from Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville, Nigeria & Tanzania to here

November 13, 2018 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ in your neighbourhood,stories

Five young African women have made St. John’s NL a home away from home

by Eniola Folarin

the housemates enjoy flora and light

On the 6th of September 2015, I came to St. John’s NL to attend Memorial. I was greeted with a beautiful sunny day and the strangest accent I had ever heard. I spent the first year and a half living on residence where I had the opportunity to meet students from here as well as the rest of the world. It was a deeply rewarding experience, but I was curious to experience living off-campus so I moved in with my now roommates on the 1st of September 2017.

In our little house, 4 countries from the African continent are represented. Usually, it’s 3 of us from Nigeria, and a person each from Cameroon and Congo Brazzaville. However, last summer, we had a roommate from Tanzania.

In addition to our shared African origin, my roommates and I have other things in common. For instance, we all attend MUN; while I’m studying sociology and psychology, my roommates are in MUN for biochemistry, linguistics, performance and communications media and engineering. We also love to cook. Almost every day, someone is in the kitchen cooking something. We tend to cook meals from our countries and share them with each other which is why our house tends to smell like spices.

NL light and heat is not the same as African light and heat, but the four have made the adjustment

Although we’ve only lived at our house for a little more than a year, we have been through a lot together. When we all moved in on the 1st of September, the previous tenants left the house in pretty bad shape and at the time we didn’t enjoy having to clean up after them but in retrospect, cleaning our new home was a great bonding exercise for us. When winter rolled around, we had no idea how to use an oil-based heating system, hence there were many nights when we went to bed freezing and sharing a space heater among ourselves. Again, we bonded through the cold and ended up improvising in more ways than one. For one, we taped plastic bags over our windows to insulate the house and used hot water bottles to keep our feet warm at night. The heating has been sorted out now, thankfully.

Another thing the girls and I bond on is the desire to make this place feel like home to us. Our countries are very different from this part of the world; the main thing being the weather – it doesn’t snow back home, and it never gets cold. It’s sunshine every day. Also, the food is different here, as expected. Nonetheless, we’ve been able to find some substitutes to our local ingredients. I personally, enjoy the smoked fish here and I use it in many of my meals.

This place has not only allowed us to meet each other but we’ve also learned how to improvise and step out of our comfort zones. Living in St. John’s has taught us the value of community and togetherness. We continue to grow and change just by being here and can feel the city growing and changing too just by having us here.


Eniola Folarin is a 3rd year undergraduate student at MUN majoring in sociology and minoring in psychology. Originally from Nigeria, she has made St. John’s NL her new home for over 3 years now, with the help of  a welcoming community and a strong support system. When not in school, she enjoys playing the ukulele and having a girls night in. She hopes to continue discovering more about NL while allowing the scenic province to teach her more about herself. Chocolate is her weakness. 

and she’s a greenrocker!  we were thrilled to have her here at Guide to the Good from November to August through the Centre for Social Enterprise and the Conservation Corps!

In Your Neighbourhood is a Guide to the Good series of stories about our communities.  Living La Vida Local!