I have lived in the UK now for 7+ months. It has certainly been a mixed bag of sorts; there have been joys and challenges. Joys for the most part for which I am thankful. I have met some wonderful people from all over the world and have settled into academia as much as possible. It has been busy as is evident from the irregular blogging. The weather has also gone through several phases; to me coming from 45 degrees Abuja, it is certainly cold which brings me to the question; why has my landlord refused to turn on the heating? Surely this is the right time for the radiators to do the work for which they were built?
While studying here, I have found the right stores to buy everything I need from food to clothes to books. If there is one thing I can tell you about the UK, it is that the money goes very very quickly! There are people who live very well obviously; the bankers and folks who work in the city, doctors and such healthcare professionals, the aristocrats, the top 2% or so who own businesses and live off trust funds which will never run dry (it seems), footballers, celebrities and others who have 100 different gigs to pull in money from different sources. The rest (and that is really the majority) live from pay check to pay check. The incomes are certainly better than many other EU countries from my research, but incomes in certain places like the USA and Germany are much better. This is solely from speaking to people in the same income brackets, same qualifications and relatively same experience who live or have lived in the mentioned countries. The taxes are shockingly high, but the good thing is that it provides a system that looks after its own (well as much as it can, it is certainly not perfect).
People with learning disabilities, special needs, mental health problems, old people living with dementia are all looked after. There are those who do not work and rely on welfare and council housing. The state pays for a lot of welfare for the aforementioned groups. The NHS which is the health system (a bit like the new Obamacare) has been around for a long time but certainly has it’s shortcomings. The waiting time for an ear infection or to see a consultant can be as long as six months. It is free for all citizens and people who make some sort of formal and legal contribution to the state; including international students who have paid full fees for the duration of their study, and other EU countries with whom the UK has a reciprocal arrangement. There are ongoing debates about the efficacy of the NHS and what kinds of reforms it may require. In spite of its shortcomings, you have to admire a system that seeks to look after its own.
In these 7+ months, I have also travelled a lot within the UK and within the EU. I think that travel is the best gift anyone can give to themselves. Nothing beats taking time to visit other countries and experience the cultures of other people. It opens one’s eyes to how the rest of the world lives, and the beauty and openness of the human race. I had tea in a tiny village near Reading, I tried some chocolate goodness in a small independent cafe near Baldock, I saw the amazing Christ Church at the University of Oxford where Harry Potter was filmed, I went to the Hindu festival of lights (Diwali) at Trafalgar square in London. I also went to Pairs, Toulouse, Carcassone, Athens and Rome with my sister. I saw the incredible works of Leonardo Da Vinci in the Louvre in Paris and visited Mona Lisa. I saw the genius of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel in Rome and attended mass said by Pope Francis at St Peter’s Basilica. I saw the Temple of Athena in the Acropolis in Athens and climbed Mount Lycabettus. It’s been an incredible couple of months and I am so thankful for this experience.
Most importantly, I have begun to dialogue with several INGOs who I may be interested in working for on the African continent, in South East Asia or indeed in the middle east after my graduation next year. It is all work in progress and I have put my intentions and plans to God and his universe believing that it all comes to fruition. My aunt is alive and well, many thanks to all of you who have emailed to ask about her and her dating advice, I reckon she needs to write a blog at this rate. I shall do another post on how to find a husband. Everytime I speak to her, she wants to know “how far”, and I shall blog about it in the coming days I think as I have been on a couple of her recommended “Igbo men dates”. In the interim, thanks to everyone who stayed subscribed. I shall do my best to update you regularly.