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Japa Story: I'm in Canada for journalism, but I have to be a store supervisor first

Chinedu had practice freelance journalism before moving to Quebec for masters.

This image was generated using the AI model DALL·E

In Nigeria, he had practised enough of it in university and after he graduated, he was nominated for a prestigious award as a freelancer.

He wanted to do it full-time and learn how to do it better. So he searched online for the top Master in Journalism programmes in Canada and found one in Quebec. Today he lives there and has no intention of returning to Nigeria anytime soon.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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I wasn't like desperate to leave or anything. I was middle class and life was actually good most days. But I had to make a personal decision that will pay off in the long run. For me, it was education that broke the camel’s back. I wanted to learn journalism but in a better environment.

I already studied Mass Communication for my undergraduate programme in Nigeria which gave me the background I needed as a writer. But I knew if I wanted to do journalism in a way that I would be proud of, I needed to better my reporting skills. Studying journalism is just a continuation of what I started back home.

So I wouldn’t have travelled with another route if not the school route.

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The whole process from admission to visa approval took 12 months. Admission feedback and visa approval took the most time. I had to apply a year before and then wait for my admission and then start to apply for the visa.

And it was very expensive. Plus the naira decline didn’t help matters. I opted to study journalism at a school in Canada with a good programme and that cost more than it would have if I had done a postgraduate degree at a less prestigious school.

I spent way above ₦20 million for the whole process. The visa processing can be funny sometimes. I know many people that were denied. But in my case, I read about the process and it went well. I applied myself and didn’t go through any agent.

I had the money and decided to invest it in myself. I didn't do anything illegal.

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My experience in Canada seemed shocking. It’s just a normal country, but with a good government. Nothing too serious. It’s just as described. I got my accommodation settled before leaving Nigeria, so that made things better for me. I had people here and there in Canada also who helped me put things in place before I came.

My first week here was not funny. The weather wasn’t welcoming. I had to learn how to dress for the cold to tackle the winter season.

It took me a long time. Firstly, my focus was on getting myself settled in school before finding a job. Getting jobs as a student here can be funny. Employers don’t really want students because of part-time work hours. They want people without that commitment. But a lot of Nigerian students here work full-time jobs. If you apply and are patient enough you will find.

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Eventually, I was referred for a supervisor job at a store and I got it. It has been a huge learning experience for me because of the cultural differences.

I haven’t faced anything like racism. I’m in a school environment and trust me 90% are immigrants from around the globe. So, who wants to drag who? That aside, unlike some countries, Canada is home to all and her people are lovely and welcoming. They approach with genuine smiles and that settles it. For now, I have no such experience. And people who have been here longer than I have, say they have had similar experiences.

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Miss Nigeria? LOL! I miss my people in Nigeria, not the country. I have all my basic life necessities over here, without having to beg and cry for it. Also, I feel very safe living life.

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