Safia Baig from Pakistan shares her experiences while studying at the University of New Mexico and how these experiences will help her when she returns home.
Life is about making choices, but some of them can change our life dramatically. I decided to come to America for only one semester, although I knew it was really a challenge to me. There are many things in life that can change our life course. It can either make a positive impact or a negative impact on a person’s life. Living abroad is a great opportunity for people to gain a lot of useful experiences and valuable knowledge. During this period of time, these days will not be ordinary but new experiences and memorable days. There have been ups and downs, smiles and frowns, but in the end, it will be a remarkable experience that will never be forgotten.
The United States of America! Since I came here I have had both good and bad experience which might be considered cultural shocks. Here I would like to tell you one of my experiences that I have had in America and then I am going to make an analysis of cultures in the USA and in Pakistan. Perhaps my religion is Islam, so one of my good experiences is the freedom that I never had before in Pakistan. Initiating greetings to the opposite gender seems impossible in my culture. But in the USA, I will receive a warm hug in return. Hugging the opposite sex is not common in Muslim culture at all. I never hugged a boy. It was very surprising to me. In the beginning, I thought maybe they wanted to tease me or they express good feeling about me, but after a while I started realizing that it is a part of American culture and it is a normal thing, and I do not have any problem with it now. I learned that people must think about everything they do and do good things which are useful for people and make us closer in order to have peace all over the world. I learned that we should love each other like a family and be closer to each other and transfer this positive sense to others with positive points like hugging.
When I first came here, my English was so bad that I could not listen and speak to native English speakers. I just knew a few words then guessed what they meant. I had a lot of troubles with getting around, opening up a bank account, and trying to ask for directions when I was lost. I also faced some problems during my stay in the USA, but my roommate always made me understand the true meaning of life. She also made me happy by giving me good advice. I am lucky here to be here in the USA and I hope all I have learned here is only the starting point of my future path.
The USA is a land of rich and diverse cultures, knowledge and a pluralistic society. This cultural exchange program gave me an opportunity to visit this country and it is a life-time experience for a young Pakistani woman like me hailing from a small village. This program also helped me in meeting people from different worlds and building my social skills. I am sure when I will go back to Pakistan as a more learned person. I will definitely share all the new things I learned with the people back home.