Looking for a Life: Nigerian Students Discuss Their Decisions to Study in China

  •  Howard Lorne Martyn    


The decision to migrate for (ostensibly) educational purposes, is often accompanied by psycho-social feelings of fear, sadness, guilt, pride, happiness and courage. In this report, which is part of a larger study concerning Nigerian student migration to China, five Nigerian university students discuss their motivations for leaving home and studying in China. Students were interviewed on several occasions either on the campus of their university in Guangdong province, China, or in another convenient location near the campus. Narratives were transcribed and examined for commonalities in terms of reasons given for leaving Nigeria, and affective psycho-social feelings surrounding students’ decisions. Narratives are presented in first person accounts and coded for categorical content and episodic form. Episodic form is then graphed, not for quantitative analysis, but to show the positive, neutral and negative affective emotion, displayed during discussions on specific topics. Results reveal a high degree of pride in personal ability, and in the industriousness of kin. They also reveal happiness and a sense of satisfaction by participants in moving their lives forward, and being able to help family members in Nigeria. However, there were also feelings of sadness, anger and frustration at Nigeria’s poor economy, which participants believe is the result of government ineptitude and corruption. This study is limited in that it only considers male Nigerian migrants of the Igbo tribe, studying in Guangdong province. Future researchers are advised to widen the geographical area, include other Nigerian tribal members, and women.

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