Nigerian student embraces change 6,592 miles from home

Jessica Hubble | Multimedia Journalist

By Sarah Barrientos | Reporter

Many students feel homesick at some point during their college career, but for Lagos, Nigeria, senior Tutu Adeyeni, the pain is especially real. Adeyeni’s home isn’t just a city away — it is a continent away.

Adeyeni came to America because she received a scholarship from the Nigerian government.

“I chose Baylor because it was a Christian school,” Adeyeni said. “The weather was kind of similar to Nigeria, so I thought I could survive here.”

However, Adeyeni soon learned that the similarities between Waco and Lagos ended with the weather.

Adeyeni described Nigeria as a collectivist society, which means that almost everything is done as a group.

“You think of family first,” Adeyeni said “You aren’t going to act up on your own. You have to think, ‘Will this disgrace the family?’”

In contrast, she described America as a much more individualist society, one that allows each person to bear their own burden.

“Everyone is to themselves,” Adeteni said. “People even live far away from their immediate family. In Nigeria, you don’t live that far away from your grandma. In fact, she’s probably living with you.”

However, even though it’s different, Adeyeni said she doesn’t think individualism is all bad.

“It’s a good thing to be able to know what you want to do, and to do it for yourself,” Adeyeni said.

While she said she can see the benefits of individualism, Adeyeni said she hasn’t completely assimilated to all of the American ways.

Adeyeni recalled one memory of hearing some other students refer to their parents by their first names.

“I wouldn’t dare,” Adeyeni said.

Adeyeni said that her time in America has changed her. During her first three years at Baylor, she did not visit home. Her first time returning to Lagos was over Christmas break last year, and she said readjusting to life in Lagos was tough. She said her family commented on her changing accent and called her American. Adeyeni said the most challenging part of going back to Lagos was when she had to return to Waco — 6,592 miles away from home.

In her four years at Baylor, Adeyeni made it a priority to be involved on campus. She is an active member of the Korean Student Association, Filipino Student Association, Vietnamese Student Association, leads a small Bible study group and has spent her spring breaks for the past three years in the Rio Grande Valley doing missions work with her church.

Adeyeni said she’s made many lifelong friends during her time at the university, and her friends agree and say that they love spending time with her.

“Tutu is probably one of the sweetest people I know. Anytime I see her, her smiles and hugs brighten up my day,” Spring junior Michelle Vo said.

“Whenever [Adeyeni] is around, there’s always laughter!” Chongqing, China senior Annie Zhang said.

Although this is her final semester at Baylor, Adeyeni says she’s not completely sure what her next step will be. Adeyeni isn’t worried, and with a smile she said, “I’ll go with God.”