Opening a bank account was one of our first priorities upon landing in Nigeria. We went to the bank the first week in Ibadan, filled out the forms, counted our Naira and left with the understanding that sometime in unknown future we would have a bank account number and ATM card. Four weeks later, that day is finally here. Today, for the first time in a month I withdrew my own money from an ATM. I have been borrowing money from my teachers, my mom and the fellow students for the past month. I have serious debts to pay back (well not so serious because food–the bulk of my purchases– is incredibly cheap here).
Maybe we should have been scared when we visited the bank multiple times to find out our money was “in a certain place” and couldn’t be retrieved. But we all exercised extreme patience and alas, a month later, we can access our money. The bank seemed pretty legitimate-to enter each person must stand in a metal detector vestibule one at a time, the place is air conditioned and is usually packed with people waiting in line. The most stimulating part of each visit was watching every head turn at the moment we stepped through the entrance capsule. We made fast friends with the bankers and didn’t have to wait one minute before one approached us, ushered us to sit down and help us with our business.
Now we all have the pleasure of listening to the ATM machine play Hakuna Matata instrumentals while we insert our shiny cards that display our first name, middle name and last initial (don’t ask me why) to receive our hard earned Naira.