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.
Types of ice cream

Who doesn't love ice cream? People from all over the world enjoy the frozen dessert, but different countries have their own twists on the classic treat.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

100 Reasons to Choose Happiness

Happy Moments to Brighten Your Day!

A man with a white beard and mustache wearing a hat

As any other person on this planet, it sometimes can be hard to find the good in things. However, as I have always tried my hardest to find happiness in any and every moment and just generally always try to find the best in every situation, I have realized that your own happiness is much more important than people often think. Finding the good in any situation can help you to find happiness in some of the simplest and unexpected places.

Keep Reading...Show less

Remember The True Meaning of Christmas

“Where are you Christmas? Why can’t I find you?”

A painting of the virgin Mary, the baby Jesus, and the wise men

It’s everyone’s favorite time of year. Christmastime is a celebration, but have we forgotten what we are supposed to be celebrating? There is a reason the holiday is called Christmas. Not presentmas. Not Santamas. Not Swiftmas. Christmas.

boy standing in front of man wearing santa claus costume Photo by __ drz __ on Unsplash

What many people forget is that there is no Christmas without Christ. Not only is this a time to spend with your family and loved ones, it is a time to reflect on the blessings we have gotten from Jesus. After all, it is His birthday.

Keep Reading...Show less
Golden retriever sat on the sand with ocean in the background
Photo by Justin Aikin on Unsplash

Anyone who knows me knows how much I adore my dog. I am constantly talking about my love for her. I attribute many of my dog's amazing qualities to her breed. She is a purebred Golden Retriever, and because of this I am a self-proclaimed expert on why these are the best pets a family could have. Here are 11 reasons why Goldens are the undisputed best dog breed in the world.

Keep Reading...Show less

Boyfriend's Christmas Wishlist: 23 Best Gift Ideas for Her

Here are the gifts I would like to ask my boyfriend for to make this season unforgettable.

Young woman opening a Christmas gift

Recently, an article on Total Sorority Move called 23 Things My Boyfriend Better Not Get Me For Christmas, was going around on social media. I hope the author of this was kidding or using digital sarcasm, but I am still repulsed and shocked by the lack of appreciation throughout this article. I would like to represent the girlfriends out there who disagree with her standpoint -- the girlfriends who would be more than happy to receive any of these gifts from their boyfriends.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments