Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Married to a Jobless Man


Growing up, it was common for girls to pray for rich men as their husbands; men from abroad, men working in oil companies, men who will 'take care of me'. If you were coming to date and you had a car, your chances were higher.

While there is nothing wrong with that, I wanted more - a man with good prospects, a hardworking man, a serious Christian, and of course a man that loved me. But I wasn't warned about the prospect of being the sole provider in the family for an extended period. During our premarital counselling, our counsellors had told us how for the first 6 months of their marriage, the man did not have a job. I thought I could cope with that. I didn't know it was going to be a case of one year for me.

My husband had a promising career as a Research Associate in a leading investment banking firm in Nigeria before coming to the UK for a postgraduate degree in Finance and Management. He wanted to go into a different aspect of Finance, at the same time longed for some foreign work experience. By the time he was through with his Masters programme and got married, he had 3 options – continuing with his work in Nigeria, accepting an offer for a desired role from a more reputable company in Nigeria, or staying back in the UK to find a job. After careful consideration, he chose to be with his newly wedded wife and continue trying to get a job rather than take up the good offer in Nigeria and be separate from his family.

I had a few challenges. Talk about having to answer the question of what your hubby does for a living. "Why not take up an unskilled job to just have something coming in every month and to have somewhere to go to in the mornings?", people would often ask; the awkwardness of bringing this up with him when I did, not wanting to sound like I thought he was lazy.

Well, he already had somewhere to go. He started volunteering with an organisation that prepares talented students from ethnic minority or low socioeconomic backgrounds for career success. He also joined a Charity, volunteering his skills to help vulnerable people in our community solve problems they faced. To him, taking up just any menial job would mean settling to fate, plus he would have less time to search for his preferred job.

He searched for jobs every day and night. Through multiple rejections, he kept on trusting. Observing him, I discovered job-seeking in itself is a full-time job. He was so occupied with it - searching for roles, studying the companies, learning new skills to be able to fit the role, writing cover letters, meeting current and former employees of the companies (many times in London), writing psychometric tests, doing video interviews and attending physical interviews. He always dressed professionally even when meeting potential colleagues for a chat over coffee. Well…some video interviews were attended wearing a shirt, tie and jacket on pyjamas.

Sometimes I felt guilty that I got my medical jobs on a platter, whereas he had to work so hard and wait so long for his first job in the UK. He was ready - from proper dressing, to time management, organisation, leadership, engaging in professional conversations and formal email correspondence, he's well rounded - he just needed an office.

Throughout this trying period, he maintained a good attitude. I saw patience, endurance, temperance and hardwork in display. I received strong support from him too. He drove me to work when necessary, woke me to study for my exam, sometimes made dinner when I was exhausted. He had no low self-esteem. He would draw up our budgets and manage the finances, accompany me to functions where my colleagues were, and was ever ready to answer the question "what do you do?"

Even in his jobless state, he slept less hours than I did. He was persistent. Though receiving uncountable rejection emails, he was never discouraged. He once received an offer bearing his full names, only to be told the following day that it was meant for a Kingsley, not Kingston. He would follow up the rejection emails with polite replies asking for feedback on his performance and stating that he was available for any other roles they deemed him suitable for. Finally, after the long wait, he commenced work with a FinTech start-up in London last November. All thanks to God.

In all these, I can say I am really blessed. Single girls, if you see a diligent man, marry him not for his money but for his character. If you see a lazy man with a lot of money, please run. For when the money disappears, you will become his crutch.


Radiant ~ December 2019
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this post. Please leave comments below. Happy new year. 

Sunday, 8 December 2019

Why I hated practising Medicine in Nigeria


I signed up to study Medicine and Surgery because it seemed like the most logical thing to do. I was a science student in secondary school and all my mates were either going to study Medicine or Engineering in university. The girls were more inclined to Medicine, so I joined the bandwagon. 

After trudging through an unexciting clinical journey in medical school, one that got me contemplating dropping out severally, I got my M.B.B.S. I survived housemanship in a teaching hospital, lazed away National Youth Service year in a primary care centre and became a job seeker for many months before landing in the private sector. 

I hated practising Medicine in Nigeria for the following reasons. I always didn't feel competent. I hated not knowing exactly what to do and not having reference points. As a medical practitioner everyone expected you to perform some magic; magic that you weren't trained for. As long as you are called doctor, they expected their ailment to end with you, not willing to be referred to a specialized institution. I didn't like the great expectation, the lack of support as a medical officer, often working alone, the fact that apart from the clinical pressure of functioning as a general practitioner without appropriate training, I had to deal with financial pressure as well. I had to decide/communicate the cost of treatments and factor that along with the size of the patient's pocket in making a clinical decision. 

In the places I practised, we had no universal guidelines. Lab results were unreliable. They often arrived late. Poverty of the people would not allow us perform necessary but expensive investigations. Deaths were hardly investigated. Housemanship made sure I had a fat pocket but I was more trained in running ward errands like chasing up investigation results than in the management of the sick - a total waste of doctor skill. Children suffered pain unnecessarily when we could have given numbing agents before bleeding them. Patients would endure multiple needle pricks to get several blood samples when only one prick most times would suffice with the appropriate equipment. Our medicine was crude; too crude to be human. I thought we were causing more pain than alleviating it. I couldn't bear practising like that for the rest of my life. It depressed me. I would rather spend my life making music, writing stories, bringing happiness, than watching the sick deteriorate and not offering much help, but worsening their debility. 

Now on the other hand, I've seen civilization in medicine here in the UK and this excites me. There is strong support. No one is left alone to tackle a case they are not trained for or fully confident about. As you work, you get trained on the job, while making a satisfactory living. Working hours are regulated also. You get enough breaks to recuperate from on-call hours. Theatre lists are not cancelled due to delay in laundry department providing scrubs. Skills are well maximized. Nurses administer IV drugs, so the junior doctors are freed to attend to higher skilled jobs. Hospitals are not shut down due to inter-professional feud or strikes. There are standard guidelines for every condition, for example the NICE guidelines or local hospital guidelines.  You are not expected to memorise the doses of all medicines. You are encouraged to check the BNF before prescribing. There are regular audits and quality improvement projects to keep us on track.

I could go on and on to compare the health system I witnessed in Nigeria to that of UK, but it is obvious Nigeria is centuries behind. Of course, it is not all rosy in the UK but this post focuses on Nigeria. Nigeria needs those that have seen the light, those that have tasted and imbibed best practice in a system that works to lead the way. So why should doctors in Nigeria not leave in search of light? The bone of contention should be why the ones that have the light are not coming back to guide the "blind". This is not different from other sectors. Sectors that have made progress have people there that have been trained in developed countries. Check the CVs of top performers in Finance or Business in Nigeria you will see that most of them have had foreign exposure. So doctors should not be criticised for going out to get proper training, rather we should be talking about how those that have been trained in these developed countries can give back to their country of origin.

Dear Lord, send labourers into Nigeria's health sector. We need to make advancements.

NB: This post by no means intends to belittle the work of faithful sound medical practitioners currently in Nigeria, making the best out of the harsh working environment and system. This is me telling my experience of how I turned from hating Medicine to loving it and a call for Nigerians in diaspora to think on how we can improve the Nigerian health system.

NICE - National Institute for Health and Care Excellence
BNF - British National Formulary

Radiant ~ December 2019

Saturday, 9 November 2019

To Help or Not: My Dilemma on a Headless Being

I saw a headless person walking today at the King’s Cross Train station.

Like Moses attracted to the burning bush, this piqued my interest. So I looked more intently at the strange sight. Apparently it was an old woman who was bent over so much I couldn’t see her head from the back. I wondered how she coped with life.

As I observed, I saw that she struggled to look up to the destination board. She kept going to the back hoping it would be easier to see. I knew she needed help, so I walked towards her. She tried to signal for help from 2 girls that passed her but they looked at her and went their way. She was saying, ‘no I’m not begging you for money’ when I approached. 

"Where are you going to?", I asked.

"Oh thank you very much", she said, "I’m going to Stoke. Can I use my freedom bus pass here?"

"No. It works on buses", I answered though not knowing really what freedom bus pass meant, "You may have to buy a train ticket".

"How much is it?"

"I don’t know. We’ll have to ask the authorities".

"How long is it by bus?"

So I brought out my phone to ask google. But first I typed, ‘can I use my freedom bus pass on trains?’ and I was surprised to learn you could use it on buses, trams, trains and underground. It is a free travel pass for the disabled and elderly. 

I quickly chipped in, "you can actually use your pass on trains". 

"But I will rather take a bus for sight seeing". 

So I checked distance between King’s cross and Stoke-on-Trent (I assumed that was what she meant by Stoke) by bus. I also checked the distance by train. 


"It is 5hrs by bus and you have to change several buses. It is easier to go by train but you have to go from Euston station".

"5hrs?". She was surprised.
"I’ve gone there by night bus and it was 2 hrs. I’m going to see my grand daughter. She works in a hospital there. Please take me to the bus stop".

"Which one?"

"The one near McDonalds. I’ll take a bus to Whitechapel and from there I can get a bus to Stoke".

My train was about 12 mins away. I calculated leaving the station to guide her to a bus station and getting back on time to meet my train. 

"Ok. Give me that". I took her hand luggage and walked in front of her while she followed. Shortly after, I looked back and saw her almost going to hit the wall headlong. 

"No!" I shouted. "This way."

I needed to stay closer to her so she could see me to follow. 

I worried how she was going to take several buses to Stoke on Trent on her own. When we got close to the bus stop she asked me to give her her luggage. 

"Are you sure you know your way from here?"

"Yes, I will take bus 205". 

I couldn’t see 205 written anywhere on the stop. But I was running against time to catch my train. So I gave her her hand luggage and said good luck. 

On my way back I prayed to God to please help her. 

When I got into my train I worried if I shouldn’t have done more for her. She clearly was going to struggle. How would she cross the road? How would she get to Stoke on Trent on her own? She didn’t even have a map with her. I wonder if anyone would even help a black old hunched up woman. They might think she was a beggar. Did I just miss an opportunity to attend to angels as the Bible says?

Should I get off the train which was to leave in 1 min to go find her and make sure she gets on the Euston train going directly to Stoke on Trent? I will have to forfeit the appointment I’m running to meet in King’s Lynn. I might have to buy another train ticket. Will I find her there? Am I even sure it is Stoke on Trent she meant? Is there another place called Stoke? I googled to check and couldn’t find.

While pondering these, the train began to move. Opportunity lost.

I could only pray God sends her help.



Radiant ~ November 2019
Photo credit - IG @bencantini

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Spinach sauce

Ingredients




Ingredients

Spinach - 4 Tesco packs
Carrot - 2 medium-sized
Mixed bell peppers - red, yellow, green 
Scotch bonnet pepper - 2 or 3
Shrimps - 1 pack
Crayfish - 2 table spoons
Onions - 3 medium sized
Vegetable oil - 1 cup
Garlic - 3 cloves
Thyme
Knorr cubes
Knorr Aromat all purpose seasoning
Salt

Cut and wash your spinach and set aside in a drain to drain water. Spinach brings out a lot of water, so you might even want to perboil it and drain the water first.

1. Put some vegetable oil in the pan. 
2. Add a little salt.
3. Fry onions, scotch bonnet pepper, garlic cloves.
4. Add chopped carrots and fry till moderately tender.
5. Add raw shrimps and fry till pink.
6. Add diced mixed bell peppers.
7. Add spices - thyme/rosemary leaf, knorr cubes, all purpose seasoning, salt to taste.
8. Add spinach in stages and stir. It tends to shrink so don’t worry about the size of your pan/pot.
9. Taste for salt and adjust.
10. Sprinkle ground crayfish (optional).

Meal is ready. The above quantities can serve 7 adults.

Serve with boiled rice, yam or potatoes.



Radiant ~ November 2019
Do you like this recipe, I’d love to hear from you. Please leave comments below.



Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Boots On The School Ground


We woke up to terrifying gunshots. I made a beeline for the floor as my mum had once told me, "when there is a shooting, lie flat on the ground". My heart was racing. I could hear it beat. We weren't sure how close they were. What the hell is happening? The shelling went on for ages. Fear and dread were palpable. We quietly climbed back to our beds after some hours of silence and slept half awake till dawn. Everyone hurried out of dorm in the morning to find out what had happened. 

Armed robbers had visited the staff quarters. A teacher was shot in the eye. The military had exchanged fire with them, hence the numerous shots we heard over our heads. We were relieved but sad about our teacher. He had been taken to the hospital and we prayed desperately for him. What if the robbers had entered the dormitory? It wouldn't be the first time strangers appeared in our yard. Usually, it would be peepers who preferred real pornographic scenes to fiction. 

That would not be the last time we had boots on the school ground. Well, the next time it was not to defend us. We were being chased out of school with our half packed bags at mid day. The SS3 boys had led a riot the night before to Princi's house over their colleague who was suspended "unjustly". On their way back, probably having not gotten the audience they had hoped for, some decided to make a visual statement by vandalizing the offices in the administration block. That was not the original plan. 

The following day, we girls woke up as usual, went to school that morning and quickly found out this was not an ordinary day. First strange thing was that the dining hall was full of girls. Where were all the boys? Apparently, the riot was the beginning of the protest. The SS3 boys had called a lockdown. No male was allowed to leave the hostel. Somehow they still managed to smuggle food into their dorms. We went to our classes and saw the aftermath of the previous night's rampage. Even teachers did not have balls to come to class. One of my class girls decided to be heroic. She wrote on our board, "We are in solidarity with the boys". Little did we know that that simple act of recklessness would list us among the ringleaders of the riot with consequences.

At 12 o'clock an emergency school assembly was called. All students were expected to report to the multi-purpose hall. It was brief. SS3 students including me were handed out suspension letters bearing our names and given thirty minutes to leave the school premises indefinitely. We thought we were still dreaming until we saw military trucks (or so I thought. I later heard they were the mobile Police) in school. Wow! This Princi meant business. Panic mode activated. People were running helter-skelter. We packed the few things we could. Those with illegal phones started making calls. A few of us contacted our school guardian who helped us inform our parents and took us to the car park where five of us got into a bus going East. We split ourselves in two when we got to Enugu and slept in our friends' houses as it was already 10pm. I got home in Onitsha the following day.

We were suspended for two weeks and the school authority demanded a parent to accompany the child on return and for us to sign a memorandum of understanding. I was among the ringleaders given extra two weeks, just for being present in a class of girls deemed in solidarity with the boys' actions. I heard some blokes did not go home and that on the return day, they hired some local men who pretended to be their dads. 

For more of my high school posts, click here. Were you ever suspended, caught in the middle of a riot or wrongfully punished in secondary school? What were the circumstances? Please share your comments below.


Radiant ~ July 2019


Glossary:
Princi - Principal
SS3 - Senior secondary level 3

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Mandela Day 2019


Different words come to mind when you hear the name Nelson Mandela - Hero, Icon, Courage, Leader, Sacrifice, Freedom, Prison, President, South Africa and many more.
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Around the world, monuments, stadiums, bridges, roads, parks and gardens, restaurants and streets have been built or named after him. At least 8 movies that depict his story have been filmed. My best scene is always when he came out of prison holding his wife, Winnie, on the left, his right fist pumped in the air, with numerous freedom believers following behind. If you've not seen any, I'll recommend Winne Mandela or Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom.

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There are many positive lessons from the life of Madiba, as he is also called. He had his regrets as well. However, his life has been nothing short of inspirational and this is reflected in his words too. Here are my top 10+1 Nelson Mandela quotes:
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1. "There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."
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2. "We must use time wisely and forever realise that the time is always ripe to do right."
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3. "I never lose. I either learn or win."
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4. "As we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give others the permission to do the same."
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5. "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
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6. "Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again."
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7. "No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."
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8. "May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears."
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9. "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frighten us."
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10. "Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings."
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11. "It always seems impossible until it's done."
Which is your favourite?
Picture: Mandela's statue@Parliament Square, London.

Thursday, 27 June 2019

How To Make Nigerian Egusi Soup (Fried method)



Hi guys. So this is the most common soup among Nigerian soups, eaten by most tribes in Nigeria. There are several ways to cook Egusi soup. Here is my most favourite method.

Ingredients
2 cups of ground Egusi
Meat
1/2 cup Palm oil
2 table spoons ground crayfish
2 Red bell peppers (optional, but makes a huge difference)
3 or 4 Red scotch bonnet peppers
Meat seasoning (mixed spice, garlic, ginger, etc)
Salt
Spinach or other leafy vegetable
1 ball of Onions

10 Steps to make Nigerian Egusi Soup

1. Boil your meat with your favourite meat seasoning and set aside. Mine would include Knorr seasoning cubes, garlic, ginger, ground mixed spice and salt. I used 500g of boneless beef in this recipe. You can use more or different types of meat like tripe and cow skin.

2. Add some palm oil to a dry non-stick pot. Allow to heat up slightly, then add some chopped onions. I like to season my onions. So I add some ginger, garlic and salt and stir. I also like to add crushed chilli.



3. Add your chopped peppers (red bell and scotch bonnet) and fry.



4. Add ground Egusi and fry lightly on medium-low heat for 5mins. Use a non-stick pot for this.

5. Pour in your meat stock and some water. Add extra seasoning if necessary. I add a little bit of pepper soup spice.



6. Add some ground crayfish (optional)

7. Cover and allow to simmer on low heat for 20 to 30 mins.

8. Add your meat and boil for another 5 mins.

9. Add salt to taste.

10. Add your chopped spinach and stir. Cook for one or two minutes and the food is done.



You can serve Egusi with molded Gari, Semolina or Wheat meal.


This is my measuring cup by the way.


Please leave a comment below telling me how you make yours.

Radiant ~ June 2019





Wednesday, 29 May 2019

How To Stop Craving Your Man's Attention


Hey girl! Do you feel like you miss your man too much? You think you give him a lot of attention but it is not reciprocated. You want to spend more time with him but he is too busy at his work. You have no doubt that he really loves you, but you wish he could be more expressive and spend more time with you. This may be more evident during the early stages of your relationship. 

You may ask. Is it bad to crave my partner's attention? According to Collins dictionary, to crave is to desire intensely, to need greatly or urgently, or to beg or plead for. Sounds to me like wanting something badly. So yes. It can be unhealthy especially when you are not getting it. It can leave you frustrated and could take a toll on your self esteem. 

So here are some tips on how to stop craving his attention.

How to stop craving his attention

1. Fill up your time
To be honest with you, boredom may be the reason you miss him too much. You may not have much to do so you expect him to help you spend your free time. After ruling out sheer lack of respect for you as a reason for his inattention, try becoming more occupied. Get a job, learn a new skill, go to school, find a new hobby, read a book, hit the gym, just find something to occupy your mind. Not only will it help you displace the constant intrusive thoughts of him, but this will help you gain back your self esteem in case you've lost it and may even get his attention as you are more attractive when you have a value to add.

2. Give him some space
People become more edgy when they are on each other's faces. An old adage says distance makes the heart fonder and this is sometimes true. Consider if you are all over him and he just wants some breathing space. Maybe he wants to hang out with his friends, concentrate at work to meet his targets, or he is in a tough place which you haven't noticed because you've been too focused on yourself. Psychologists say men aren't very good at talking about their problems. They prefer to brood through solutions in a private space. You may need to give him that space.

3. Spend time with other friends
Visit your friends, group travel, go to the cinema, go shopping with friends. Your life does not have to revolve around him. However, don't do this as a payback or to try to retaliate because you will feel worse if he does not as much as notice your effort. The purpose of this is to help you find happiness apart from him. It is easy to ignore friends once you are in an exclusive relationship, but friends have an important place in our lives. 

4. Go on a spiritual retreat
Sometimes the void you feel is a symptom of spiritual hunger. Check your relationship with God. You may need to go on a spiritual retreat. 

The cure for excessively craving your man's attention may not always be spending more time with him. Trying to get him to spend more time with you may even hurt you more because he may not understand what you're stressing about. To him, he is giving you just enough attention. If you find yourself in that situation, then try some of the above tips and see your man running back to you.

Are you in a relationship? How do you cope with your partner's apparent negligence? Let's talk in the comment section.

Radiant ~ May 2019

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Nigerian Doctor: 8 things you should know before coming to practise inthe UK


In my previous post, we talked about certain benefits a Nigerian Doctor could gain from coming to practise in the UK. As doctors continue to leave Nigeria in droves, it is important they get some information lest while building castles in the air, they're shocked by the reality of life in the UK. Dear Nigerian doctor and any intending migrant, here are some facts you must know before coming to the UK.

1.    The salary advertised, though quite attractive is your gross salary. Meaning, it includes your portion and the Government's portion. There will be tax, national insurance and pension deductions before you get your net pay. Also, NHS usually advertises a range. You are more likely to be started on the lowest scale except you have proof of extra relevant qualification and/or experience which you must bargain for.

2.    You cannot run away from tax. The higher you earn, the more income tax you pay. Apart from tax on your income, you also pay tax when you buy a car, buy or rent a house. Don’t worry, you will see what your tax is being used for e.g National Health Service, unemployment benefits, disability benefits, housing benefits, mental health services, drug and alcohol services, etc... just that you may not jump for joy. Take it that you are contributing to a better society.

3.    Nothing is free. You don't enjoy 24-hour power supply at no cost. You pay for electricity, gas, WiFi, phone, TV, water, parking, etc. When you are invited to hang out with your friends, please go with your wallet. This is not Nigeria where the host buys all the drinks. Here you take care of yourself. 

4.    It is a serious offence to drive without a driver's licence or beyond the specified speed limit even if you're the Lewis Hamilton of Nigeria. You will need to unlearn some of your driving habits (e.g the unnecessary use of car horn) and take on new ones to be considered fit for the road. You could drive with an international driving licence but it has a one year validity. In the end, you still have to go through a driving school, get used to the road rules and right-hand drive and pass your driving tests.

5.   Car insurance is compulsory. You must have at least a third party cover. Your car insurance quote could be costlier than the price of your car. You cannot drive someone's car unless you are listed as an additional driver in their insurance policy. Similarly, if someone else were to drive your car, they must be covered by your insurance.

6.    You thought Nigeria’s weather was too hot? Wait till you detest the opposite so much you start longing for home. It is here you understand what it means to say that the basic needs of man are food, shelter and clothing. I never understood how clothing made the list until I came to the UK.

7.    Be prepared for a culture shock. You don’t address a man and a woman automatically as man and wife, it’s them and their partner as it is very common for couples to dwell together unmarried. Do not be surprised to see two adults kissing in public. There may be lifestyles that are in conflict with your beliefs - the kind you didn’t have to deal with back home. 

8.    Complaints and litigation are more common here than in Nigeria. Make sure you have a professional indemnity cover wherever you practise. Protect yourself. Use chaperones for private examinations. Document properly. You will be taught all about empathy and interpersonal skills during your PLAB 2 course. Learn it and stick with it. 


Here are some myths to debunk from your brain:

WiFi is not free. It is just widely accessible. Having access to WiFi might not make you smarter. You are more likely to spend it on Netflix. Having 24-hr power might not make you more productive. After the first day, you get used to it.


So while you might be making plans to leave your country, think about what you are going to encounter at the other end of the river.

Are you in the UK, please share in the comment section, your greatest shock or what you wish you had known before coming.



Radiant ~ April 2019