SALIMAH’S EXPERIENCE OF LIVING AND STUDYING IN THE US

Finally, a time is here to start something new that you’ve dreamed of and trust the magic of new beginnings. The moment I landed in the USA, August 29, 2017, for the very first time, I could see the doors open to the future. I took a deep breath, stepped on through – all ready to start a new chapter of my life. I was all prepared to live this brand new opportunity to rebuild what I really wanted all this time. After a long flight, I was told one of that one of the other scholar, Munira from Tajikistan, who was going to be my first ever roommate, is waiting for me in the apartment. I was quite excited and looking forward to meeting new friends who are part of this program. As soon as I reached the apartment, it didn’t really feel like an entirely new place. The credit for this goes to all WEF volunteers and team members. Due to their countless efforts to change this apartment into a home. It was well furnished and filled with all basic necessities. It was truly beyond our expectations.

The academic experience was going to begin from next day. Upon arrival to Herzing University, we were welcomed by Herzing’s staff and faculty members. A brief orientation session was arranged to introduce Herzing’s criteria and vision for its students.  Our first-semester class was going to start from September 5, 2017. The professors are well organized and consist of high command in their subject matter.  The class time is utilized effectively. Course objectives and requirements were clearly delivered to us. The classes are conducted in a way that every student is able to participate and share their views. What I like the most, there is a global perspective applied to the lessons in every class. Weekly assignments, discussions on organizational management and exposure to business articles have helped us a lot to think like a business student.  This can be reflected from our graded assignment issued every week. Apart from semester course, I was having a great time in our international class, specially designed for F-1 students to assist them with US lifestyles both socially and culturally and also, to acknowledge us about school’s rules and regulations for foreign students conducted by Erin Brick and Jim Kivikoski, senior student services at Herzing University. We really enjoyed their sessions. We had lunch specials, popcorn party and a trip to Georgia aquarium. The duration of a class was only 8 weeks but it ended up with some great memories. On last day of international class, we gave the presentation on what we have learned in the United States – academically, culturally and socially, so far. We have been awarded a certificate of an appreciation. Overall, the academic experience so far has given me unique perspective. I have also gained the skill to deal a lot with an online system for studying. Multicultural immersion is also an advantage living in the USA.

My decision of studying abroad has been appreciated by my undergraduate school “Ziauddin University” in Pakistan. I have been selected as the “alumnus of the week”. The feeling to represent my graduate school in my home country was something I cannot describe in words. Generally, studying in the USA has enhanced the value of my degree and this experience made me more self-motivated, willing to embrace challenges and able to cope with diverse situations.

Being very far from the house was a difficult time in an initial day. However, it allowed me to have a dialogue with myself, which is hard to do while I am among family.  It also enables me to meet new international friends who are as far from home as I am. Some experience here challenges me to rethink my own concepts and beliefs. In encounters with different cultures, I can see a clear vision of my own culture. Thus, this program helps me to teach more about myself, as well as it changes my way to see the world.

Studying in the United States also provided a great opportunity to travel and explore places during weekends and school holidays. On Thanksgiving, I took a trip to Miami, Florida. I loved exploring coconut grove and south beach. The weather was mild sunny which added a charm to the whole trip. I met few Hispanics and got a chance to learn about their cultures. I’ll make sure I should know Spanish when I visit Miami next time, because of a huge population of Hispanics in Miami.

Being a part of Aga Khan community. I am truly blessed to get a chance to serve my Jamat, my people. I volunteered at booth designing for diamond jubilee event. It was a pleasure to play my role in this event. In addition, I learned about team–work and mentorship through this project and most importantly, it feels great to serve your time in your community platform. Thanks to all Ismaili volunteers! They have been such an amazing support for us in all this time.

Throughout this journey, I have noticed whatever path you choose, you will be facing numerous challenges – academic, social and sometimes, personal, as a part of us is growing as an individual and independent person. Once we set a goal, we should be determined to achieve it. Speaking from my personal experiences, “have a vision and turn it into a mission.” Therefore, my vision is to chase new experiences, let those experiences develop you. To gain wisdom and internalized it. That will be my greatest reward.