HOST UK: My Visit to North Curry, Somerset.

HOST UKOn the weekend of October 23rd, I had the pleasant opportunity to visit a British home as part of the HOST UK program. I heard about HOST UK relatively late into my course in the UK. It is essentially a program for foreign students to experience REAL British life by visiting a British home for a weekend. You are profiled thoroughly and paired with a suitable host. I applied at about April and it took almost 6 months for me to be communicated to. I was called several times  and moved dates I was then told be going to a place near Somerset (Never heard of it) and would be staying with the Pattens. Dave Patten is an advertising man and owns a  marketing firm called Merry Marketing so I was looking forward to discussing some PPC and CPM.

Day One: Arrival and a loooooong Walk

I was received at the Train station by David and Brian (the second student guest) and we drove down to the village where he lived. I was looking forward to a village but alas is just like the suburbs. It reminded me of UNIBEN campus of the early 90’s when school was not in session, peaceful. We got down I was introduced to his lovely wife Lynda. As soon as I walked into the door I was greeted by two rascals, Moppet and Matilda, the basset hounds. They sniffed and sniffed until I had no smell. After a quick snack, we went walking with the dogs. On the ways I saw a corn plantation which brought back so many memories of growing up. I was taken to several places of historical importance. I visited a church that was one thousand years old, I touched a chest that was built in the 11th century amongst others.

Day Two: Glastonbury and My Cooking:

For those that do not know Glastonbury, it is the site of Britain’s biggest festival and also the site of so many myths. It is a spiritual place. On Saturday, we paid a visit to Glastonbury where we visited the Tor; I had to drag my lazy ass up the hill. And the sight form the top of the hill was lovely; we got don and went to visit the town. I I had pondered visiting a palm reader but on getting there I changed my mind. The woman looked like someone who would look into my future see it bright, and try to darken it. So I did not take the chance. I visited a shop that sold Marijuana seeds and everything possible makes form it from toothpaste to G St**ngs (I swear!). Afterwards, I went to various places that sold all types of scents from “touch and follow” (love portion) to the type that calm the nerves. I saw some retired hippies roaming about. It was an interesting place to visit.

Weed, Moi and David
Weed, Moi and David

In the evening, I prepared Jollof rice for the house. They seemed to like it but I was hoping there would be no after effects, luckily none of them that any stomach upset so I guess it was all good!

Glastonbury Tor, Matilda and Moppet
Glastonbury Tor, Matilda and Moppet

Day Three: The coast, Cream, Scones and Tea, Au revoir…and the bloody Scousers!

Sunday came and I woke up quit late, using the excuse of the change of time. We had porridge for breakfast no Not Yam porridge but oats, that is what is called porridge here.  Quickly said goodbye to Lynda . Brian, Dave and I then went down to Quantock beach for a little picnic. It was another loooog walk again (I know, I am a lazy bastard :)). As soon as the clock struck 2 my mind was no longer (Man U was palaying liverpool) there I was, wondering how many goals Rooney would have put past Reina.  We made some brief stop overs and quickly got to the train station. Luckily there was a pub by the Station so I quickly said goodbye to Dave and Brian. I entered the pub and everyone was looking at me strangely (I forgot to mention that in my three days and visiting several places, I was the only black face I saw. I actually felt special Nick Griffin should be relieved).  The score was 0-0 when I began watching with 30 mins to the end. i’ll leave it there. But just know I was not smiling when i left the pub! After the match i got on the train back to my Coventry (the Benin of UK)

Lessons learnt:

1. It reaffirmed my belief that the elderly Brits are very nice and welcoming. The women remind me of my grand mum 🙂

2. I prefer the suburbs to the city (British village that is).  What made me like the ‘village’ was the air of unity I sensed. Everybody knows everyone. It was the birthday of a lady and poster boards were places around announced she hit the big 40. What was interesting was that only her first name was used and they all know who it was. It reminded me of the good days when neighborhoods were like large families.

3. I have to play more family games. I could not remember the rules of Jackpot, or Go Fish.. Damn you Facebook!  We spent too much time with computers, I cannot remember the last time I played ludo, snakes and Ladders or even scrabble . No, not the one on FB, with a human being physically.

4. I will have a Dog.

5. I realized that everywhere in Nigeria has as much history if only we preserved it all.

I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of my trip. Many thanks to David and Lynda Patten, they were PERFECT hosts! If you are a foreign student in the UK, I would greatly suggest you participate in HOST UK.

I really hope to visit them again.

With my lovely hosts, David and Lynda Patten
With my lovely hosts, David and Lynda Patten

What is wrong with the UK Startup scene?

Where is the HUB?This post was initially  titled “Where should the startup hub in UK be? Hint: NOT London!” of which the central theme was; although London is the hub of internet technology in UK, it should not be because of the high cost of living which eliminates startups between idea and Y Combinatior graduation stage (product fitness). I also stated that because of the importance of a living community tied to Universities like that which exists in the Valley (Stanford and Berkley), London is NOT conducive, as the Universities there are deep inside the city. I tried to propose a hub location by comparing Cambridge, Oxford, London, and Warwick (my University). While researching for my write up, I realized that there are greater challenges to the UK start-up scene than having a main hub .

Before going on, it is important to note why I am in a great position to write this post.

  • I am a foreigner (Yes, I am Nigerian), therefore I have no bias.
  • I have followed the ‘UK start-up scene’ quite closely for a while (1 year)
  • I have just begun my startup OnePage so I have firsthand experience of what is like creating a startup in the UK

I will itemize the factors working against the UK startup community thereafter suggest my solutions to the challenges I have listed.

Continue reading

So you want to school in Jand eh?

I had previously posted this on UKnaWAH, the forum for Nigerians in the UK, to talk about their experiences to help each and every one of us in this land. Unfortunately, it did not take off. This post is targeted at those coming down for the first time and might be useful to those that have visited but not schooled in the UK. The suggestions are from my own perspective i.e Male, Warwick University MSc JJC. DO NOT take it as authoritative.

So you have made it to JD, congrats!  Well, this list is a combination of what I would do if I am coming again, (in no order) and some things you should just know.

  1. I would buy all my clothes in Yaba! Not necessarily Yaba but in Nigeria. Clothes are cheaper in Nigeria because they come from China directly. Don’t worry about buying clothes that are good but mass supplied in Nigeria because they will not be here. e.g. I have not seen one Hackett shirt (which was in vogue when I left) since I arrived a year ago.
  2. I would attend orientation: coming late did not help when trying to integrate. JJC no good. It is better to be ‘jambiteish’ when everyone around is.
  3. I would learn how to cook: Believe me, the sweet sound of sausage, ham, baked beans e.t.c is highly overrated. In one week, you will long for your home food and you have to cook it.
  4. I would learn how to cut hair: Spending 12 pounds to cut your hair every week is not the best use of money. Believe me, cutting your hair is not that hard.
  5. I would plan my December holiday immediately I arrive: I waited till December to attempt planning my holiday for December. Unfortunately, having a Nigerian passport is not the best if you want to travel at shortest notice. In December, it is virtually impossible to get a visa appointment and it is about 4 weeks to process a visa.
  6. I would learn how to write an academic document: Believe me, if you want to survive here, you better learn how to reference and write academic documents. PLAGIARISM of any sort (you will be amazed what is termed plagiarism here) is not accepted. Don’t worry there is no other way but to learn how to reference. It will save you a lot of time.
  7. I would attend all social events in the early days (with flat and class mates), it is important to mix early…after bonds have been formed, it is difficult to break in.
  8. I would NEVER buy any winter/long term attire from PRIMARK…I swear, I did not know better, my men Emma and Uche mislead me.  It is best to buy all your long term things from quality places
  9. I would join as many club and societies. The amount of skills to learn are enamous. For Warwick students, I would recommend PhotoSoc, Warwick Entrepreneurs and Warwick sports.
  10. I would apply for jobs early! Entries for the next year vacancies close by October.
  11. I would buy a Lebara or Lyca mobile line. Most of your early calls will be to home (Nigeria). It is the most economical and smart decision to make. Take you time and choose a contract that appeals to you later on.
  12. I would get my international driver’s lisence from home. You can drive for a year with it.
  13. I would stay off campus (if i do not get Tocil). You can save as much as 40 percent of on Campus rent.
  14. I would ensure I forget the conversion rate from pounds to Naira. I almost did not eat for the first week cos two slices of bread (you might call it sandwich) cost  at least 2 p0unds i.e N500
  15. I would buy all the software I need from the good old computer village. Believe me, just do it.

This is an article in progress. I will update it as I receive comments and I remember more things.

Oo, KCOB, MSc (Warwick)

Thank you DropBox, You saved me!

“There is no greater motivator of man than the last minute” -Jay Levanne

I never planned that my first post after my hiatus would be praising a web start-up but here is why.  I left the compilation of my project to the very last hour before the submission deadline. It meant I had an hour to bind, get to school and submit. Well as devil would have it (he never fails to fuck things up) my MS word started malfunctioning for the first time in two years. After much struggle, I was able to convert my dissertation to pdf ,  submit the digital copy online then rushed with a copy of my dissertation in a flash drive I borrowed from my housemate.

Because I was in such a hurry to print, I could not afford to carry my bag with my laptop because it was too heavy (I had 18 library books).  So I ran off to the printing and binding shop. After waiting in a queue it got to my turn (40mins left) I proudly opened the file and gave instructions. The woman them commented ” your own looks pretty short, just 40 pages”…WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT? I discovered over 50 pages of my work were missing. I died and returned to earth…. then I smiled and remembered I automatically backed all my documents with DropBox. So I quickly downloaded the back up and to my shock, I discovered it was corrupted!! That is where the MAGIC of DropBox came in. It saves every version of every file! so luckily I had saved my final dissertation about 5 times before the final one. So All I needed was to go back three versions and recovered my work :).

Just so you know, I was able to submit just 10 mins before time. There is no way I would have avoided the 3 marks per day late penalty without DropBox.

Thank you Arash and Drew for creating Dropbox.

To everyone reading, ensure you download it now!!!