I have visited at least eleven countries––Germany, The Netherlands, Canada, France, India, Ghana, Benin Republic, USA and the UK. I found travelling very essential. If you don’t travel, you look at your little corner and feel you have seen the world. As St Augustine said: “life is a book and anyone who didn’t travel read only a page.”
There is, however, a wide gulf between our own idea of travelling and how Westerners view it––they work yearlong to take a vacation; we travel mostly to shop.
I go to different countries, but my favourite destinations are France and Canada, I love their serenity and peace.
Most fascinating cities
I had a good time in Bangalore, India. The down side of the city––the smell, not that there was an open sewer or garbage dumps, but funk from the city’s covered drain escaped into the air and permeated the environment. We had to cover our nose with masks. Nonetheless, it is a country I would love to visit again.
I love Ghana too. The cab drivers were versatile, they could also serve as your tour guide. There is hardly a place you want to go that they don’t know of.
Favourite meal abroad
I have no problem with food when I am outside Nigeria. Give me rice any day and I am okay. On a scale of 1 to 10, I will score rice 7; it is the most universal food you can find anywhere you go in the world. Riz, riso, risotto or Arroz––whatever it is called––anywhere I go, once the rice meal is available, I am okay.
There is always the need for one to understand bits of the international languages. Of course you get by in most places but occasionally, you run into hitches. Once, after such stressful experience, I made up my mind to attend French classes. But after a month or thereabout, the interest waned. How I survive in Paris, for instance: I write out the basic expressions in French that I can use to conduct transactions on the street.
Educational lessons from travels
In Vienna, pupils are regularly taken to the country’s historical places. That way, they grow up appreciating their history, and they have deep understanding of who they are. I have tried to do the same with my school. I have taken the Nemvas School pupils to the National Theater, the National Museum and the Slave Trade museum in Badagry.
I have also learnt from my travels how functional education are appreciated in other countries, with strong emphasis on skills and vocation and not just paper qualification. I walked into a salon in America wanting to do pedicure and manicure and in the process also requested for facials, but they turned down my request for the latter. But you can do it, I said. Yes, but illegal, she replied. Saying, “we are not licensed to do that,” she took me to the wall and showed me their certification.
One: Plan ahead.
Two: Don’t travel just to shop. Travel to see places. Once, we were in Houston––our plane delayed––and I used the opportunity to visit the Body Worlds, an anatomical exhibition of dead human bodies that showed impressive comparisons between healthy bodies and organs and those affected with disease, from organs to muscles to the nervous system and to skeletal structures. You can see what they died of and you become acutely aware of the importance of living healthily. Guess what, only me and my daughter were the only black persons at the place. Where did the others go? They went shopping. At the shopping hubs, you would see a lot of people.
Three: Prepare ahead. Don’t pack your bags at the last minute. Don’t pick items or personal stuff you can conveniently get where you are heading.
Four: Travel like a tourist. Visit places. Relax. In my travels, I have never experienced racial discrimination––that is because I travel like a tourist. Anywhere in the world, there is respect for tourists.
I would love to visit the island countries of Africa––the likes of Seychelles, Mauritius, Cape Verde and Madagascar.
•Dr Jaivbo-Ojigbo has a doctorate degree in Strategic Education and School Management. She is an educational consultant.