9 Ways I Experienced Culture Shock When I Moved to the US From Nigeria
Start writing a post

9 Ways I Experienced Culture Shock When I Moved to the US From Nigeria

An article explaining some cultural differences that came as a surprise to me when I arrived in the United States.

9 Ways I Experienced Culture Shock When I Moved to the US From Nigeria
Chidinma N.

As a Nigerian non-immigrant, I grew up in Nigeria for most of my life but I was exposed to a good amount of Western culture. My country was colonized by the British and we got our independence in 1960; not too long ago. So growing up, we were exposed to a lot of their culture including American culture. We grew up watching Cartoon Network, Disney, Nickelodeon and some of my favorite shows were Big Time Rush, Victorious, and iCarly. Obviously, these shows only showed some part of the American culture but the basic information about the culture, food, way of life was now familiar to me. I had little to no issues understanding the accents. As such, I did not experience great culture shock when I came to America.

However, I still experienced some culture shock, and here are some of them I listed below:

1. Smiles are a way of greeting


I would be on the walkway to my class in a hurry and someone walking the opposite way towards me would glance in my direction and give me a quick smile. Initially, I did not know how to respond because the questions in my head were: Do I know you? Why in the world are you smiling at a stranger? I would just look away and keep walking. I had no intention to be rude but it was very weird and uncomfortable. I got used to it though over time and I had to remind myself consciously to smile back. Now, I do it out of reflex reaction.

2. Eating at restaurants are the norm


I found it interesting that Americans loved eating out so often as three times a week. In Nigeria, we mostly cook our food and eat out on days of special occasions like lunch on Sunday after church, birthday, or weekend dinner. For us, there is always a reason before visiting a restaurant. But here, people eat out just because.

3. Informality with elders/people in authority


At home, we have to give utmost respect to people who are older than us or in authority because it is our culture. We take what they say as extremely important and are never meant to disobey them. This is not a bad practice but on the flip side, the young ones fear the elders and are never allowed to express how they really feel. So it is mostly a one-way conversation. In America, everyone is free with themselves in sharing their opinion. I noticed that when I give my opinion sometimes, naturally I tense up because I expecting the person to shout or tell me to keep my opinion to myself. My culture makes me more cautious about what comes out of my mouth. It's a nice feeling to just speak my mind.

Also, older folks are okay with others calling them by their first name. That till today is absurd. In Nigeria, there has to be a title attached like Mr., Mrs, Aunty, or Uncle.

4. Education is FREE?!


WHAT? If that is not a blessing, I don't know what is. It is incredible to see that pre-university education is free for everyone living in America so that everybody has a chance with at least a high school diploma. However, the case is different in other countries.

5. Being out in the countryside is a choice


I found it weird that people chose to live out in the countryside with animals BY CHOICE. They were not forced into it because of the unfavorable conditions but genuinely enjoy it. Don't get me wrong, people do the same back in Nigeria but they employ people to do the work for them. But here, the owners enjoy the work even without profit.

6. Americans are quite ignorant


Due to no fault of their own, a lot of Americans have never left the confines of their state, not to mention their country. They have lived with the same class of people all their lives and it tells on them especially with the kinds of questions they ask me. It's uncomfortable to be asked questions that they should already know the answer to about Africa but, I guess the media does not do its job well and, gives an inadequate or partially true story of my continent.

Since they live in their bubble, they have an obscure understanding of other cultures around the world. Compared to the number of people who travel outside the country for exposure, Americans are the least inclined to travel out of the country. I believe it is because it provides a comfortable lifestyle for the average American so there is no curiosity beyond their four walls.

7. Influx of other languages


I was surprised to see that Spanish was spoken by a large group of people in Texas. I was not expecting that at all.

8. The lack of public transportation


It was surprising that some American states do not have basic public transportation, especially in Texas excluding the major cities. It was hard to wrap my head around it because I thought it was a basic necessity for a city to have public transportation. Cars are expensive and have become a necessity in these areas. In Nigeria, owning a car is a luxury.

9. Children can be independent at 18


Some parents cut their children off of their finances at 18 or the children choose to live by themselves. The economy of Nigeria does not really allow this to be a possibility because it is harder to survive independently at such a young age. So it is normal for a college student to expect money from their parents in Nigeria but it is different in the U.S. A lot of college kids I know are independent of their parents when paying for their bills like rent, utilities, and so on and they find it very hard to request for money from their parents.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Melisa Im

My Ethnicity

Hispanic is not a race... it’s an ethnicity. The term Hispanic describes a group of people whose common thread is language and/or culture. I’m a Hispanic woman born in Argentina to Korean parents. I self-identify as Hispanic/Latina and my personal experiences can’t be summarized by the color of my skin or the languages on my tongue. That is because every single person in the universe has a unique experience. Whether someone labels me as Korean or Argentine or American, that will never change my experiences as a Spanish speaker, immigrant, child of divorced parents, Californian, college graduate (Go Bears!), omnivore, writer, or any other label I choose for myself.

Keep Reading... Show less

When In Nashville

Here's some things you could do.

Kaitlyn Wells

I have had the opportunity to visit so many places in my lifetime, and recently one of those places was Nashville, Tennessee. There is so much to do and see in Nashville but here are some of my favorites that I would highly recommend.

Keep Reading... Show less
Your Work Week As Told By Michael Scott And Stanley Hudson

"The Office" is basically the best American TV show created in the past 15 years (you can fight me on this). And through all its hilarity and cringe-worthy "that would never happen in real life" moments, the show really does have a lot of relatable themes, as can be seen by the little compilation I put together of Michael Scott and Stanley Hudson.

Keep Reading... Show less
October Is Overrated, Let's Just Accept This Fact

I have never liked the month of October. I like the fall weather and the beginning of wearing sweaters in the crisp fall air, but I never associated this with the month of October.

Keep Reading... Show less

The Plight Of Being Bigger Than A D-Cup

"Big boobs are like puppies: they're fun to look at and play with, but once they're yours, you realize they're a lot of responsibility." - Katie Frankhart, Her Campus


This probably sounds like the most self-absorbed, egotistical, and frankly downright irritating white-girl problem... but there's more to this I promise.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments