Voices From Abroad: The good, the bad and ugly side of life in the UK

Ngozi Onyeanu| All my life, I’ve lived in my home country (Nigeria).

Asides family vacations and a couple of official travels, I’ve never had to spend more than 3 weeks outside my country.

March this year, I relocated to the UK with my family for studies.
All in all, it hasn’t been a bad experience.

We stay in the Teesside area, in a beautiful and serene community. My children love their school and the people are generally friendly.

Most of the bad experiences we’ve had have been with bus drivers. Some of them are quite friendly, but some are not just unfriendly, but downright rude and even mean.

There was this particular driver who kept ignoring my children when they greeted him as they got onto the bus and when they got off the bus. Even when they thanked him as they got off, he still ignored them.

At first, I thought he couldn’t understand my children because of their different accent, but we’ve met this man 2 other times, and he’s done the same thing, so I know it’s deliberate.

There was this day I went to pick my children up from school. The app kept showing that our bus was being delayed, and we were tired, so I decided to order a taxi.

For some reason, the taxi was also taking its time. While standing and waiting for this taxi, we spotted the bus we were meant to take, coming our way, so I quickly cancelled my taxi order and asked my children to flag down the bus.

At first, I thought the driver wasn’t going to stop. He kept going until he was almost outside the bus stop line, then suddenly stopped.

This was when I realized that we weren’t standing exactly where we were supposed to. It was around the bus stop area, but not exactly. Remember I said earlier, that I had ordered a taxi, we were standing close to the bus stop, easy for the taxi driver to park without disrupting flow of traffic and without also disturbing the bus if one came while we were getting into the car.

As we rushed up to board the bus, the driver asked me why we didn’t stand at the appropriate place. Thinking he was genuinely interested or curious, I smilingly told him that we had forgotten where we were.

With a condescending look on his face, he snidely remarked, “forgot where you were, where did you think you were, another planet?”

This was when I realized that he wasn’t trying to be friendly, but meant to be rude, so I ignored him and went to find seats with my children.

Another time I was trying to catch a bus…
I was across the road, less than a minutes walk from the bus stop and I was running, asking the driver to wait.
This guy looks straight at me, moves on to make a U turn and drives off.

A woman who just got off the bus as I was running to catch up was appalled!
She gave me an apologetic look, there was really nothing else she could do, as she walked away.

I have a number of other stories of people being rude and partially aggressive since we moved here, but I won’t tell them.
I won’t tell them all because I’ve had more good experiences than bad ones and I choose to concentrate on those good ones.

I decided to write about it because I needed to let all the negative feelings out of my system. As I write, I feel better and I’m able to forgive these people.

Our stay here in the UK has been a potpourri of thoughts, emotions and experiences. It has given me the opportunity to understand human beings and our nature better.

I have come to realize that people are the same everywhere, no group of people is better or worse than another.

All people/countries have their good and bad sides, we just have to know that it’s the same red blood that flows in our veins, learn to understand one another and get along.

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