Collette Cummings, associate dean of students and director of Multicultural Center and International Student Affairs…
Nigerian graduate student experiences culture shock
Webster graduate student Samaila Dahoro did not know braces could be used to fix teeth. Where he came from, there was only good or bad teeth.
Dahoro said this is just one of a number of cultural differences between Nigeria, where he is from, and the United States.
Dahoro came to Webster to pursue his masters in healthcare administration. He decided to come to St. Louis because it is the only Webster campus that offered health care administration. He believes coming to the U.S. will help give him more opportunities.
“American education opens doors beyond someone’s imagination and expectations,” Dahoro said. “The education I would receive here is something that is accepted worldwide.”
In addition to education, Dahoro came to learn about different cultures. Dahoro was surprised to see what the U.S. considers normal.
Dahoro said the vast supplies in American grocery stores caught him by surprise. In Africa, there are a few brands of milk, butter and bread.
“In America, options for a single product barely fit in one aisle,” Dahoro said. “It was my first major experience of culture shock.”
The use of paper towels fascinated him as well. In Africa, paper towels are more selectively used for tasks like cleaning off grease from a frying pan.
“People in the U.S. use paper towels for everything and that’s not something I am used to,” Dahoro said.
Dahoro said the education system in Nigeria did not fulfill his needs, citing a lack of resources and up-to-date technology. He said students would not receive much attention from teachers because most classrooms hold up to 500 students with only one teacher.
“At the end of the day, students would go home with theories they didn’t even understand,” Dahoro said. “It’s quite unfortunate because many of the public schools, which are funded by the government, are the ones facing this problem.”
Dahoro said Webster helped him grow as an individual. After graduation, he would like to pursue a career in the U.S. or possibly go back to Nigeria for a political position.
“I would like to become a governor or senator,” Dahoro said. “I have a high chance because I would be coming from America and those people are highly placed and regarded.”
Developing good relationships is cherished deeply in Nigeria. Respecting everyone, especially parents, is essential.
“Your parents are basically gods,” Dahoro said. “If your parents say the sky is orange, then the sky is in fact orange.”
Abubakar Bello is also from Nigeria and has been friends with Dahoro for the past year.
“We all need to surround ourselves with good people and he’s that person I want to be surrounded by,” Bello said.
According to data from the UNESCO Institute of Statistics (UIS), the number of Nigerian students who study abroad have increased by 164 percent between 2005 and 2015. Nigeria is the number one country in Africa who sends students overseas to fulfill their educational experience.
“Americans are so privileged,” Dahoro said. “People in my country would kill for a passport and the opportunity to travel.”