There is a popular connotation in Nigeria called ‘J.J.C.’, short for ‘Johnny Just Come’, which is used to describe a newbie to a particular environment. For a country I felt instinctively attuned to, I have had so many ‘Soji Just Come’ moments in the U.K. so far, and there are still many to come.
Flying into London for school couldn’t have felt any more natural. I felt like I was back at home; home to a country where I had often traveled to make investment pitches to multiple frontier and emerging market funds in my role as Head of Nigeria Research and Lead Sub-Saharan Africa Banking Analyst at Renaissance Capital. Those trips involved many black cabs and tube runs, great meals in some of the best restaurants London has to offer and accommodation in top rated hotels in Central London.
Still basking in the euphoria of arriving London to meet proper sunshine, my first week was relaxed and I visited all my favorite spots and lived life forgetting I wasn’t swiping the corporate card anymore. Then reality dawned. Looking at my cash burn rate after just a week, I realized I had to change tact swiftly. This meant that for one whose cooking skills were low, I needed to find a sustainable solution, quickly. Luckily, London had many affordable solutions, including some Nigerian ones! But it is in the plethora of options that I have found some of my biggest challenges and learning points settling into London.
Beyond feeding, I needed to find an apartment. I needed to figure out the most cost effective transport solution; and for such a regular question, there was surprisingly no straight forward answer. Do I get the rail card? What of the student oyster? Travel card, PAYG, off-peak, banks etc. Then came energy bills, water bills, TV bills, council tax, heating, dry cleaning etc. and the list goes on. We had not even gotten to orientation day and I was already feeling overwhelmed. But I wasn’t alone. With >90% of the MBA2018 set being international students, almost everyone had similar questions. The discovery of Slack (the chat app) kept the community alive and the discussions structured in groups.
My SJC moments have been plentiful but the often generous assistance of alumni and current students has meant that these moments have reduced. Now that my settling down phase is largely done, another phase, which brings a different kind of busy than what I have been used to, has commenced. 8:15am classes, late night tutorials and language classes, cases, assignments, career events, sundowners, leadership skills trainings, PLP sessions, club interviews and events, parties, exams, stock pitches, networking, Arsenal matches etc. Indeed, one’s MBA story is probably best told while living it. Watch this space and follow my MBA journey through what has been an exciting time at London Business School!