Many may agree that it takes not only courage, but also determination for a person to leave his country of origin, fly for more than 4000 miles, solely in the quest for knowledge and self-development. Coming from Nigeria, a country in West Africa, with totally diverging cultural and societal values, it was interesting to be adopted into a new society, learning a foreign way of life.
Many noticeable differences exist between such complex societies as Nigeria and the United States, most of which are hinged on culture, language, food, and lifestyle.
Culture, which is simply the social make-up of any society, plays a pivotal role in shaping behavior. It is natural to experience a “culture shock” when introduced to a new culture. A typical example of culture shock in America for me was having to show an ID before buying alcohol at a liquor store. Ha! This is not to say that Nigeria is a lawless society, but unlike the atomistic culture of the American society, the web of interaction and social bond is much tighter. This serves as a sort of “safety valve” that checks behavior.
It is imperative to state that Nigeria has over 250 different tribes, each speaking its own unique language, but that not the direction of the gist. Although the educational curriculum is in English, there are still some hilarious differences between American and Nigerian English. It’s not strange to hear people in America ask questions like “are you mad?” when they think you are upset, or “you are so silly,” when they feel like you are being comical. These remarks in Nigeria are deemed insulting and will probably be met with a frown. This difference in language is perhaps incumbent on the fact that English remains a second language over there.
“Every other thing can pass away but man must eat.” This statement suggests the importance of food to human existence, and the eating habits built around this facet of culture. Cooking is a big part of the Nigerian culture, as most individuals in their formative years adopt this habit from parents and peers. To this end, eating out is considered more of leisure than an everyday activity. It can be argued that the fast-paced life of the American society fuels fast-food businesses, but it still remains a fact that a majority of Americans prefer these “quick spots.”
Lifestyle encompasses almost all aspects of living. For instance, given that Nigeria is a temperate region, people dress a lot more differently from counterparts over here in the United States. Also, with higher advancements in technology, social media is a “big deal” in America as most individuals and businesses employ this as tools for relationship building. However in Nigeria, interpersonal relationship still thumps virtual relationships. People are more committed to face-to-face interactions than those that occur online. The dissimilarities of lifestyle can go on and on, touching on aspects of social, economic and political life. Heck! Even differences exist between the values upheld by the American and Nigerian Presidents.
For individuals new to the United States, many questions may arise, like “Why is the NFL called football, when players use their hands?” Or “Why is the Dime smaller than the Nickel when it values twice more?” The most appropriate answer I’ve come to accept is … “This is America, land of the wild west.”