Expat (IN) Nigeria? Get it? No, ok we'll explain. It's a play on words on 'expats in Nigeria trying to 'expert' Nigeria. We think it's pretty witty don't you?
This is a segment on the site where we talk to different expats living in Nigeria about their experience in a bid to show how varied their situations are and also dispel or reinforce myths.
Today's' guest is a 39 year old male who's Syrian but was pretty much bred here. He lives in Abuja and definitely knows more words in different Nigeria languages than we do. Enjoy!
When did you move to Nigeria?
My parents were here from the early 80’s, so I grew up and lived here all my life
Tell us a little bit about yourself and where are you originally from?
I was born in Syria but came to Nigeria when I was two. I've lived and worked almost all my life in Nigeria. I'm also married to a Syrian.
When was the first time you heard of Nigeria?
It’s in the genes, blood, DNA 🧬
Considering you moved here when you were 2 and see yourself as fully Nigerian, do you find that no matter what, you're always perceived as an outsider and how do you overcome that?
Of course I’m always perceived as an outsider mostly by people who don’t know me. I think it’s only my close Nigerians friends who don’t take me as an outsider.
Any hilarious situations where there's been an attempt to scam you based on people thinking you're a fresh oyinbo?
Hundreds of failed attempts, a lot of oil and gas boys with fake companies, fake construction letter of awards, fake BOQ’s, give me x amount I’ll get you this contract, x amount I’ll help pursue your payment for you...calls from so called bankers on weekends when banks are not open lol.
LMAO. They don't know you're very Nigerian. On a scale of 1-10 how Nigerian are you?
I’d give myself an 8
Not bad. What type of visa are you here?
Is the process difficult?
The process to get an STR is quite strict but not hard as long as you provide all the documents required by the embassy such as educational certificates that match the quota position you’re invited to work in with the company inviting you and of course an invitation letter from the company itself and some other related documents.
Considering how long you've been here for, why don't you just apply for a Nigerian passport?
I've applied since 2011 ooo. Buhari hasn't signed it yet. My file has been ready and waiting for the last signature along with 150 others.
Bloody hell. Moving on, what state do you live in?
What do you do for work here?
I own and run my construction company
What do you think of Nigeria so far and are you enjoying it?
Yes I’m enjoying it, Nigeria should be more than what it is, it has a great potential with untapped natural resources and talent, sadly it’s led by the wrong people who mostly are corrupt and care only about their selfish interest.
Tale as old as time. Your wife is also Syrian, was it difficult convincing her to move?
She didn't really have a choice. Before she agreed to marry me she knew this was where she was going to live. So by saying yes she automatically agreed.
Do you have kids? If yes, what’s it like raising them in a country that’s not ‘originally’ yours in terms of still imbibing your culture in them.
Yes, two boys. One is 4 and the other is 2. It has not been easy raising them here especially in terms of schools. We pay through our noses for an education that’s not up to the standard in my opinion.
Have you been to other states in Nigeria? Which is your favorite and why?
I’ve visited about 20 states, Lagos is always special since I spent most of my childhood there. Enugu is my favorite state, I lived there for 6 months and they were the best 6 months of my life.
Everyone drinks and sells drinks and the most beautiful babes in Africa are found in Enugu, they have a unique beauty - tall thighs, fair skin tone, majority of them are educated etc
I also loved that Enugu has 5 universities. The elderly are so honest and religious, it’s a complete wrap.
Any major differences between Nigeria and Syria?
Almost everything you can think of - people, food, cultures, weather, the list is long
Are there any similarities?
LOL. We know the feeling
What does your daily life look like when you’re here? (weekends inclusive)
Work-home-play with kids-shisha-sleep then I start over again.
Weekends - I see family friends and hangout on Saturday nights and on Sundays I take the kids out somewhere or BBQ at home.
Where’s your favorite place to hang out in Abuja?
Any cool quiet garden or point and kill joint, I avoid noisy and crowded areas. Siam garden, Junkyard grills..
How would you describe the life of an expat in Nigeria from your own point of view?
Most expats I know love it here, some find it difficult to cope or readjust when they go back home.
Hmmm, interesting. Why do you think expats find it hard to adjust when they go back home
I guess expats may find it hard to adjust when they go back home because most of them have gotten used to the easy life here where you always have or your employer provides you with house-helps, drivers, security guards, gardeners etc you don’t get all that comfort back home, most times you have to do everything yourself.
What’s the hardest part about living here?
Poor hospitals/clinics and expensive not up to standard schools
Do you have Nigerian friends or do you hang out with the large expat tribe we have in the country?
Most of my friends are Nigerians, family friends are mostly expat tribes.
Any Nigerian meals you like in particular?
Haaaa!!! Jollof rice, dodo, moi moi, pounded yam with egusi soup, groundnut soup, vegetable soup, Eba and draw soup, suya, the list is endless...
Love to see it. Do you have any beliefs that hold you back from fully adapting to culture here?
None at all
Best & worst thing about living here?
Best; Easy life, freedom... worst; health and education
Can you communicate in any of the local languages? If yes, say something<