Omo and Eulanda Osagiede are the creators of the travel lifestyle blog, Hey! Dip Your Toes In. This multicultural couple shares about living, loving and working together in London, England.
Share a little bit about your background. Where are you both from?
When people ask us the question, “Where are you from?” we usually pause and give each other a quizzical look which is our way of saying, “Where do we start?” That question always raises a conflict of nationalities. Between us, there are 3 continents, 3 countries and 2 different cultures. Eulanda was born in Illinois and raised in Denver, Colorado. Omo is dual Nigerian and British by way of Benin City and Lagos, Nigeria.
Both our families could not really afford international travel when we were growing up and so most of our travel was local (i.e., within country). Coming from a military family, Eulanda and her family travelled extensively across the United States. Road trips were a common and very enjoyable part of summer. Omo meanwhile attended boarding school in Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja which was over 700 kilometres from their family home in Lagos. While schooling so far away from home was challenging, Omo’s boarding school was part of a government project to foster integration between Nigeria’s over 200 ethnic groups. The school was a melting pot and was the perfect example of cross cultural living.
A career move brought Omo to the UK back in 2006 and I applied and was accepted to the MFA program at Roehampton University. Love happened at some point in that journey and here we are today. We’re professionals in very different fields (technology and the arts) but through our blog we’re very excited that we’ve found common ground which allows us to work together.
Omo, prior to the UK, you were in Lagos. Was this your first expatriation move?
Moving to the UK was my first expatriation move. I was perfectly happy building my career in Nigeria. However, when I was approached by a headhunter in 2006 to join one of the world’s top 4 consultancy companies, the opportunity to progress my career on a much bigger stage was too good to refuse. In 2006, the UK was positioning itself as the world’s leading financial centre. Despite being nervous about moving countries and worried about my ability to succeed in unfamiliar terrain, the challenge was what I needed to take my career to the next level.
Eulanda, you used to live in Denver. What was your experience moving from the U.S. to the UK?
I thought the move would be relatively easy. I didn’t expect to miss home too much. However when I got to the UK, I found that there was a cultural learning curve for me. It took me a while to stop converting currencies and measurements in my head. Despite the shared language base, I did often feel like a foreigner. Eventually, I found myself embracing this new culture and developing deeper relationships.
How did you guys meet? What advice do you have for those who worry about dating opportunities while abroad?
We like to think that we are the poster (black) couple for online dating ( we’re still trying to get Match.com to hire us as brand ambassadors!). We both decided to give online dating a try around the same time . Within weeks of signing up, we connected and shortly afterwards went on our first date. Within 2 years of meeting, we got married. So although online dating comes with its own share of misadventures, we like to encourage everyone to give it a go. The secret to making it work is to be YOU – be the same person online as you are in real life. Nobody likes surprises!
Exposure to different cultures and communities can be fun. After all, that is one of the reasons why people travel. Cross cultural dating could present opportunities to learn a new language, try new foods, learn new cultural traditions and broaden your worldview.
What are some important things to consider when dating and marrying cross culturally?
Cross cultural dating or marriage forces you to step outside of your comfort zone and stretch your boundaries. This in itself presents growth opportunities. Some people may struggle with this but in our experience, love can make it work. It is important to remember that both parties in the relationship are learning, shifting ground and growing at the same time. Both parties need to be patient with each other because this will be a lifelong process (in the context of marriage of course).
Dating while abroad can be challenging especially when you find yourself in a country where you don’t speak the local language or if you are a different race. The important thing is to focus on building friendships. Make yourself approachable even if language is a barrier. Be willing to rewrite the rule book. Be willing to embrace the local culture. Learn the language and local customs. Attempting to communicate in the local language is always a good conversation starter. Step outside of your own network and find opportunities to hang out with the locals. Our experience has shown that love is not restricted by geographical boundaries. Love always finds a way in the end.
Describe Hey! Dip Your Toes In. How did you guys come up with the concept and what is your mission?
Hey! Dip Your Toes In (HDYTI) began as a series of Facebook posts about our travel and cooking adventures. Every time we shared content with our circle of family and friends, we always got great feedback and loads of questions about how, why, when, where we did whatever we did (e.g., create a new recipe or visit a new destination). Eventually, Eulanda’s dad was the one who first planted the idea of a blog to share our experiences with a wider audience. In 2015 we took a trip to Sri Lanka and the Maldives and after that trip, we felt we had some great content that we could share. HDYTI was born in February that year.
Initially, HDYTI was created as a central space to share our travels, recipes, and local lifestyle happenings around London. However, now a year later, HDYTI has birthed into something more personal and creative than we ever imagined it to be. It’s developing into a platform of influence where we can share the stories of others that might not be traditionally heard, and share content that encourages discourse in the areas of travel, food, cultural identity, and more!
We will also be launching some very exciting products and services this year. One includes services for businesses and entrepreneurs, in the form of small business transformation. We plan to combine our decades of experience in the tech, business, and creative industries to help others tap into their ideal client markets and truly grow!
What do you hope people learn or take away from your blog?
We want people to be encouraged and emboldened to explore the world, even if it’s locally, through global cuisine and music events. We learn so much about ourselves when we open the door to global adventures; which can be feasibly experienced even as a couple or family.
You were both raised in different cultures. What has been the relationship between your current location and your black identities?
We’ve both learned that identity is fluid. If we base our relationship with our day to day lives solely on our cultural histories, adaptability and growth will become quite limited and stagnant. We’ve realised that constantly being transparent about our struggles, paying homage to past historical legacies, (whilst embracing change), provides a solid road towards our future. We are Black, British, American, and Nigerian, by birth, and by choice. We choose to recognise various traditions from all of these unique cultures in our household through the foods we make, the content we write, the way we dance, the clothing we wear, the stories we share, and so much more!
For the newbie, what’s one must have experience while visiting London?
For the London newbie, an afternoon spent along the southbank is such a great way to take in several sights, great cafes, and observe London life! Start at Waterloo station, and walk towards the river. From there, you can walk past the London Eye, and see Westminster Abbey and Big Ben right across the River Thames. Pop into the Riverwalk cafe and have some garlic-rosemary chips and a great beer! It is really easy to see almost all the major central London attractions, simply by walking.
What has been the most unexpected thing you’ve learned as expatriates in the UK?
The fact that many people in London are from different cultures, countries and backgrounds, and the fact that we can all live in London and get along, means that there is very little that differentiates us as the human race.