The subject of today’s Abroad Life is a 25-year-old woman who lives and studies medicine in Dominica. She talks about how she got the admission, the fact that there are a lot of Nigerians there, and why she wants to leave once she’s done with her programme.
First things first, where are you right now?
I’m in Dominica.
Haha I knew you would say that. No, they’re different. Dominican Republic is the more popular one. You know when people say they’re going to the Carribean, Dominica is one of the countries there.
Cool. What’s happening in Dominica?
I’m a student. I’m studying medicine.
Why all the way in Dominica?
First of all, it’s cheaper to study medicine here than in the US. Secondly, I don’t get to spend six years like I would somewhere else. It’s four years here.
Cool. So when did you get there?
May 2019. It’s been more than a year.
How did you choose to study at Dominica?
Pop-up ads. Obviously I did some investigation, but I saw that it was cheaper and I was like, “Let me just try this.” I also saw that there were some scholarships for international students. It was a long shot but I tried it anyways. I got admission into the school, but we still didn’t have the money so I was already forgetting about it. But at some point, the money suddenly came in and I just left.
Did it take long to process your visa?
I didn’t get a visa until I got here. It was super easy.
Awesome. Are there many Nigerians there?
A lot. Dominica is smaller than Ibadan and its total population is 70,000 people but Nigerians are everywhere. After actual Dominicans, the most popular people here are Nigerians.
Do you know why?
It’s because of the schools. I can’t see why Nigerians would be here if not for the schools.
Did seeing so many Nigerians make you forget that you were abroad?
I have missed home, but it’s not bad. I always have someone to talk to. There’s a strong sense of community here among Nigerians.
What’s the typical Dominican lifestyle like?
First of all, there’s light every time. Their major language is Creole but everyone speaks English so that’s great. About ninety percent of the people here are Christian as well so that’s nice for me. I attend RCCG here. Oh and my house is by the water!
I don’t think I can ever understand their food combinations. In Nigeria, we eat rice, stew with plantain and chicken. But here you can see rice, mac and cheese, yam, boiled plantain and bananas with gravy all in the same plate and you wonder why they don’t separate it.
Or why don’t they use it as a sacrifice to the gods.
Exactly, it just needs palm oil.
Are they nice people?
They are obviously not as friendly as Nigerians, but they are okay. It’s not like they’re welcoming you with open arms, but they’re not pushing you away.
Do you still want to stay there when you’re done?
Why? What do you not like about Dominica?
It’s a small island and there’s just one major hospital here so there aren’t that many opportunities. They’re too relaxed over here and I fear that if I stay for too long, I might catch that complacency fever.
So they’re not hustlers?
They close their banks by 2pm everyday of the week except Fridays when they close earlier.
Interesting. Coming from a hustling environment into a complacent one, how was fitting in for you?
On my first day here, I didn’t eat. It was a public holiday and they don’t open stores during holidays. I just came in and there was no food anywhere so that was a major shock for me. My housemate that came before me had garri so we had to drink garri before we could get someone to bring food for us the next day. But I adjusted.
Do a lot of tourists come around?
They do. Cruise ships come around. There are some nice tourist attractions here. But I think I’ve only been to one or two. I’m too busy doing doctor stuff. It’s a different mindset when you come here specifically for a vacation. There wasn’t a lot of movement for a while because of COVID though
How did the entire COVID-19 time play out?
Everyone was super scared, but I loved how they tackled it. Once they heard about the first case, they closed the airport and seaport. The country didn’t have up to 50 cases because they acted fast.
What’s social life like in Dominica?
They like partying on Fridays but I’m always indoors Netflix and chilling.
What’s one story you always like to tell people about your experience in Dominica?
I felt the Earth shake.
Last year. It wasn’t an earthquake, it was a tremor. I could feel the Earth shaking violently. It lasted for an entire day. It would just come and go. I was super scared. People were just going about their business like nothing was happening. They said “Oh it happens”.
What do you miss the most about Nigeria?
Food. Pounded yam.
Have you heard about the EndSars protests?
Yes, but haven’t they scrapped the unit now?
They do that every year. Is there a buzz about it there
Yes. A lot of Nigerians here are putting it on their WhatsApp statuses. But there are no marches. The Nigerian embassy is in Barbados.
Nice. How easy is it for you to go to other countries in the Caribbean?
You’d have to take a plane. You need a visa.
One thing about living here that scares me is the roads. They are so tiny and slopey. And some drivers here are crazy.
Apart from being a medicine student, what else do you do?
I make cakes. I have a really nice customer base and I’m selling really well. I bake at home, so it’s easy for me.
Do you live alone?
Yes, I’m supposed to have a roommate but she ran away.
What do you mean “ran away”?
When COVID came, she Japa’d back to Canada. She’s Canadian. I wish I could easily do the same. I miss home. But the journey here cost about one million naira. And it took four days.