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On the other side of the Globe! By: Sabeeha Hastam

On the other side of the Globe!

Every person in this world dreams, and blessed are those whose dreams come true! It was a lucky summer day which started with a cool morning breeze; and brought with it the happiest and most exciting news of the year for me, that marked the beginning of my new journey. The journey of some amazing experiences that gave a new direction to my thoughts and ideas and that changed my life forever.


Globe

It was August 7th, 2014 when I had to say goodbye to my people and my country for the first time in my life. The journey that started on Friday from Islamabad finally ended on Sunday at DC, the capital of USA where we had a three days orientation, the purpose of which was to introduce us to certain aspects of American life and culture that can help us to adjust to the society that is totally opposite than ours and where we have to live for the next five months of our lives. After spending three days in DC, ultimately we had to separate from one another and leave for our final destinations. Flying to Sioux Falls, a city in the Midwest where I was placed, all sorts of thoughts were running through my mind. I was excited and worried at the same time. Different questions were plaguing my mind. What if the people didn’t like me? What if they think of me as an extremist or terrorist? However all these worries were left behind when I realized that human beings are kind and loving all around the globe. They all were welcoming and open to their guests or foreigners just like the way we treat foreigners here in our country.


Sioux Falls is the largest city of South Dakota with a population of around 165000 people. It is one of the coldest cities of the states that is covered with snow for most part of the year but I was lucky enough to experience the beautiful colors of Fall the time I arrived there. When I reached the city, my college has not yet been started so I was accommodated with a host family. The experience of being with a host family was an amazing one because it gave me a chance to see the true heart and face of America. It also helped me to understand the basic customs and traditions that differentiate one culture from another. All my stereotypes about Americans started crushing and also theirs stereotypes about Pakistan too as I helped them learn more about my culture. Sometimes even the situation would become ridiculous at the dining table when I would be asked by one of my host family’s guests that how can I speak English if I am from Pakistan. Watching my host siblings talking with their parents on every issue and every topic sometimes reminded me about the youth back home who are not allowed to discuss certain topics with their elders as they are considered taboos. This would made me feel upset at times that how we think of our society as the one where the whole family is bounded to one another but in reality we are moving away from each other. Our youth as scared by their elders finds satisfaction outside their homes and thus indulge themselves in harmful activities which is hence destroying the future of Pakistan.

After spending two weeks with my host family I moved to Augustana College, my home for the next few months. Here I saw a new face of America where the life was super busy and where every person was just concerned with his own life. There is no concept of studying only a night before exams; libraries are filled with students from the very first day of the semester. Daily tasks or assignments are given to students which every pupil is obliged to complete before the deadline. Education system uses practical approach mainly and is mostly research based. Every student is supposed to write research papers on certain topics throughout the semester. At the start it was hard for me to adjust to the system but later on with the help of my Professors and friends I got used to the system and this is how I learned time management skills there. Another plus point that I noticed in American education system was that there is no concept of ragging in that society in fact every new student is helped and guided by the seniors. The student-teacher relation is too friendly where students can discuss all their problems with the teacher whether it’s related to class, or anything which is bothering them outside the class. I discovered that American society is too open to their youth, it does not classify different classes of society and that is the reason that generation gap is very unusual to be seen there.

Another aspect that I learned about the American culture is their devotion towards volunteering. There are a lot of volunteer organizations working in the country which I think is the reason that I was unable to see beggars around. Many students were enrolled as volunteers in those organizations and were encouraged by being given extra credits in exams to those students. One of the many other things that impressed me was the great diversity of people living in the same country.Despite of their different cultures, manners and points of view they are living peacefully and in harmony with each other. This diversity opened my eyes and at the same time forced me reckon about the 180 million people living in my country who always fight with one another sometimes on religious differences and other times on language and cultural issues or if they cannot find any of these reasons than politics is always there which is enough to make us stand against one another.

After my experience, I now believe that, we as exchange students have the responsibility upon our shoulders to bring the real change in our society by bringing forward the new ideas and techniques, that are being used by the developed societies of the world as, people are more likely to accept the change from within their society rather than from the outside. That is why, I strongly believe that an exchange experience is one of the most powerful ways to promote take some positive steps in different areas of our society that need our attention, and help end those centuries’ long conflicts that take our focus away from the real problems.

 Let’s talk about all the good things that could happen!

Let’s stop criticizing!

Let’s bring a positive change!

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