Before settling for school in Louisiana, I wanted to school in the U.K, but all the schools I applied to rejected me. So I turned my focus to the U.S and Canada and got admitted to two schools each in both countries. My dad then advised me to go with Lafayette, because it was a small town, and he wanted me to concentrate on school. The day after I arrived in Lafayette, I met some more Nigerians. People that I have now been friends with for about 13 years.
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They showed me around town, helped me shop for the things I needed in school and just made me feel comfortable. As a result, I did not miss my family as much; I was doing well. This was the first time I was going to be on my own; far away from mommy, daddy, and my brother. I Turned 18, one month after I moved to Louisiana, and already loved my newfound independence. I was now able to go to clubs with my friends, keep late nights, and just do whatever I wanted to do; without anyone giving me grief. Life was good.
My first semester as a freshman in Chemical Engineering wasn’t bad at all, I did well in all my classes, and thought to myself—maybe daddy wasn’t wrong after all, I think I have this engineering thing on lockdown. I also had help with my school work; help from a boy who I fast became friends with and eventually started dating. He was really good to me and was always there when I needed him. But as an 18-year old, I wasn’t ready for that type of commitment; it was intense.
He wanted to meet my mom when she came visiting one time, and I did not agree for that to happen. I mean I was still a teenager and was not even sure I was supposed to be dating. Plus I always wanted to explore life, and all it had to offer me. He was already planning a future together for us, but my eyes were on someone else. So we ended up dating for roughly two years and then called it quits.
I was living in the dorms, for about two months, when one of my friends, who was already done with her degree, offered me her apartment to stay in, as she was moving out of Lafayette. The apartment was so affordable ($250 per month), and I jumped in on the offer. She had a roommate, that meant I was going to now share the apartment with her roomie.
My apartment then became the hot spot for everyone to hang out in. We had Nigerian movie nights from time to time, frequent get-to-togethers and countless sleepovers, because remember I could not be in a room by myself, that fear I battled as a child still lingered within me. I guess all of that frustrated my roommate, and we did not click at all. We were always having issues; she barely said hello to the people who came to visit me, if I had dirty dishes in the sink, she would wash the ones she used and left the rest for me.
On her good days we talked a little bit, and on the days she was not in the mood, we acted like strangers. It was nothing I had ever experienced before. The living situation was no longer conducive for me, which was when I decided that I was never going to live with people who weren’t family. But I had to endure until my brother moved to the U.S, then we got our place.
My Battle with Chemical Engineering
My chemical engineering class was quite small; we were only about 15 people in my class. Caucasians, Haitians, Brazilians, and I was the only Nigerian. We took general courses with students from other disciplines, but when it came to the core courses, it was just the 15 of us. I don’t think that there was any course which ever made me cry like some of the classes I encountered in CHEE. It was tough! With me continually thinking—who send me? Na by force to become engineer? Daddy it’s your fault!
My father is a brilliant man and had a thriving career as an engineer for many years. He wanted that for me, but that was not the path I imagined for myself, and honestly I had no idea what I wanted to study at University. I know at some point I wanted to be a doctor, but I really don’t know what happened to that dream; not that it would have been easier than chemical engineering anyway. I remember my professor telling me one day, that I could still pursue medicine after engineering, and I was like no, thank you!
In all of my trials, I did not have the liver to open up to my parents to let them know I was struggling; I couldn’t even think of switching my major. I mean, what would I have told them? That I wanted to be a writer? My HOD also shot down that dream—"writers don’t make as much money as engineers." Maybe he hasn’t heard of J.K Rowling. I had no other choice than to battle it out, I knew I only had four years to spend in college, so there was no way I was going to mess things up. There were times I wanted to give up, but my head of department encouraged me to keep going, so I kept at it.
Faith ,Freedom, and Fear
There was a point in my life as a teenager where I became very strong in my walk with God. I read my bible every day and prayed. We didn’t have a home church in Ulsan, so every Sunday; we came together as a family to study God’s word. I loved spending time with God and became quite knowledgeable with the things of the bible. I lived my life for God and wanted to remain that way.
But when I found freedom; I had no curfew, I could keep late nights, and my parents were thousands of miles away, God quickly faded into the background. Going to church on Sundays even became a chore to me. I only went because I did not want to lie to my mother whenever she called asking if I went to church on a particular Sunday. If I hadn’t gone at the time she called, I made sure I accompanied my friend, Eileen, to evening mass on Sundays, even if I was not a catholic.
I remember speaking to my father once a week, but I called my mom every day. I did not want anything to happen to her, so I kept on calling each day just to make sure she woke up that morning. The fear of death I had was so strong that it became a stronghold in my life. Even when she was coming to visit, I would not rest until her flight landed safely. Although I was a Christian, I did not know my identity in Christ.
I loved my mother so much, I mean, why wouldn’t I? Whenever I would blow my money, daddy sent me; I will call her crying that I was broke. She will first reprimand me for being so bad with money—“what am I supposed to do now, if your father hears this, he will be upset.” But that was not without her giving me some assurance, I mean I was her daughter—“don’t worry, I will save up some money, and when it gets to $1000, I will send it to your aunt, to send to you.” She never wanted me or my brother to go without. She wasn’t making nearly as half as my father did at work, so I know it was a complete sacrifice for her to do the things she did for us after my dad had done his part. Whenever she came visiting, she took care of us very well.
She cooked our meals, took us shopping and just enjoyed our company. My friends loved her as well because there was a constant supply of food at my house. One day my brother and I had a big fight in front of her, and she did not know whose side to take; we were both her kids, and it broke her heart to see us that way. Me and my brother are criers, so when we get upset, we start crying. She later revealed to her sister that when she saw both of us in tears, she wanted to join us, but she had to be strong and diffuse the situation.
The Urge to go Home
2009, came soon enough, I had been living in Lafayette for three years, and was enjoying life while trying to navigate through engineering. My parents usually came to visit every year; but in 2009, I felt the strong urge to go home. So I told my brother that instead of mommy and daddy coming this year, let us go home instead, after all it is the same amount of money we were going to spend on tickets. We went ahead to speak to our parents, and they agreed. I had not gone back to Nigeria since I moved away in 2005; I was excited to not just see my parents but to see other family members and possibly friends as well.
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About The Author: Evi Idoghor is a Christian, writer, and content creator on Letstalknationblog.com. She is a chemical engineering graduate from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Consumed by her love for writing and desire to effect change, she launched her online platform––Let’s Talk Nation––to tap into her creativity and start meaningful conversations that would make a difference around the world.
Most of her writing has been influenced by her time spent in America, where she lived for about 11 years. Also, she lived in Nigeria and South Korea and currently loves traveling the world while learning about other fascinating cultures. You can find her on all social media platforms with @eviidoghor.