What I’ve Learned By Living In Another Country

Some people love to travel.

Normally people don’t like to stay away from family, friends and the place where they grew up, but traveling is a part of life. It’s important to go out and explore places, culture and traditions, and you can do that only if you decide to step out of your comfort zone. If you want to strive for things you want in life then you have to work hard to achieve success.

I believe that this world is a book. If you don’t travel then you have only read one page. The more you travel, the more you learn or experience.

Having been born in Pakistan and traveled to the U.S. for school, I found my changing environment and time have brought lessons to my life.

1. I became a leader to help others dealing with homesickness.

I came to United States in December 2015. Before coming here, I pictured the movie images I had in my mind. I’ll admit, I was always the mama’s boy, so coming to
this part of the world – which is almost 7,700 miles away from family – was one of the most important decisions of my life.leadership-pic

I remember chatting with the alumni about the opportunity to study at Minnesota State University Moorhead. I don’t know how I made one of the biggest decisions of my life within weeks and landed in Moorhead, Minn.

I miss home every single day. I have friends here who are from other countries and some of them don’t call home for weeks. When I see myself calling home twice in one day, I feel happy and different. Homesickness is the one of the biggest issues I have faced and am facing but I have found enough strength to handle it. I’ve found that my experiences can also help others feeling the same way.

For example, I am currently working on campus as a Resident Assistant and was the Student Orientation Counselor last year. My primary duty is to make students comfortable. At the same time, I face the same issues myself. One of the reasons I wanted these two jobs was to prove that, internally, I am struggling with homesickness, but I can survive on my own. My goal was to make myself strong enough and to build a personality that helped people get over their homesickness. I found that I am one of the best people for this job because I am also going through it and know how to help others feel better.

2. I’ve noticed lifestyle changes.

It is true that you only get one life to live (in this world at least!). People often say, “Go live your life.” We can take this in so many different ways. We see people everyday working and going to school at the same time while other people are hanging out; that’s how people live.

What I have experienced in my life is interesting in so many ways. I have lived two different lifestyles. Pakistan is completely opposite of how people live in the United States, especially for students.

dhaba-friendsWhat do students do in Pakistan?

They go to class, enjoy college life, play games, hang out with friends and family and study if they would like. I was not a spoiled kid, but I had a luxurious life back in Pakistan. I use to get up late around 10 a.m. or noon, go to afternoon classes and then evening soccer and late night hangouts before coming home to eat and sleep. So basically I had nothing to worry about. Tuition, bills, daily expenses were all paid by my parents because that’s the lifestyle we have in Pakistan.

What do students do in the United States?

Students do pretty much the same here, but they manage their time and work well, too. It depends on how much they work, but most students either take out loans or work during college to pay their bills. I am not a very big fan of loans and prefer to work through school. Here I work a lot just so that I can pay my tuition and create a good future for myself. I’ve learned to be more organized and plan everything well ahead of time so I can maximize my time as much as possible.

3. Your parents work incredibly hard for you.

Parents are blessings, there’s no doubt about it. Everyone loves their family, most importantly their father and mother. “Age is just a number,” some people say. I believe this true. When our mother gives birth to us, who are we? Nothing but a tiny little baby. Slowly and gradually we grow mentally and physically.

So much effort was put in by our parents. For whom? Us, of course! But we don’t realize that until a certain age. The day a person has a sense of realization is the day that person changes his/her attitude towards everything. The person finally feels confident enough to take responsibility onto  their own shoulders.

I enjoyed my life in the beginning, but my thinking took a U-turn when I came to United States to complete my undergraduate degree. The day I started working I realized how much hard work my family has done for me over the years. They wouldn’t reveal that they were tired or had a hundred other problems because they wanted me to be happy. My parents fulfilled my needs and wants no matter what. The thought never came into my mind of how my parents are going to afford or manage everything. Every time I think of this, I see a positive change in myself as I experience an independent life in order to be a good person for the future.

4. Things vary across borders.

I know we all live in the same world, but that doesn’t mean that we all live the same way. Things are totally different if you cross one border to another. Lifestyle, culture, religion, norms, value, food and so many other things are different. All these things vary from one place to another and wherever we move, it’s our responsibility to respect and follow that culture.setting-boundaries-in-relationships-300x197

People in United States have different living style compared to Middle East. In general, college students in United States are mostly independent in terms of paying their bills and doing personal things on their own. In Pakistan, college students generally have to go to class and then can do anything they feel like doing depending upon the family system. There is no concept of working while being in college.

When I was in Pakistan, I was able to hang out and play soccer all day. Now I don’t even have time to go and see my friends at their apartment. Family members who live in the United States and Canada always complain about the differences in culture whenever they go back to visit Pakistan. I don’t think they are wrong, but they are also not right, because different places have different ways of doing certain things. Criticizing them is wrong. We should all be open to different cultures and be acceptable to different things.

5. Embrace your foreign status as an opportunity to learn.

content-passportLiving with full confidence is not something everyone can do. It’s not an easy job, especially when you are in minority. Self-confidence was one of the major issues I had in moving to the U.S. Not being able to communicate in English properly was challenging along with public speaking. But instead of getting discouraged, I took the step to overrule my problem by practicing – doing it over and over again.

When it comes to speaking another language, I’ve found not to hesitate to say anything, just say it. That’s the best way to overcome your fear. Secondly, take leadership roles and ask questions because, even if you say something stupid or incorrect, you can always present your foreign card. You can laugh about it instead.


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