Damilola Okeyoyin: My Experience Studying Abroad!
Damilola Okeyoyin is a brilliant, confident, young and highflying lady – a Biochemist, Student Ambassador and Entrepreneur at DamiOke_Naturals. She recently graduated few days back from the department of Biomedical Science at the University of the West of England, Bristol UK. She enjoys studying, travelling, exploring new cultures, music, writing, drawing and painting.
We decided to interview her as she was open to sharing her story and experience of what it felt like studying far away from home as well as inspiring others along same path – the benefits she enjoyed and the challenges encountered on her career journey. Enjoy!
What was it like leaving home and your family for the very first time? How did you feel being in a different environment?
- It was a thrilling experience and quite daunting at first as I had never been that far away from home. Spending my first night in my new home all alone was sad at first to be honest because I came in during the fall season and I underestimated how cold it could get. And also as I had never been exposed to that amount of cold in my life, I wasn’t mentally and physically prepared. But everything worked out fine at the end.
How did you go about your admission? What major challenge did you face while preparing to travel outside? Was it your first time?
- I applied to the university through a representative of the international college back in Nigeria as I had to go to undertake a fast track college year before beginning university. There wasn’t any major challenges – just the normal having good grades to get into college, having funds to pay for tuition fees, financial upkeep and applying for a study visa.
What are your take aways? What was your experience like? Did you enjoy it? What major challenges did you face?
- My take away is to always do what you love and enjoy doing it because that’s what would motivate and give you the encouragement when things get tough and when one feels like calling it quit. Sometimes, it gets hard and that’s why I can never underestimate the power of prayer. It may sound cliche but being in a different country far away from my parents and facing challenges that I could only describe to them, the only thing that kept me strong was the fact that I could talk to someone and I mean God who was there when everything happened.
- The major challenge I encountered was getting to interact with people from different parts of the world because we Nigerians are quite sheltered and also because I was the only black student in my class. I overcame this by pushing my fears and insecurities aside and becoming more approachable because I realised that the energy we project across to people can influence what they think about us. I am happy to say I have made some wonderful friends from all over the world both from while at college to when I got to university.
What key things helped you during your stay over there? What skills and characteristics shaped your career and contributed to your success so far?
- What has helped shaped my career and contributed to my success includes what I call the “naija spirit” haha. This means that even when times get tough, we get tougher. I remember after my first year of university, most people in my class dropped out and the only thing I could think of was the huge disappointment I would be to my parents if I did that because they have always ingrained in me the principle that if I start something, I have to finish it. So I believe this principle has really contributed to my success.
What’s your perception on studying abroad? Would you encourage or support it? Why?
- I believe that if you have the opportunity, you should. As you will get to see how big the world is specifically from meeting people from different parts of the world. However it shouldn’t be a do or die affair.
On Nigerians studying abroad and for those living there, what is it like? Are they being molested or treated unfairly? Do racism still exist? How did you deal?
- Racism is one of the cross we must bear from being black and it definitely means we go though life tougher than most people as our struggle is great. Racism and racist people still exist unfortunately, but the key is to just ignore them and look at the bigger picture. Never stoop down to their level because they hate as a result of the fact that we are better than them and that is enough punishment for them I think because they can never love themselves. The Most important thing is to love yourself and know that you are royalty and finally stay woke. Love and know your history!
Lastly, what advice would you give someone out there looking forward to this same opportunity of studying abroad? What are your preferences for University choices?
- My advice is to always do your own research, try to find and contact students at the university and see how they love it and hopefully you would be alright. Most of all be smart with the Landlords because they can try to be sneaky. I have no preference for university choice because I believe it depends on your own personal preference.
Thanks a lot for sharing your experience with us. We wish you all the best in your future endeavors!