Preparing for Life in the UK as a Nigerian Student

Posted 11 months ago

Everything you need to know from my experience

As a Nigerian student who recently moved to the UK, I quickly realised that my preparation was not optimal, particularly when it came to food, clothing, hair, and skincare essentials.

If you are preparing to move to the UK as a Nigerian student, there are certain items you may consider bringing with you to make yourself feel more at home. My name is Aminat and I am a ResLife Ambassador.

Food

I had brought common food items such as cereal, powdered milk, pasta, and tomato paste, only to find out that they were cheaper in the UK, especially when purchased from local producers like Sainsbury's. One notable difference I found was that the seasoning sold here, which we commonly referred to as “Maggi,” is different from what we have in Nigeria and does not suit my taste. The alternative is to buy a familiar brand from an African store, but they can be quite expensive. To address this, I recommend bringing your favourite Nigerian spices and seasonings, allowing you to add familiar flavours to your meals while you are away from home. Additionally, consider bringing specific packaged Nigerian food items or snacks that you enjoy, such as instant noodles, chin chin, or plantain chips. While these can be found in local international stores, they tend to be pricier.

Hair

For Nigerian females, dealing with hair can be a major challenge. There are few hair specialists who can handle Afro hair, and their services often come at exorbitant prices. To save money, you might want to learn how to self-braid, make cornrows, or crochet your hair. Some individuals even choose to lock their hair before coming to the UK, although this limits hairstyle options. However, I have found that many people opt for this approach to save money and time. Ultimately, you need to decide what works best for you. 

Skincare

One of the first things I noticed upon arriving here was how dry and ashy my skin became. This was a common experience among my friends from Ghana, Namibia, and Cameroon, suggesting that it may be related to our skin type. The dryness and ashiness were particularly prominent during winter, while summer was more favourable to black skin. To address this, I recommend bringing skincare products that work well for your skin type, especially those with additional sources of oil or butter. Sunscreen is also essential during summer, and you may choose to bring some from Nigeria or purchase it locally.

Clothing

As a Muslim student, I discovered that bringing many traditional attires from Nigeria was unnecessary and took up valuable luggage space. For Jumah prayers, I usually wear any dress or even jeans with a long coat. However, I have noticed that Nigerians who practice Christianity tend to wear their native attire to church almost every Sunday, finding it useful in that context.In general, you may want to consider bringing the following: a few sets of traditional Nigerian clothing, such as dashikis, agbada, or iro and buba outfits, to maintain a connection with your cultural identity, for special events or cultural gatherings. Pack weather-appropriate clothing suitable for the different seasons in the UK, ensuring you have warm clothes for colder months.

I have thoroughly enjoyed embracing new cultures and meeting people from all over the world. It has enriched my experience as a Nigerian student studying abroad.

Find out more about Aminat's work as a ResLife Ambassador and support the team offers