Selling my skills to the highest bidder…AKA job hunting

When you’re £2000 deep into your overdraft, there’s no job too little and no task too small to undertake if it means reducing it. I have many excues for my overdraft being that deep, most of them useless.

Me trying to explain to my dad why I’m so poor and his reaction

Which is why I’ve recently become pro active in the job application front. I spent the whole of yesterday evening dusting off and febreezing the bullshit off my CV and I wrote a professional cover letter——- for the first time. The job was for a part time dishwasher in downtown Saskatoon. Yeah, these kinds of jobs exist in Canada. I sent off my CV and cover letter at 11pm on tuesday night and got a call for an interview almost exactly 12 hours later. The informal job market is really healthy over here, plus my standards have dropped significantly. Failing getting a job, my only other option might be to marry an arab Sheikh or sell a kidney.

Absolute last resort

I also applied for a Scotia Bank Scholarship. The question was: Who or what has helped you make your student life easier, and how

My answer was:

“Going into my third year of university, I’ve developed a routine for settling down at the end of each holiday period. I’ve added some rituals, discarded some and modified some over these past three years. The one ritual that has remained the same, regardless of whether I’m starting a new year, moving into a new room or even going off on a gap year adventure is my collection of ageing pictures and train ticket stubs which I put up in my room unfailingly. These have become my family away from home. Whenever I’m feeling homesick, I merely have to glance at a random picture on my wall to be transported to that period in time, the joy comes back to reassure me. When I study my collection of ticket stubs, the journey comes alive again, vivid as the day I collected the ticket from the forlorn station machines in England.”

I’m getting very good at flowery language it seems!

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There, not back yet; Part 1

So I did it, I packed my bags, including my trusty sound system, train ticket stubs and 300 odd pictures and embarked on a 4,500 mile flight to Canada for an adventure. It’s the beginning of a year long adventure, a long time in the making.

For those of you that don’t know the deets, I’ll tell the story from the beginning.

I began this journey earlier this year when I got  my letter of acceptance from the University of Saskatchewan for an exchange year.

Ire receiving her letter of acceptance

This was just the beginning though and of course there were terms and conditions I had to meet before I could say that I was going as a definite. This included passing my modules in one go (easy you say) and the main stumbling block was the 11 exams that were scheduled within 3 weeks by my lecturers (I’m eternally grateful for the opportunity they gave me to overcome the need for sleep).

The embodiment of 11 exams I had to conquer

Anyway I got through that fight relatively unscathed, a few cuts and bruises acquired but the important thing was that I survived. My ordeal was not over though and I now had to wait for the results to come out. This translated to one whole month on tenterhooks. I refused to apply for my visa or buy my plane ticket, in case my results came back and it turned out I was a colossal olodo.

I might have done this in my genetics paper

Eventually when the results came out and I found out that I had indeed passed all my modules in one try, I predictably leapt for joy. It was a huuuuggggeee relief and I went about congratulating myself for a job well done (I should congratulate wikipedia more tbh)

DJ Khaled was talking to me in my dreams

Now came the slightly problematic issue of visa application to the Canadian Immigration Services (CIC). Even though I’ve been in the UK for 10 years, I’m still in possession of a Nigerian passport. I saw no need to apply for citizenship before this year so I kept the status quo (besides that fee for citizenship is a pisstake, I’m not a bag of money Theresa May -_-). I’m a fearless goat though and I confidently applied for a student visa to the CIC with my green passport and waited….and waited….and waited.

Waiting for that email from the CIC services

Eventually, they got back to me, asked for details of my life, my parents’ lives, my pets’ lives. Everyone’s lives who was connected to me. Where my other exchange friends got an email within a week with their visa instruction, I got an email after almost a month asking for me to come give my biometrics at their London office.

Whilst this was happening on the visa side of things, I was being hung, drawn and quartered by my exchange university fees wise. First they misclassified me as an international student with international student fees (Jesu), then they asked me to provide $1500 out of thin air for  accommodation deposit. In July.

I had to explain to them that Student finance doesn’t drop in July in England…I did a fair bit of pleading too to convince them to extend my deadline.

Lost my dignity

Thankfully, they agreed to extend my deadline.

“Because I’m happy!!”

Achievement unlocked #AdultEmailCompetency.

My next shock came when I looked at flight tickets with a direct flight from England to Canada ( I couldn’t transit in America which would have been cheaper due to a lack of a British passport)

£879 for a ticket?

The cost of the flight ticket coupled with an insurance bill of £780+ through the University ensured an August where I was desperately begging for money from whoever would listen

Self-explanatory

God delivered me from the throes of disappointment though and provided through a gift from close family friends and another very special individual in my life. I won’t mention names however as I’ve not gotten their permission to expose them on here <3. these special people were my father christmas and it was like all my prayers had been answered. I also got some very good news from one of them that week too. It’s safe to say that I was floating on cloud 9 that week!

Multiple santas rescued my year abroad

Next on the list, after buying the plane ticket and settling for cheaper insurance elsewhere, I then turned my focus to making new friends before arriving at my destination.

Unfortunately for me, there wasn’t a freshers’ page for the university. This is something I’m sure a lot of us take for granted in the UK as part of the freshers’ experience. I tried the official facebook pages for the university and joined many groups affiliated with the university but I still couldn’t find a page dedicated to actually making friends before arrival.

I solved that dilemma creatively however; I bought a tinder subscription and my thumb got busy in Saskatoon. I soon developed a nervous twitch of my thumb favouring the left side.

So many fishing pictures and tons of profiles lacking in the very crucial ingredient; BANTER!

After what felt like forever and almost close to giving up, I swiped right on this guy who was also in the same boat as me. His profile said “exchange student from Sweden”, my heart said bae.

He messaged me first to ask about my year abroad plans and we soon struck up a good online friendship. Like we had been mates for years, And I was crossing all fingers and toes that he wouldn’t turn out to be some awkward stranger in real life.

This initial decision of mine to find a kindred spirit online saved my hide when I finally got to my designated town. But more on that later!

Where was I?

So I made a friend online before arrival and I booked a hotel as well (cancelled the sucker though and paid for an AirBnb which was less than half the price of the hotel).

The 27th of August came creeping slowly on me and family members though and the day before the 27th, I spent the last £20 in my account on new fish in preparation for the long absence from home. The next day I set off with both my parents to London Heathrow Terminal 5.

As excited as I was to be going on a year abroad, as excited as I was to leave England for a whole year;

I still had to say a very tearful goodbye to some very special individuals in my life, from my biological parents and brothers and sister to my adopted mother and close friends. That, for me was the toughest part of leaving. I stemmed the tears and tried to be brave about it all, but inside I wanted to hug my family and friends one last time before leaving Torbay. But circumstances and time constraints meant I had to say a hasty goodbye and take a couple of pictures. It still has not hit me yet that I am a whole ocean and half a continent away from any biological family member.

When we got to the airport I could see the sadness in my parents’ eyes. Their little girl is growing up after all. They bought me a final meal of Fish and Chips at the terminal before waving me off to begin my adventure. a few pictures were taken at the airport however (a lot actually) and I felt like a child being waved at as she attended her first day of school. Scared, alone, excited and with a healthy amount of student loan in my account.

Daddy’s little girl

Natural Hair Care

A lot of people think that properly caring for natural afro hair is a lot of work and too expensive. As a student whose main achievements at university have been to waste money like water on food and procrastinate on all pieces of coursework. I’m living proof that caring for afro hair can be cheap, fun and within everyone’s expertise. Cheap here means costing you less than your next weave or braids. And I’m going to give a few pointers and tips in this article

A good starting point is knowing what works and what doesn’t for your hair. As I’m the proud owner of tightly coiled locks, this piece will be talking mainly about that kind of hair, however those of you fortunate/unfortunate enough to have looser coils can still follow this but maybe reduce the amounts of products used. I don’t follow the hair typing rule in caring for my hair, this was a major source of pain when I first started, was I a 4A or 5C or 3DD?

The dreaded hair type chart where “good hair” is distinguished from “bad hair”

I used to spend hours reading up on all these techniques of specific hair types. To me now, they’re a waste of time seeing as I’m a 3B at the back, 4A in the middle and 3C in the front…Or I think so anyway. The point is that hair typing is not as important as knowing what works for your hair. It could be the expensive Shea moisture products, or simple olive oil/coconut oil. What does not work as a moisturiser or styling product however is Pink Oil and other petrochemical products, you’ll get better moisturising by rinsing your hair in crude oil (which they are refined from)

Raw Shea Butter

Almonds, the superfood, also the source of sweet Almond oil

Don’t fall into the trap of becoming a product junkie. I speak from experience, I have a cupboard full of half used and unused products at great expense to my student loan. This was as a result of watching YouTube videos and believing that to get the same results I’d have to splurge on the expensive products the blogger’s used. Seriously, don’t fall into that trap, these people are paid to promote these products to you. Find what works best for you.

For me, it’s as simple as whipped shea butter as styling cream for my twist outs, braid outs etc. A homemade mixture of water, almond oil, avocado oil, grape seed oil and lavender oil (my four miracle oils) as a daily moisturising spray. A large toothed comb for everyday duties and a rat tail comb for styling. I limit combing to once or twice a week. To avoid breakages and split ends, dampen the hair first, comb in little sections and comb from the top gently

Good picture, terrible combing technique.

Partition hair, dampen if needed, gentle use of wide toothed comb from top to bottom.

Washing the hair is a once every three week occurrence in winter, however I co wash it with a mixture of conditioner (shea moisture coconut and hibiscus conditioner) and the four oils mentioned above weekly, if needed (after the occasional exercise), up to twice in one week. This last point is very important, it took me almost a decade to realise the reason I looked like an extra on Roots was because I washed it daily (whilst texturized). It was so dry and brittle, it never progressed past a dusty looking twa with sharp edges.

Circa 2006-2007. Thank jesus for puberty, good hair care and MAC.

2015, blowdried healthy hair. Don’t be afraid of the heat

2015, bendy rollers and shea butter.

Twist out and Shea butter

My haircare regime is pleasantly simple, it has to be for someone a lazy as me:

Sunday: cowash, twist out/braid out

Monday: enjoy twist/braid out

Tuesday: spritz with water and oil, enjoy twist/braid out

Wednesday: enjoy twist/braid out.

Thursday: enjoy twist/braid out. Re-twist/Re-braid at night especially if going out on Friday

Friday: enjoy twist/braid out

Saturday: spritz with water and oil, enjoy twist/braid out

The twists/braids take about an hour to do, 5 if I’m watching TV.

I don’t have special days where I do deep protein conditioning, banana and egg wash etc. I don’t need them personally but if your hair is in need of more TLC then there is space to schedule that into the regime above. In total my oils and conditioner cost me £25 on Amazon and the oils mixed together are also an effective after shower moisturiser. With daily use of the oils after shower as well as weekly use on hair, they’ve lasted me almost 3 months. It is this regime that has allowed my hair to grow from a twa when I cut it finally in July to shoulder length 12 months later. It truly works, and my skin is baby soft too as an added bonus

Big chop August 2014

April 2015. 8 months growth.

If you need any styling or moisturising advice, feel free to drop me an email or a message below. Also please, check out my #GlowUpChallenge

Ire