Landing in America
In this series, I’ll be writing about my
experience, traveling to the US, and
my stay in graduate school.
This series is a continuation of the first
series I wrote titled “my journey to the America”.
If you haven’t read it, you should
In addition to providing information on
how to successfully apply to grad schools
and ace visa interviews, the good people of
Nairaland had also provided information
on the cheapest means of getting to the
US and the necessary items you needed
to take with you.
I took a few clothes I hadn’t given out,
and also took a lot of dry foods like
egusi, plantain chips, ogbono, dry pepper, etc.
The cheapest airlines they suggested
were Turkish air and Royal Air Maroc.
I booked a flight on Royal Air Maroc
via a travel agent and let just say
that whatever you do in this life, DO NOT
EVER FLY WITH ROYAL AIR MAROC –
It will end in tears.
My sister was going to New York (NY),
while I was going to College Park,
Maryland (MD) and because she was
a minor, I decided to fly to NY with her,
then take a bus to MD which is only
5 hours away by road.
The night I was to leave, I was a little
afraid but mostly excited.
I felt the same way I felt on my first
day in the boarding house when I
asked my dad to leave shortly after
dropping me off.
I can’t remember who dropped me off
at the airport now but I went to my
dad’s room to say goodbye and
with tears in his eyes (because favorite
child and look alike laugh), he prayed
for me and told me to ensure I ate
because I looked like “eran ori iresi”
(the meat on a plate of rice).
It might sound like a weird advice but
I weighed 50kg at the time and was
a size zero yet, I thought I was fat and
hardly used to eat.
A friend had advised I wrap every
food item in several newspapers and
put them under layers of clothing so
they weren’t discovered by immigration
But as I got to the airport and queued
to go through immigration, the smell
of my ogbono and crayfish hit my
nostrils strongly and I suspected
everyone around me could smell it too.
When I got to the immigration desk
and was asked to open my box for
them to search, I opened the one
that didn’t contain food and hoped
no one would ask me to open my
box of food.
Luckily for me, the officer that searched
me just said: “you are a student, ehn
find something for us”.
I told him I didn’t have anything and
he let me go.
I passed through security with no issues
and finally boarded the plane.
That was my first trip outside Nigeria and
if it wasn’t for NYSC posting to Adamawa
and a work assignment in Abuja, it
would also have been my first time
on a plane.
Thank God I didn’t disgrace my generation
on international waters.
The food was horrible but I ate every
single thing because my ticket money
must not waste.
I was too excited to sleep and stayed
awake throughout the flight.
We had a 3-4 hour layover at Casablanca
and when the boarding gate for our
flight was open, everyone on the flight
including me stood up to queue for
I observed a weird thing while queuing.
Although Morocco is an African country,
its people are fair-skinned like Arabs.
The woman checking passports and
boarding passes let all the non-African
people go after checking their documents.
But for the black people, after letting
them go, she would run after them and
ask them to go back as if she just found
out something shady in their documents.
I did not have accommodation yet so
I put my uncle’s house address in NY
as my destination.
Seeing the attendant ask black people
to come back made me fear that I
would be turned back because the
address I put down was different
from the city where my school is located.
Until I passed through security at New York,
this fear of being turned back never
Eventually, it was my turn and I gave my
documents to the attendant and
answered her questions.
She returned them to me and said I
could go. I had barely started walking
when she ran after me and asked me
to come back.
I was so upset but kept calm.
I can't remember the flimsy reason
she gave for flagging me but she
eventually let me through.
We arrived at NY in the night and I
took my boxes to the immigration
officer at the point of entry.
I didn’t declare my food items so I
was afraid they would get seized by
the immigration officers.
My whole body was shaking as I
struggled to stay still to get my
picture taken and give my fingerprints.
I answered the officer’s questions
and eventually he smiled and said
“you plan to get a 4.0 GPA eh”
Me too I smiled and said yes.
He welcomed me to America and
said I could go.
Come and see happiness.
I logged onto the airport wifi and
informed my uncle I had arrived
but he couldn’t pick me up and I
had to take a cab.
You people think Lagos cab drivers
are scammers - New York cab drivers
are the worst.
The cab driver charged me $45 for a
He convinced me that a fixed fare was
cheaper than a metered fare and
me too I fell for it.
I arrived at my uncle’s house, ate, slept
and woke up early the following
morning to catch my 7 am bus to
Maryland in Manhattan.
My aunt went with me to catch the bus.
Unfortunately, my box was damaged
on the plane and my cousin, May God
forever bless his heart, carried it on
his head from the train station to
the Bus station.
I arrived say 5 minutes before the bus
was to leave but they refused to let
me get on despite all my aunty’s pleas.
I waited for the next bus and when it
arrived, I was told I was entitled to
only one luggage.
My aunt took the second box back
and that meant I had to return to NY
whenever I settled to pick it up.
I did not mind going back though because
NY city was breathtaking!
It looked exactly how it was portrayed
in movies and I was eager to explore it.
We were told there was wifi on the bus
and my jaw nearly dropped.
That was my first taste of American
wonder. Kia! I logged on to whatsapp
and started chatting with all my friends
and family, and surfing the web.
It had been so long since I had access
to free and fast wifi that I got carried
We eventually got to my stop, 5 hours later,
and I got off the bus with my box.
I was quite disappointed with my
surroundings cuz I expected the whole
of America to look like New York but
my environment was just bleh.
In less than 5 minutes after I got off
the bus, I realized I left my laptop
on the bus.
I called the customer care number listed
at the bus station and was asked to
call back after they had spoken with
the bus driver.
I called back and they told me my laptop
was not on the bus and someone must
have taken it!
I got my first of many shocking findings
about America –
They also steal in the Almighty US of A!
To be continued…