Lessons and insights into making a life in the UK: an interview with Nadine from Ivory Coast

Published by: Johann Taljaard

Published on: 26 Feb, 2019

Explore the journey Nadine undertook as she settled into a new life in the UK many years ago; she honestly shares the highs and lows and gives meaningful advice to newly arrived migrants. 

Hello Nadine, how are you today? I would like talk to you about how you felt when you arrived in the UK many years ago.

What surprised you when you first came here?

Language barrier was the first thing that shook me. Although, I spoke some English when I was in Ivory Coast,  I didn’t think I would have such difficulty understanding what people were saying. I found that the accent was so different and people spoke so fast so I had no clue about what they were saying. That was a major challenge for me and I wondered if I did the right thing leaving everything behind and coming over here. Being someone who never gives up, I took up that challenge and threw myself into English classes to improve my language skills.

Another thing was living expenses. I was shocked by the cost of most things from renting a place, to shopping and traveling. I found that most things were much more expensive than back home and I understood that this was in relation to higher wages. What made things easier for me was sharing a house with other people mostly from others countries. That way, not only we shared the cost of things around the house, but we also spent time together, helped each other to improve our English, and socialised. This stopped me from feeling lonely as there was always someone around to do things with or just even hang out with. I feel blessed to have met those wonderful people most of which I am still in touch with today.

What do you wish you had known?

I wish I had known that fluent English was essential to get a good job in the UK. This would have helped me to prepare better by taking additional English classes in Ivory Coast (which would have costed a lot less than in the UK). Also, I wish I had known about the price of things in the UK. That way I would have prepared accordingly. I didn’t think I would be sharing a house with total strangers, thankfully this ended up being a wonderful experience, but initially it was a major worry for me as I had never shared a place with people I didn’t know beforehand. In my case, it was a great experience that I enjoyed very much because these people felt like family to me and in them I found the care and affection that I used to get from my own family in Ivory Coast.

What advice would you give to anyone coming here?

I would tell them to try and improve their English, especially if they want to continue with further training or if they are highly skilled migrants because good jobs require a high level of English. This will save them some time and money once in the UK and they will start straight away with job hunting without the hardships caused by not speaking good English. 

They also need to research and learn about life in the UK including cost of life, that way they won’t be shocked like I was when I first came to the UK.  The more one is prepared and informed when moving abroad, the better it is when one gets to their destination.

How are you feeling about life in the UK after many years living here?

I find life absolutely fine now that I am happily settled here. Over the years, I did further studies and I have been working as a nurse for many years which is something I find very rewarding. I absolutely love my job and meeting people from all walks of life. Life has been satisfying and I have lots of friends that I sociallise with. During my holidays, I travel back to Ivory Coast or to other countries around the world where I spend my time doing various sporting activities or just relaxing.

Thanks, Nadine!

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