations, fights or domestic violence disputes, shoot animals at will or be involved in over party spree. . Face your business, focus on what you want to achieve and America will be good to you.
Finally ,Learn! While some Nigerians travel to the US to pick up new accents and slangs, there are other lifestyle interests to learn from , fashion, home decoration, business, style, cooking. Learn something new and be better for it.