I live in Nigeria, and every time I drive by the embassies in town, there’s always so many people, so much activity and streams of anxious visa applicants hoping to leave the country. Only during weekends and public holidays are there no crowds. We’ve always believed the grass is greener overseas, so we do all we can to cross the bridge – till we discover the truth.
Even at airports, you can tell who’s making that trip for the first time. Their luggage is always over the allowable limits (which they must spend hours repacking) or they’ve got loose items as carry-ons.
You can also tell who’s going for a visit, who’s going for business and who’s got plans never to return home. Those who are going for a visit look usually calm and composed. They are either reading a book on their Kindle or playing a game while waiting for the flight. Those who are on business trips are busy on their laptops plotting graphs or reviewing presentation slides while waiting for the boarding announcements.
And the last group? You can find those making the trip of a lifetime pacing up and down the terminal. They are loud on their phones, telling every Tom, Dick and Harry about their trip. They spend their time in and out of duty-free shops with no plan to buy anything.
Do you hope to join the last group and one day move overseas? If so, here are six questions to ask yourself before you apply for that visa.
Why Am I Moving?
This is the most important question: get this one wrong and the others won’t make sense either. Many young people are easily influenced by what their peers do.
Moving overseas may be seen as an adventure until they hit the rocks. Many are keeping up with the Joneses and don’t know what they really want in life. If you think Africa is tough and it’s going to be a “bed of roses” overseas with no hard work, then you’re up for some surprises.
Living overseas isn’t for everyone. Some like it, but others detest it. You don’t have to move because everyone is moving. You don’t have to endure a horrible marriage because you were so determined to live overseas and left your spouse and children behind. You must define your own objective of moving.
What Am I Going To Do?
Without a plan, you may end up somewhere you don’t want to be. Most people who move overseas just for the sake of going “somewhere different” end up not any different or even worse off than if they had stayed home. Are you going to school? Stay focused on that. Are you going for a spouse hunt or a new beginning somewhere else?
Unfortunately, if you are on the run, moving overseas won’t solve that. Some people think their country is all messed up and the solution lies in Europe or America. But when they get there, they realize it’s still a struggle.
If you can’t make the best of what you’ve got now, who says you’ll do any better there? If you have a family of your own, never plan the move for yourself only. Think about what your spouse and kids will be doing also, and if this move will be beneficial to them.
Where Am I Moving To?
Depending on your objective of moving, your location should meet that need. A few folks decide to move to a country in Europe, and when they don’t quite get what they want, they go off after some juicy job opportunity they’ve heard about in Qatar.
When you check on them a few years later, they are in Canada. Moving could be very destabilizing for your spouse and kids. Each new place is a new beginning where they have to get used to the culture, make new friends and settle in.
Even though the juicy jobs are in the world’s major city centres, are you sure you want to be caught in the hustle and bustle of a hectic life while your family life is sacrificed? Checking out your options on the Internet is great, but many have been disappointed to find out that what they found on the ground wasn’t what they saw online.
How Am I Going To Move?
You’ll most likely use a plane to go overseas from our lovely continent, but I’m not referring to your means of transportation in getting there.
Do you want to “spy” out your location, get a job, buy a house and settle in before your family comes over, or are you so desperate that you want everyone making the trip together for the first time? Have you saved up enough cash for this journey or you will live from hand to mouth, depending on relatives for accommodation and upkeep?
Will you move in the winter or the summer? Most people just get up and go without considering the details and get into trouble with little or no planning. Do you want to shut down completely with no strings left behind or you want to keep your options open if things don’t work out quite as you planned?
When Am I Moving?
The stage of your life when you make your move is very crucial. Some folks decide to move right after college; they may want to do some postgraduate study, and then decide to stay after finishing until they get a job. But the juicy job doesn’t come, and it’s almost five years later. Without a job, they can’t settle down to start their family or even buy a house. Now ten years have passed since they’ve been overseas; they are yet to have a dream job, and it’s as though their lives haven’t started.
Others get a job and get married, and having saved a bit with some investments back home, they decide to leave. They want to move to give their kids a better education or to gain international experience in their chosen career. A few others move just after retirement when they are old and grey, for them, it’s a dream life with access to good medical care and quiet in the countryside.
What If My Plan Doesn’t Work Out?
Many Africans are very hopeful: even in the midst of trouble and tragedy, you hear many say “It is well.” Unlike those from the West who often have a Plan B, we always hope our plans work.
If they don’t, we’ll continue to struggle or manage until another opportunity comes along. Why then would you have a nervous breakdown in another man’s country, running from pillar to post trying to survive when you can return home honourably? Unfortunately, those who have sold their houses, cars and investments to move overseas will be under much more pressure to make sure things work anyhow. In the event that you have moved to a location with serious security or natural disaster issues, you won’t need a prophet to wave the flag when it’s time to move on.