After Marvis (29) got his degree in accountancy, he wanted to discover new perspectives in life and learn about other cultures. This choice stemmed from some important life lessons he received from those close to him. “All my energy is channelled towards my academic life right now.”

“A while ago I moved from Nigeria to Romania. My sister schooled there too, so I immediately had someone to guide me throughout the process of adapting to a new environment. I was pleased to see how much multiculturalism is present in this city. My expectation was to be in a place where I have other foreigners like me who would understand how I really feel at a particular point in time. Besides that, it was just more affordable compared to Western Europe. That’s why I’m here.”

His first moments in Romania were not that easy. “The weather was one of the most difficult aspects to adapt to. It was my first time in an environment this cold. I even started bleeding from my nose, and I had to go to the hospital.” But Marvis encountered another big cultural change. “In Nigeria, nobody knows about a reservation. But here, they will tell you to make a reservation for almost everything. You need to book an appointment with a barber, just like you’re going to see a doctor.”

Nigerian community

Right now, there are several Nigerian students in Cluj, so he prefers to hang out with them. “We have shared values, shared culture, and shared language. These are the reasons why it’s easier to get along with them. Romanians are friendly, but you tend to prefer someone you know, someone who understands you more. I think it’s a normal thing.”

Together they are all part of the Nigerian community in the city, something that Marvis could not live without. “For me, culture is very important. I believe that a man without culture has lost his identity. Our community is rather young and small. We try to come around once a month, try to meet, drink, eat, and do some cultural activities together.”

Educational purposes

Marvis’ moving to Europe was mainly important because of getting better educational opportunities. Therefore, he wanted to share a personal story. “One day, I was sitting outside with my dad. He told me about the family house my granddad built. It was a very small house because he couldn’t afford a bigger one. Then my father asked me what the house of my aunts and uncles looks like right now. I didn’t get the message immediately, but then it all became clear. My grandfather had a lot of children, so he invested all his money in education, knowing it was the best for their future.”

“Right now, you can have a lot of money. You can decide to build houses, drive flashy cars, or have the best dress. But what about tomorrow? What legacy are you leaving for yourself and for your children? My grandad left a legacy of a good life for his children. He left them properties which, in the long run, will stand the test of time when transferred from person to person.”

Marvis sees a bright future in front of him, but he still has a long way to go in terms of education. “I’m going to finish university in a very long while because I’m still in my bachelor’s now. I’ll be done with it in 2025. Then I still have a master’s degree to do and hopefully a PhD. All my energy is channelled towards my academic life; that’s my purpose in life now.”

6 questions for Marvis

Could you describe yourself in three words?
I think the first word would be ‘adventurous’ because I like to try new waters. Coming to Romania is a big adventure. The second word would be ‘dynamic’. I like to try new things to see what I’m capable of. The third one would be ‘courageous’ because adventure and courage go well together.

Can you name a song that you would never get tired of listening to?
‘Baby Calm Down’ by Rema, because for me it’s a soothing song. I use it to relax anytime I’m stressed out. I can listen to it everywhere; in the classroom, in the workplace, or anywhere else. It just gives me a sense of relief.

If you could talk with anyone in the world, who would that person be?
My dad. I just love him so much.

What makes you happy?
I get fulfilment from doing things I envision in my head. So, I really get joy from coming up with some crazy ideas and sharing them with someone. If that person then laughs, it’s an even greater motivation to go and try it. I get so much satisfaction out of trying new things

What would you say is your favourite place in the world?
I would say it’s being anywhere with my dad. I just want to be with him. I really don’t get to spend so much time with him because I’m always away from home.

If you could ban anything from this world, what would it be?
Ban anything? Well, the Romanians will probably kill me for this. But I would ban smoking. In Nigeria, not that many people smoke. It was a huge shock for me when I came here because almost everyone seems to do it.

By Sam Vergauwen