In the first edition of our ‘Hot topic of the day’ column, David Hundeyin shared his thoughts on whether studying abroad is overrated or not. This is the concluding part of . Do enjoy and share your thoughts with us as well.
One important thing many Nigerians infected with the “I must study abroad” bug fail to understand is that you owe something to Nigeria. Nigeria has given a lot of us a fairly stable environment and a reasonably prosperous economy from which we have the jobs and businesses which net us the volume of money required to travel for study. Across Africa, the story is very different. The only Africans you find studying abroad who number in the thousands and are not on government scholarships or foreign assistance are Nigerians. Nigeria is probably the only country in Africa where Black people have a reasonable chance of achieving their dreams, fulfilling their potential and living in relative peace.
So when you go abroad to study, taking money out of Nigeria’s economy to develop a European or Asian economy (as I did), bear in mind that you are there to gain something more than just a piece of paper which supposedly entitles you to a comfy 9-5 office job in Victoria Island paying N350,000/month. You are there to gain skills, experiences, wisdom, relationships and lifetime lessons after which you will return and use what you have gained to benefit Nigeria. You are not just going abroad to earn a piece of paper and smile for the camera on graduation day. You are going there as an ambassador of Nigeria.
You are going there as a pioneer of Nigeria’s on going renaissance – one of those who is to effect skills transfer from abroad back home. You are going there to gain wisdom and view the world from a wider angle – to learn about the true place of Africa and Nigeria in the global system and why this is, and what you can do to help correct it. You are not going there to look at the good roads and shiny cars and high speed trains and tall buildings only to come home and spend your time complaining bitterly about how Nigeria does not have these things. Nigeria gave you the opportunity to even see those things with your bare eyes in the first place – it is your duty to try to create those things in Nigeria.
In summary, studying abroad was the most wonderful, illuminating, brilliant time of my life and I would do it all over again. However, it turned out well for me because I had the right circumstances and I had the temperament to discipline myself and remember who I was. It is not for everyone. If you know you cannot guarantee your financial situation beyond the next six months, studying abroad probably might not be the best idea for you. The people abroad want your money and not you. Remember that. Also if you cannot guarantee that you have the right mental constitution to keep yourself from falling apart and losing yourself once confronted with freedom, sex, alcohol and fast living (and this is unavoidably part of the university experience anywhere), please keep yourself at home where the margin for error is wider. If you flop in Nigeria, you can get up and try again. If you flop abroad, you may not survive it.
So is studying abroad overrated? No it most definitely is not. If your head is screwed on and you have the enabling circumstances, you will have the time of your life and you will come out a better person for it. Some of my most cherished friendships and memories stem from those three years I spent in East Yorkshire. I still maintain close relationships with friends from all over the world. I got to share a house with people from India, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Czech Republic and Zimbabwe. The amount of fun and good memories I had is a post for another day. I also got to study a tailor made programme which I can proudly say does not exist anywhere else on earth (Creative Writing and Media, Culture & Society). These are the perks and advantages you get from studying abroad. Mostly, it is just extremely good fun.
As long as your head stays on.