ISRAR HAKIM VALUES THE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT

It has been three months already since I have been in the USA: time really flies. However, it feels like I have been here for much longer since I have integrated into the new environment quite quickly.

During the past few months, after my arrival in the US, I saw myself in various states of mind and having mixed emotions; one day I could find myself running around my new apartment singing that how wonderful the United States is and the next day I would be on the phone, with my family back home, contemplating my decision of coming here and whether or not I could be able to make the best out of it.

The first month, I focused mostly on networking; I made friends, explored the neighborhood and tried different food. I met interesting people belonging to various background and having varied expertise who then enlightened me with their expert opinions about everything particularly the American life style, the diverse culture and how to best adjust in it.

Quite a few things came to me as very surprising. The first and foremost thing I noticed was individualism and the extent to which it is practiced here. This is something, I found, totally opposite of what we have in Pakistan-united family structure. In Pakistan, normally, there is one head of the house, usually a guy, who would influence the majority of the decision inside the house as well as outside the house. Children would be dependent on their parents even when they are grown up for financial assistance, and parents have a big say in the life decisions of their children, no matter what their age is. However, it is very different in the USA. Children stop living with their parents as soon as they turn 18 and everyone is independent. Nobody is dependent on anyone for anything and this may be the reason for the huge economy. But then again, there always is a tradeoff. The level of individualism and independence results in stress, depression, and all of these are linked to loneliness. According to recent studies, loneliness is becoming a major issue among the people in the west leading to depression.

Learning, from the academic point of view, is going well as well as the MBA program is good to me so far. I never thought I would be able to sit in an evening class for straight 5 hours but thanks to the professors in American education system, they make it very interactive which keeps one away from losing attention. They encourage the students to speak up and participate in class which is something, I find, not that common in Pakistani education system. I am finally getting used to long readings which otherwise, was very difficult for me being an engineering student. I am among the first few students who have started to set up a business club at the university level. The purpose of the club would be to discuss new ideas, organize events and meet inspiring people. The club is in the pre-mature stage and once it is set up, this is going to provide an enriching experience in terms of learning and growth.

I celebrated my first Thanksgiving with my relatives in Florida. I sat with my cousin and friend after 10 years and cherished our childhood memories. We went to a river and tried kayaking. It was a wonderful experience. The carefree joyous moments made me miss my childhood, in a good nostalgic way.