Life is an epitome of bizarreness, and I say this with credible experience. Like every other Desi girl, living in an ever dynamic developing country like Pakistan, going through the basic grind of life, I legitimate never thought I would hit the jackpot. But guess what; there's always an extraordinary ride waiting for you in this ordinary world, you just got to believe. That's my secret.
Roughly about four months into IBA and my mind couldn't stop fantasizing about the exchange program. And here's the thing, it's impossible for me to not have the next goal after my previous goal has been attained. As soon as I'm done with one thing, I have to have something else lined up to work for.
Long story short, I worked immensely hard to get shortlisted for the prestigious exchange program and as they say, "where there's a will, there's a way" I actually got selected, marking it stage one of my journey. The second stage was, Apprehension. Lord, the level of anxiety to step out and live on my own with my parents seven thousand, six hundred and seventy one miles away was absolutely insane. But I had to carry out this journey on my own, step out of my comfort zone and face all challenges and adversities heads on. I only knew one thing that I was hungry for learning. I knew no matter how unnerving things might look, I had to allow myself to experience everything.
Stage 3: the actual travel and getting to The United States of America, see what the hype was about. It would be an understatement for me to say that uh, it was a good experience; this was by far 'the best' thing that ever happened to me, in my 22 years of living. Life couldn't get any more happening with me, sitting with candidates from over 14 different nations, eating, learning, and living with the most beautiful souls. It was a humbling eye opening experience, from meeting new people, going on long road trips with them, attending house churches every Tuesday, seeing beautiful beaches, having thanks giving dinner with them, waffle fries at Chick fil A, adjusting to the food there (this was the biggest issue, yikes), learning about States to living with my lovely host mom Emily and sharing room with the sweetest roommate, every single thing was phenomenal. Each day was new. Each day taught me more about the world and about me. I deeply understood how traveling opens ones heart, broadens the human mind and fills one's life with amazing stories to tell.
From being the basic goofy hyper girl to being selected for this program to embracing this extraordinary experience, the degree of personal and professional growth I experienced is off the charts. The journey has been so enriching that I think no matter how hard I try I cannot express enough how impactful it has been for me.
UGRAD Fall 2018
Placement: Georgia College and State University
I wanted to deeply thank you for all the guidance through the process of the exchange program. I feel immensely indebted and honored that I got a chance to avail such an excellent opportunity that really helped me evolve and discover myself. I really enjoyed my journey at LUMS and cherish the memories and the friends I made there, owing all to IBA. I really hope to get more of such opportunities in the future to represent IBA.
I also won a marathon and enjoyed every bit of it. I could not have possibly given up such an opportunity that really let me acquaint a multitude of culturally and internationally diverse people. I couldn't possibly explain what I've experience as it was a lot it squeeze it into a paragraph or two but I have managed to share is just the tip of the iceberg as the experience at LUMS was overwhelmingly inexplicable.
"Life gives a chance to everyone and you will get your chance one day. Just make the most out of it."
My mother said these lines to me when I received my interview call for Undergraduate exchange program. Living on my own and exploring a new culture was my dream since childhood and now I am one of those lucky ones who got their chance to live it!
My journey started with the selection call from UGRAD and that was the best moment of my life, indeed. I went to Islamabad for my Pre-departure orientation and I met my UGRAD family for the first time. I was happy as well as scared because it was my first time outside Pakistan. With a lot of excitement and fear, I landed in Washington, DC and got a warm welcome from IREX.
The first thing I learned about American people: their punctuality. They are value time like money. They arrive punctually and expect you to do the same. We got a chance to know our Advisors and they helped us to overcome our cultural shock. Then I went on to my university (Dickinson State University). My host advisor, Wynter Miller, kindly picked us up from the regional airport on the hottest day in North Dakota.
Despite all the exposure to pop culture on TV American culture was a still a revelation for me. America is not one but a mixture of diverse cultures. I loved some of Americans habits. Americans are very tolerant and open to other cultures. They respect personal space and give you privacy. I liked the way American teachers and administration treat their students and their addressing style is highly unique.
As a fan of the book series of Harry Potter and the TV series Friends, it was my dream to see the Hogwarts Castle and the Friends Apartment. My day at universal Studios was the best day in my entire exchange. From Golden Gate Bridge to Niagara Falls, every single experience was memorable. During my 4 months stay at USA, I travelled more than 15 states and almost 30 cities. I met people from different parts of the world and got a chance to know their languages, customs, religions and cultures. Having all my travelling dream realized was absolutely magical.
Placement: Dickinson State University
I was fortunate to be selected to spend the 3rd semester of my MBA at Aix-Marseille Graduate School of Management. I never in my wildest dreams thought that I could end up representing IBA and Pakistan in France; a country I had always longed to visit.
I believe the four months I spent in France were truly enriching and surreal for me. I got to experience diversity at its best; share classroom with students from 20 different nationalities, learn from top-notch professors who were associated with companies like HP, Guerlian, Orange S.A., Total Parco, etc. And best of all - I was able to travel around Europe as well.
I got to learn so much about myself and what I was capable of. It truly humbled me as a person and I was able to understand the world with a broad perspective.
I would encourage others to go on an exchange semester and to explore that world is full of opportunities, one has to be there to fetch the right one.
Finally, I can't thank IBA International Resource Center enough for providing students like me a platform to experience the world abroad.
MBA, Batch of: 2018
IAE Aix Marseille University, France
"For, were you to count the favors of Allah, you will not be able to count them. Surely Allah is Ever Forgiving, Most Merciful." (Surah Al-Nahl, 18)
I was on the prayer mat when I missed the first interview call from USEFP. Well, they interviewed me, and I was selected and joined the 108 blessed people who represented universities from all over the country.
I got a chance to live with a lovely host family the moment I landed in Billings. The husband-wife were Oxford graduates and they not only took good care of myself as a guest, but also enriched my realms of knowledge by explaining the various cultures they experienced, discussing American politics on the dining table and the American culture in general. I went hiking and camping on the Rocky Mountains of Montana and treated myself to the wildlife in their company.
I got a chance to live with the students from Germany, England, Slovakia, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Japan, South Korea and North Korea. When I ate with them, played with them, went on events with them, and traveled with them, I learned about their not only cultures and values, but I explored myself and the values that I represented. Therefore, diversity made me learn about myself. By the way, I won the Ping-Pong tournament at my university. I made many friends through this game.
I got a chance to live with an American roommate and that made me a great fan of this argument: human nature is similar; it is the values, the culture, the practices, the dress, and the beliefs, which are different. Therefore, I experienced diversity and similarity at the same time. We both shared many personal values while belonging to different cultures.
I got a chance to travel with Pakistani neighbors to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and New York City while I went to Seattle and Portland alone. Traveling made me learn the most, as we were on our own from matching our schedules to booking those flights, from reserving the rooms to managing those finances, from fulfilling the program requirements to taking those courses, and from attending the classes to hanging out with friends. In addition, I explored myself as a person and made lifelong friends.
I got a chance to take courses related to the American values i.e. freedom of expression, freedom of media, liberty and individualism, and that educated me about these values from an American perspective. I learned how and why law that protects individuals is precedes every other state institution.
I got a chance to go Churches and learn about Christianity in general. My pre-conceived conception was that America is liberal in general and even conservatives would be liberal in some sense, but
I observed otherwise. The country gives full freedom to the religious and political conservatives of the country and that changed my perception about the US.
I got a chance to serve the local community and I interacted with people from different age groups this way. I participated in local festivals like Thanksgiving dinners and Halloween food drives and learned about the American culture. That also broadened my horizons to accept the "other".
Muhammad Souman Elah
BSSS, UGRAD fall 2018
Montana State University Billings
I have always been a strong proponent of change, as an impetus to life. However, it was in Fall'18 that I realized how difficult and challenging adjustments could be. From adapting to the true American cowboy culture in North Dakota, to pondering at the city life of New York. I went through some life-long transformations, growing out to be a more self-aware, accepting and a strong individual, now even more sensitive about my surroundings than ever before.
An exchange semester is usually thought of as living in the world of fantasies and having the best time of one's life, though for me it was the time when I learned how to deal with the utmost rough and harsh epochs of my journey all on my own. Having spent most of my life as a pampered and dependent child of my family, it was difficult to take decisions solely and doing things differently. I still wonder how I was able to pull things off, when in real all I was doing was digging in and out of not-so-pleasing-and-easily-manageable troubles. Managing trips, while striving for good grades. Fulfilling program requirements, while waiting for delayed flights. Appreciating food which I could hardly swallow. Making new friends, while delivering on my long distance family relationships back home.
Yet I managed to get the most out of this beautiful journey. I met the most hospitable people at US, got to have the best host family, friends and a super cooperative advisor. Got a chance to travel around numerous states and observe different cultures. Tried surviving on different American food, while getting to taste the American college life. Above all I learnt how to make opinions and see the world differently, with a more tolerable and broader lens. In short I had all that I could ask for from my life in terms of opportunities, relationships, independence and self-discovery. Being through the most phenomenal journey of my life, I am grateful for having given this opportunity, where I was able to live the most productive and wonderful days of my life. I relive this experience every single moment in my present, and so will it always have my heart in my future.
Abiha Zehra Rizvi
BBA-8, Program: Ugrad by USEFP
Placement: Dickinson State University. North Dakota
"From getting an unexpected call for interview to making new friends at the orientation in Islamabad, from making travelling plans to scratching things off of the bucket list, and from cherishing memorable moments with international and American friends to saying hard good-byes, the journey has been immensely exciting and enthusiastic.
This experience made me realize about what it really is to get out of a comfort zone and learn to adapt and accept. It gave me a clear notion of travelling; as it is the only thing whose excess never hurts, humanity; as it remains constant wherever you go, and freedom; whose excess can either make you or break you. I still recall my days, wandering in the dark alleys where my feet would go numb by hearing any sound, or in the busy streets of Manhattan where people-cum-robots would walk me off with an unwelcoming expression or falling from the sky smelling to high heaven. Every single moment had an eternity which I lived to the fullest. Not only did these times give me memories, they also have me reasons to be more strong, grow more resilient and expect the unexpected.
Moreover, the American culture has a lot to offer. Actually, it is not only one culture, it is a diversified set of cultures, where you find different cultures in every state. I visited more than 10 states and managed to get a sense of their cultures, and believe me when I say this, every single culture represents it's own identity and is different from every other; I was fantasized a lot with the cowboy culture of Texas though.
A very big and beautiful campus, friendly faculty and welcoming people of South were least of the oh-so-awesome things I could've ever asked for during my time at Delta State University. I still remember doing assignments during my trips, and staying up all nights to submit write-ups at the last minute, sure it was hectic but it paid off quite well and I managed to get 4.0 GPA.
To wandering in Diagon Alley for wand shopping, sleepless nights with my DSU gang, street walks in the city downtowns, mentoring middle school kids, catching deadly rides in Universal studios, 3-hour hike all the way to Hollywood sign in Los Angeles and a 15000 ft leap from the sky, I take this journey to be the best time of my life."
UGRAD Spring '18, Placement at Delta State University, Cleveland MS
The exchange was a life-changing experience would be an understatement to describe how SUSI exchange program gave me the best 6 weeks of my life. The news of being selected for the exchange totally took me by surprise and to much astonishment I was deciding if I should avail the opportunity or stay back to do my summer semester; fortunately I took the right decision. The whole program was designed in a way that we gained the most out of not the just the classroom activities but also to actually experience the authentic American life.
The summer that went by brought about the best version of me by enabling me to be myself and actually do what I would like to do irrespective of the stringent societal pressures that one usually faces back in our country. Each day of those shortest six weeks were made of new experiences from going for all-girls sunrise tour to another city, taking the most overwhelming rides at Six Flags, sitting by the river to read my favorite book to hardly getting 3 hours sleep each day to pull all-nighters at the Times Square. There have been moments when I slept with open eyes in my class to the sad memory of my paper bags tearing away in heavy rain on a muddy road to see my shopping go flat on the street right in front of my eyes.
SUSI took me to places where I wouldn't have thought of going before including a tour to the United States Capitol, Harvard University, Massachusetts State House, One World Trade Center Observatory Deck , and to an amazing Broadway show just to name a few.
The program was conducted at the University of Massachusetts (UMASS). The program was focused on studying the public policy-making process and the academic activities included various guest speaker sessions, extensive US Election campaign simulation along with classroom discussions on social and public issues. As part of the academic exposure, we were taken to meet the Massachusetts State House Representative to better understand the dynamics of US politics.
The whole SUSI program was a lavish affair where our hosts treated us like their own family. I was fortunate enough to see Boston, New York, Charlottesville, Amherst and Washington during those six weeks. Each city showed a different side of the American life but wherever I went, I met with the kindest and most welcoming people. They take it so seriously that often when we asked for the route, instead of telling us the directions they would walk us all the way to our destination! Making small-talks with strangers sitting next to you in bus, making new friends wherever you go and always being welcomed with a smile all made each moment precious.
There were 30 students selected from all over Pakistan which gave me the opportunity to meet people coming from diverse background and lifestyles. I met people from Hunza, Peshawar, Lahore and even Bannu which was at first mind-boggling for me, not because I couldn't fit in but to know that Pakistan holds extraordinary potential in places apart from the major metropolises. I made friends who I can always count on and that's the biggest asset that SUSI granted to each of the participants, life-long friendship.
Often people ask me about my trip and I usually give them a short answer for it because I'll probably not do justice if I try to put my experience into words. I thank IBA for letting me know of the opportunity and helping me out throughout the process. The application for SUSI 2019 is out again, I would really encourage everyone to apply for it because it could be the best time of your life.
18th December, on the day of my last paper, I received an email about being selected in Study of United States Institutes (SUSI) program 2017. From that day till the departure, I was so nervous and confused about living away from my family with 29 other students each representing a very diverse segment of Pakistan.
From reaching Airport six hours before my departure flight, to praying that our arrival schedule to Pakistan be delayed due to a good reason, I changed as a person. This journey of 6 weeks made me realize why is it so important for our students to go on an exchange program. It not only teaches you how to interact with people from different backgrounds, it also gives you a chance to get out of your comfort zone and show the world what potential you have got.
Being a business student by heart, studying public policy in University of Massachusetts taught me why is it essential for corporates to consider the societal impact of their actions. The most amazing thing about this program was our teachers' belief that factual learning actually comes from experiencing, rather than rote learning.
Living with student leaders, especially when all of them were distinguished achievers in their communities, was overwhelming, inspiring and joyous at the same time. From rushing to Franklin in the morning for breakfast to getting Nutella bread in my bed because of my awesome roommate, I don't remember when these students became my family, my SUSI family. The ride on which SUSI takes you is a mixture of complete American culture. From slow and calm life in suburb of Massachusetts to high paced long nights in New York, from classy capitol of Washington to vintage Charlottesville of Virginia, you get to experience the different, yet beautiful facets of US life.
It was an absolute pleasure to get selected with other 30 Undergrad students all over from Pakistan for the SUSI Exchange program. Summarizing this journey would be difficult but it was definitely life changing. I always dreamed of achieving well in life, never actually thought that my dream would come true this early.
SUSI was an entirely unique journey and for the first time I felt that the norms of the society were not dictating me. I enjoyed freedom in the smallest of things, like the liberty to travel alone, to walk around for countless of miles each day, to strike conversation with random strangers or to talk openly and share perspective even on the most sensitive topics. Those five weeks were immensely liberating for me and helped me re-discover myself. From being a girl who was always afraid to express her view, now I feel that I can raise my voice on anything that doesn't seem right to me without the fear of being "shunned" by the society.
All those different lectures regarding the Pak-US public policy concepts, exchange of ideas with the American students, the leadership sessions, scavenger hunts and the study tour impacted me deeply, enriched my knowledge and helped me in becoming a better version of myself. In this journey, I met some of the most wonderful people like the professors, mentors, my host family, and the Pakistani fellows who inspired me each and every day during the stay.
SUSI made me feel like "someone" and not just anyone. I hope that I am able to do justice to my role as a Pakistani student leader and do something substantial for the society. Thank you IBA and the US state department for this incredible opportunity.
I am glad to be a part of IBA family that provided me with many opportunities, such as being a part of Pak-US alumni network, visiting the USA through UGRAD program and countless other. Last time, I attended Meet Pakistan Conference at Islamabad where delegates from many cities of Afghanistan and Pakistan along with the officials of US-Embassy participated. The conference was organized by US Embassy Islamabad to build the connection of peace between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the USA. The focus of the conference was on building peace through arts, cultures and society. There were series of lectures, sessions, and artistic and cultural performances which enhanced my learning and networking skills.
From many key takeaways, I will highlight the prominent ones:
1. the conference made me realize the importance of building peace and maintaining relations with neighboring countries.
2. I improved my networking, social, and communication skills.
3. I learned country branding and its importance to attract tourism, investment and trade, and how national security plays a vital role in country branding.
4. A session with different renowned guests from art industry taught us Pakistan's cultural policy and its impact on our global image.
5. We also had several sessions which in depth taught us the importance of film making, music, dance, languages, tourism, and other arts in building a society and culture. And how it can affect our relations with other countries.
In future, I am looking forward to work on promoting Pakistani art and culture so that I can build a positive image of our country in the world.
"Travel early and travel often. Live abroad, if you can. Understand cultures other than your own. As your understanding of other cultures increases, your understanding of yourself and your own culture will increase exponentially" - Tom Freston
Spending a semester in the US as an exchange student exposed me to a world of opportunities that I was deprived of before. It was not just about living 8000 miles away from family, but stepping out of my comfort zone. As I met new people each day and tried to adapt to the new environment, the unconditional support of the people there made me feel at home. I learnt a great deal about the American culture, but moreover, about myself.
Being able to change people's perspective about Pakistan as the cultural ambassador, serving the less privileged community, studying courses that changed the way I look at the world, bonding with friends from around the globe, and travelling to places I only could have dreamed of, I felt so fulfilled each moment. The journey was that of an unusual transformation, of becoming bolder, stronger, more independent, more accepting of the differences and more appreciative of the similarities among us all.
The education acquired at school cannot solely make you successful. It is the opportunity to travel and interact with other cultures that makes you grow exponentially. The chances for such an exposure in Pakistan, especially for female, are very limited. However, we are fortunate to have UGRAD and IBA that offer such life-changing opportunities. I have learnt to cherish the little things in life that have motivated me to aim higher and make a significant difference in the lives of people around me in Pakistan. But a big piece of my heart will always belong to the small city in the south of Indiana - Evansville.
"'Goal-driven' & 'Passionate', these are the first few words that I would like to use to define myself. Getting into Global UGRAD exchange program was never easy for me. From writing an impressive SOP, to structuring my extra-curricular certificates, to having troubles in application submission, to managing my car glitches on the interview day, and what not. From being a national level position holder to accepting the fact that I might not graduate exactly on time was never easy. But all that paid off.
It was an amazing journey from Islamabad's pre-departure orientation, to welcome workshop at Washington DC, re-entry workshop at Utah to losing the number count of states did visited, maybe 8 or 9. All this taught me a lot, and helped me grow as a person. If I put my learning into three words, it'll be academic, cultural & personal. Being a part of dean's list at Kent State University wasn't easy, following all the academic norms & putting my best effort into understanding and adjusting myself to their academic approach took time, but that is what taught me how to excel anywhere in the world.
Culturally, celebrating their festivals like Easter, and making Americans taste Pakistani Biryani and Sheer Khorma during my country presentation helped me learning more about them and gave me an opportunity to remove misconceptions about us, if they have any. Living with an American roommate was one plus point of this program which in return brought all the micro habits of Americans into my notice which you can never find online.
Personally, travelling on my own & with other Pakistani & non-Pakistani mates was not just a fun part but a challenge too. We learnt how to budget our trips, from finding the best itinerary to searching for living space & food in other states made us actually more mature. Even in dorms also, doing our own laundry and keeping a track of our meal plan all the time in a different part of the world made us capable to be self-dependent, which is also the culture of America in some way.
Before going on this exchange I was told that 'visiting America generally and going on this exchange will be a different experience all together', which I never understood back then, but now I know why. Our requirement of country presentation, workshops in different states, local community service, & exploring six different areas of American cultural taught us something which we can never learn if we go to America just as a visitor.
If I sum up this entire journey, it wasn't just give or take but rather give and take, we Pakistani & those Americans mutually both learnt and taught about our society & culture to each other which will benefit both the countries because relations not only translate top bottom but can be bottom top as well. I personally would recommend everyone to avail this opportunity, and make the most out of it."
"I am glad that IBA gave me this opportunity to participate in COP in My City Islamabad. One key takeaway from this conference was that we haven't yet realized the repercussions of the rapid climate change and how as a nation we need to learn more about it.
It was a great experience in terms of learning how to negotiate with different interest groups and I hope to see IBA becoming more active on this front in the coming years."
"Climate change poses a clear and present threat to the entire world - yet, building consensus around global action can be tricky. For students attending the "COP in my City" conference organized at the HEC in Islamabad , this was the challenge.
Over the course of 2 days, 60 students from around 20 universities lobbied and negotiated their delegations' positions on climate change mitigation efforts - including emissions reduction, afforestation, and annual contribution to the Green Climate Fund, in line with the Paris Agreement signed at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP) in 2015. The end goal, simulated on C-Roads software ("Climate Rapid Overview and Decision Support") developed by MIT, was to limit the rise of the Earth's surface temperature to 2 degrees Celsius by the turn of the century.
At the end of the conference, IBA student Safee ul Haque (MBA-Evening), was judged "Best Negotiator" and received his award from Minister Counsellor Ms Anne Marchal, Deputy Head of the European Union Delegation to Pakistan. IBA Student Ayesha Rehman, was awarded third place
Safee, along with the second place winner, will now accompany the Pakistani Delegation to the 24th Conference of the Parties (the UN Climate Change Summit) in Poland, this December."
Safee Ul Haque
"Exchange Programs: fully funded periods of time granted to students to go party and travel in a new country. That's what most people think of exchange programs to be. And that's exactly what they are not.
Flying away from a country where you've spent most of your life, leaving behind friends and family whom you love, and saying goodbye to your comfort zone, is not easy. Simultaneously, flying to a country whose culture differs substantially from your own, staying with American host families till dorms take you in, and stepping far out of the circle of your boundaries, is not easy. But is it worth it? Absolutely!
Having spent my whole life under the wings of my father, dependency was my defining trait. And suddenly I had no idea who I was as I dragged 3 suit cases out of the airport when I only had 2 hands. The snow falling from the sky numbed my glove-covered hands as I juggled between dragging my luggage, appreciating the beauty of my first ever snow, and realizing that I've finally made it to the States.
America gave me an identity, one that I never knew I could have. The ability to figure myself out was granted to me by all the opportunities the country had to offer. America was not the kindest to me, and it shouldn't have to be. I arrived in the United States with quite a few people, but had to leave for Plattsburgh, New York on my own. And I was nervous about that. But when I reached the airport, I found out that my flight from Boston to Plattsburgh was cancelled and rescheduled for three days later. And I had to manage in Boston for 3 days, all by myself. Even today, I can remember my heart jumping out of its place at the thought of managing on my own. But to my own surprise, I figured it out.
When I came to Plattsburgh and moved into my dorm, I learned to do laundry for the first time. I had no idea where the detergent was supposed to go, which setting the clothes were supposed to be washed on, etc. But the simple act of being able to figure it all out on my own, without my mother yelling instructions at me, made me feel free.
In addition to these small self-sufficient acts, SUNY Plattsburgh, my university, offered me courses outside the realm of the traditional world. Out of the 500 options I had, I picked Bluegrass Music and Acting. These courses were far away from what I had ever been offered in schools in Pakistan. Needless to say, these benefitted me the most. My knowledge was no longer limited to the theories of marketing and the rules of Finance; I now knew so much more about my other talents - who knew I could suddenly distinguish between the sounds of 5 instruments playing a melody.
The teachers that taught us our courses were also invested in us. Their goal was to ensure we understood - the grade came with effort. It was less about what I got in the quiz and more about how much I gauged. Projects were more practical, less monotonous. Teachers invited the class to coffee and discussed life - travels, passions, dreams. They wanted to make us knowledge beings, not information-fed robots. This kind of system was new to me, coming from a grade-driven environment. Safe to say, I still scored a 4.0 and this GPA is truly representative of what I learnt.
Traveling was another aspect of this exchange program that predominantly changed me. Traveling alone, figuring out luggage policies, arranging accommodation, managing food, smiling in the face of any inconveniences, was all new to me. Viewers on my social media saw me at Disney, smiling into a camera with Micky Ears on my head. I saw myself at Disney, smiling despite the long hours of flights that I had to take right after my class ended on campus. Viewers saw me on the streets of LA, posing next to the cherry blossom trees. I saw myself on the streets of LA, walking for long, painful hours to get to my destinations only so I could stay within my budget. No one could see the struggle, mostly because I refused to show. People back at home often messaged, asking me how my 'trip' was going; no one knew I sat in the library studying for a midterm so I could pack later and take a flight right after the exam.
The entire experience was added to by the kind Americans I came across. My host family, Melissa and David, were gems. From taking me skiing to calling me over to their condo; from having breakfast with me to taking me to Burlington; from spending time with me to loving me unconditionally - they did it all. They didn't point out what I looked like, how I dressed, how different I seemed to be from the traditional American. But does this mean no one there was mean and uncooperative? Of course not. But these people were balanced by the kind souls doing everything to make me, an exchange, feel at home.
I could complain about what all I had to manage - but I won't. How else would I learn stress management? My university had kept me stress free in areas other than academics, enough so I could focus on other stresses in life, without worrying about admin issues, commonly found in universities back at home; without worrying about walking back alone later at night, a common fear back at home.
But all that is great. I can do laundry, I can walk around on my own, but where does it get tough? It gets tough when you have 5 assignments, 2 midterms, 3 club meetings, travel plans, IREX requirements and you have to prioritize and meet deadlines. That's what makes you want to run to your mom and cry. But you learn to suck it up and push through. It gets tough when you're feeling sick and don't want to get out of bed, and you'd give anything for your mother's warm hug. But you learn to make do with the comforter.
Would I change any of the experiences I've had? No. I'm no longer the person I was when I first landed in the United States. I'm so much more. I'm anti-racism, I'm a changed opinion, I'm a fleeting thought, I'm homesickness, I'm motivation, I'm change, I'm that voice in the back of my head that tells me that I will survive, no matter where I am."
"As part of our collaboration with Bilkent University in Turkey, we send students as exchange students every year. In Spring 2018, 3 candidates successfully managed to get admissions.
Here is a testimonial of their experience:
"The idea 'You should never stop dreaming' is something that I strongly believed in. 1 year ago when I was applying for IBA, I dreamt of not just getting into this prestigious institute, but also scoring enough in studies so that I could qualify for exchange, to represent IBA and Pakistan at an international level.
Fast forward 12 months and here I am back to Karachi after completing my semester exchange program from Turkey's best University. Alhumdulillah.
Bilkent University provided me the right learning environment, having high standards of education. During my 4.5 months, I made connections with people from more than 15 countries. This diverse network of people comprises of students, professors and also Turkish industry leaders, enabling me to start a journey of endless growth.
Previously I was not comfortable with traveling, infact I was afraid. But this opportunity made me meet with inspiring people who encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone. I started with desire to visit 10 cities across Turkey, however by the end of semester I fortunately completed visiting 17. Yes, 17 cities! with full course load, so I learned time management.
Exchange experience enriched me with so much confidence, that I started my YouTube channel and Facebook page where I have variety of videos showing life as an exchange student in Turkey, and have so far gotten a total of 50,000+ views. (www.Fb.com/Aligopoly1)
IBA's international resource center is doing an amazing job by creating remarkable opportunities for all of us. All we need to do is Show up! Give our very best! and make the most of life in IBA."
"My journey to London was just magnificent. Not only did I learn a great deal about travelling, but I was also able to recognize my true self and unlock my potential. Studying and roaming around with people from different walks of life felt like an exquisite experience that I can not describe in words. I can feel the positive change that this exposure has brought in me. My perception of living abroad changed quite as much, I noticed that the people of London were extremely helpful and polite.
Regarding the Warwick summer school, it had amazing teachers with tremendous knowledge and their teaching style was superb. Moreover, Warwick Summer School made us enjoy to the fullest as there were exciting events almost everyday. Lastly, London is itself a place where you can never get bored, it has the best subway system in the world so I didn't need to think twice before going anywhere."
"This two-week summer enterprise program has given me an unparalleled exposure to one of the most diverse and successful nations of the world. It was a life changing experience as it gave me a chance to interact with people from 17 different countries and make new friends from all over the world. Everyday started with a new buzz to learn something from my peers in "breakfast circles" as we cherished the stories and insights shared in those 30 minutes of our vibrant mornings. Waking up after those tiring, long evening trips was a demanding task but none of us wanted to miss those inspiring morning lectures or the insightful chats with notable entrepreneurs. I benefitted from an enriching combination of lectures, ideation and pitching, and the visits to various corporate and government organizations. From delicious food to friendly locals, Singapore offers a rich cultural diversity and a unique sense of inclusiveness. And had they not been so friendly, I would not have been able to figure out my way back to the dorm ever!
I was particularly enthralled by how Singapore has managed to efficiently use its scarce resources like water and land, to gain optimality and to improve not only the standard of living but also, to strengthen its position as an economic hub. Despite of its small capacity, Singapore successfully competes with larger economies of the world, which gave me a clear message that limitations cannot become an impediment if the road map to the destination is precisely defined."
Kiran Muhammad Idris
"First of all, thanks to Institute of Business Administration (IBA) for giving me opportunity to attend exchange program from University of Malaya (UM). It is pleasure for me that I got chance to represent my country, IBA and my culture. I don't think I will ever forget this experience, reason behind this is I met people with different culture and different taste and got chance to make friends from all over the world at one place that was UM. It looks like I found culture of whole world at one place. This journey was of 4.5 months but it looks like IBA and UM made it a decade."
SOHAIL WAHID BUX
"It all starts somewhere. You pack your suitcase, you say goodbye, you forget at least 3 things that are important, and you get on a plane... to fly away from what you have known as home your whole life. Growing up in a small town I never thought I could make it this far. I was a shy girl with her own views about world, It was until I went to states. Traveling changes you, there is no doubt in that. Someone rightly said that, "Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow." I am not the same anymore, USA has become a part of me. It's strange because when you go on exchange program it's like you build a whole new life from scratch, you get a family, school, friends everything. You learn to get out of your comfort zone, you learn to be independent and for me I also learnt to be myself. Being raised in Pakistan, society always had a say in what I should do, how I should dress and where I should go. But when I was in USA, I traveled alone, I made friends from all over the world, And it was then when I realized that the worst thing you can do to yourself is to pretend to be someone you are not. My world has been expanded significantly and with it I have expanded as a person. I am much more self aware and already feel more confident and independent than when I left USA. And it's just heart breaking to leave the friends you made, but at the end you have the memories you could cherish for life."
Syeda Fizza Ali
"My experience with UGRAD Exchange Program was nothing but positive and highly motivated. This program was an amazing experience not only stick to the academics but also traveling and exploring USA.I am totally changed and can differentiate myself before and after this program. I took the full advantage of this because i knew that it is the one and only chance to make the most of it and this opportunity can never come in your life again.
When I reflect on my experience as a Gadsden State Community College student and cultural ambassador, one of the first words that come to mind is personal. It was easy to quickly form friendships with the other design students who shared most of my classes. Not only were these relationships fun, but they were very useful as a networking tool to be more successful in my career. Being a part of Gadsden College, I felt each of my professors truly cared about helping me achieve my goals, both in my class and in starting my career. Community service projects, participation in International club and circle-K club helped me to enrich my leadership skills and to create positive impact in the society.
Now I am considering myself as groomed and confident not because of going to USA but what I have brought and will back to my country is "change" .For me "change is not to change others but to look back and help others to move forward". UGRAD program was really a wonderful experience though it was short but this program gave me memories, some good friends, national and international, title of Cultural ambassador, and every single need that i wanted."
Gadsden state community college, Gadsden, Alabama
"A journey to the liberals Land, United States of America:
I have a dream to visit almost every country in the world. I got an opportunity to visit a country which was on the top of the list. It started with the feelings of happiness as the dream was coming true, and it ended with the mixed feelings. I wanted to come back, but I didn't want to leave that place.
Being an extrovert, I made a lot of international friends from almost 27 different countries. In the US, almost everyone in the UGRAD batch was traveling within groups, whereas I thought to travel alone. Traveling alone was the best part of my exchange journey. I came across different cultures and technologies. I learned a lot and built a different capacity in me. I found the ways, to cut the cost, and enjoy the maximum I could. I found different websites like Couch Surfing etc. where people host you for a couple of days, and I saved my living expenses. This hosting has helped me to be friend with random individuals and families.
At the end of my journey, I realized that I should give more time to myself than anyone else. I was not much interested in English literature, I started taking interest in the literature. I didn't have the reading habit, I started reading books and novels. I took more interest in education than before.
My journey to the US has built my academic and intellectual capacity."
Sanjay Puri Bawo
"Every moment of my semester in U.S has provided me with a wonderful memory. people, places and customs, everything was unfimiliar for me at the start and it seemed like I've started a new life. But it was this newness of my surroundings that made my experience so precious. I did not only make friends from all over the world, but also got an undertnding of their cultures. For most of them, I was the first pakistani they ever met and it was a privilege for me to be a cultural ambassador. Before leaving home, I didn't expect much hospitality from U.S but when I reached there, I was delighted to see how some American families organised dinners just for international students and opened their homes to strangers.
Travelling to different states in U.S, meeting new people and getting to know more about their lives was a unique experience for me. I saw the respect for humanity and importance of consent at every point. I experienced the cultural differences between Pakistan and U.S which made me see pros and cons of both societies.
I was placed in Bennett College, North Carolina. I conducted a country presentation for over 100 people from my town and I was surprised to see their curiosity for my culture.
I would advise all the future ugradians to explore as much as you can because this exchange will make you learn things that will help you throughout your life.
"My Exchange Experience at the Global UGRAD Exchange Program:
There is a famous qoute that says, " life isn't measured by the breaths we take but by the moments that take away our breath." This quote defines my UGRAD experience, the American Dream of a brown girl.
I still clearly remember the day I got to know about my selection, I was so overwhelmed that I cried. I was hit with the feeling of excitement along with fear. The girl who'd never traveled alone before, the girl who had no idea how to live without her family, the girl who'd sat in the place just once before, was all set to go to a foreign country that was literally seven seas across.
USA gave me so much to cherish. Friends, memories, confidence, tolerance and more than anything, acceptance.
I experienced my first ever snowfall in USA and sat on my first roller coaster too.
From the mesmerizing Grand Canyon to the breathtaking Skyscrapers of Chicago, from the happening Bourbon Street of New Orleans to the beautiful beaches of Miami, from the nightlife of the City of sins to the snow blizzard at NYC, the City that never sleeps, from the awestrucking Universal Studios in Orlando to the enchanting Disneyland in LA, I lived my life to the fullest in the last few months.
This unforgettable journey of laughter and tears, of overcoming my fears, of self discovery, of self development, of experiences that changed me into a completely new person.
My experience at Alcorn State University was a roller coaster ride, full of thrill, fear and excitement. I faced challenges at the start to adjust but when I finally started feeling at home, I had to come back.
I met people who belonged to different colors, races and religions. I experienced diversity to its fullest.
It was a pleasure to tell people about my country and to clear their misconceptions. It was hilarious to know that people thought Pakistan was in Middle East and that we were all about burqa-cladden women and guns. We showed them the positive image of Pakistan and the cultures that we hold so close to our hearts. They loved our Sindhi Ajrak, our Khussas, our parandas and our pretty traditional jewelry.
Alcorn gave me so much, friends for life, moments that I shall forever cherish and exposure that has prepared me for the practical life ahead of me.
The outside world is full of surprises for us and I believe most of them are pleasant ones. So to everyone out there, apply to exchange programs because its totally worth it. It changes your life in so many ways that words might not be enough to describe. Go discover yourselves, go travel and face your fears because life is too short to not do all this."
"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."
"And that is quite literally what happened. Growing up, I was an introvert who had never been away from family or close friends as such. I was living in my own bubble in Pakistan. Some 7000 miles away from home, is where I discovered a part of me that I barely knew existed.
I gathered confidence to talk to people who were in all sense different to me. But in the process is sharing cultures, we developed friendships that transcended those differences.
I got to taste independence in its truest sense, where I had to look after my own self, from doing grocery to laundry, and where I also had to tackle and solve every problem on my own. I learnt how to stand up on my own feet and live my life on my own terms.
For someone who had never flown in a plane before, flying to the U.S. was a dream. And like all dreams, it wasn't always perfect. Fear was always there, but so was the excitement and thrill for an adventure and thirst for learning.
I've literally transformed as a person, that too in a positive way, from the person that got on the place 5 months ago"
"My experience at Juniata College has changed my views on my own life, future aspirations, and our society in a way that I never imagined. I'd say my time was spent equally with the international students and American students at my college which has exposed me to more than one culture in this cultural exchange experience. At the end I can only say that I would give anything to go back, and to those who will go after me, make the most of your time; you won't regret it. :)"
"I have a confession. I am in love. Yes, I am in love! I am in love with the Global UGRAD exchange experience which changed my life completely. I am amazed by how much I have achieved. I was placed in Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts. "Crazy" is the word I would chose to describe my exchange experience. It has shaped part of my character as I have noticed growth in my confidence and independence. I have found out that I am capable of coping with different situations, more open to new things and step outside my comfort zone. I had a great opportunity to make a life-lasting friendship and travel. I met new people, made new friends and explored new cultures. I now have friends from China, Japan, Taiwan, Belize, Cambodia, London and of course America. As a Pakistani ambassador in US, initially I was overwhelmed to know that I was a first Pakistani in Bridgewater State University. However, I represented Pakistan on different platforms and events and eventually learned that people were keen to learn about my culture. Bridgewater State University made me feel like a family and not an outsider and within a first few weeks I realized that I had a family there. My exchange experience was a huge success as it changed me completely and made me more focused on the goals I should achieve. It was a journey of self-discovery and personal growth with unforgettable memories. Before exchange, I had never seen a snow. It was indeed a spectacular and amazing experience to see how fluffy the snow was! When I reminisce these 5 months I have spent in US and see the pictures, I cannot wipe off the smile from my face. I hope that rest of my year will be just as wonderful and inspires other potential exchange students to gain this experience of a lifetime."
Hira Abdul Aziz
"My name is Sana Mubashira, and I am currently enrolled in the B.Sc Computer science program at IBA, Karachi. After doing my A levels, I was very determined to be a part of an institution that not only provides a platform to achieve academic objectives, but also groom it students to enter the professional world. My academic objectives were to pursue a doctoral program in computer technologies that would revolutionize the healthcare industry, and IBA was that first milestone towards my goal.
I not only intended to use IBA as a platform to steer my career, but also to groom myself for the challenges life has to offer in the professional world. I took part in various social events, and participated in various extracurricular activities, interacting with people of different backgrounds to experience, and enjoy diversity within. I truly mean it when I say, 'IBA is a land of opportunities'. During my third year, I got the chance to apply for the semester exchange program at USA, sponsored by IREX, and successfully got selected. Little did I know that I would have the time of my life. I was lucky enough to study in two different universities of U.S. Mississippi Valley State University, and California State University-Monterey Bay. Got the chance to represent Pakistan at an international level, and experience U.S culture at the same time.
Initially it was difficult to adjust in the new environment, with people of different backgrounds, but eventually everything started making sense. I made so many friends on campus, loved when it showered every other day, admired how this country has maintained its tradition of discipline and neat environment, and most of all fell in love with the American food. This was an experience that can never be taken from me! I had the chance to study in a new environment and learn about differences between cultures, which are necessary in this time of globalization. As an exchange student, I got the chance to prove myself capable of coping with different situations, and was also a great opportunity to make life-lasting friendships and travel.
In this course of exchange program, I got closer towards achieving my academic goals. It broadened my horizons by interacting with students and faculties in the U.S.A as as all the major advancements in the field of computer science have originated from the U.S universities and corporations. It also provided me a chance to exchange ideas and to explore technologies being developed in the USA for healthcare, helping me determine the direction of my specialization in my doctoral program. Being a woman, it also provided an opportunity for me to break the barriers of discrimination against women and to benefit from the academic and cultural advancements in the USA. I never thought life would be so amazing. All this wouldn't have been possible if I were not in IBA. After Allah, and my parents I owe my success to IBA. I look forward to achieving million more milestones, inshaAllah."
"Never did I thought in life that I would land into a country which would show me the other side of the world in terms of highest integrity amongst people. Can you guess? Yes, that's none other than Japan. I believe it would never have been possible to get a visa for Japan if I had not been invited for an international conference by GNLF team. So, yes, I consider it a true blessing to be selected as a very first participant from Pakistan in one of the best student-run international conferences held in Japan, i.e. Global Next Leaders Forum (GNLF).
Global Next Leaders Forum (GNLF) is one of the largest international conferences in Japan that is organized by the students of the top-ranked university of Japan i.e. University of Tokyo. Each year, this leadership conference offers an ideal platform for a cross-generational and cross-cultural dialogue. Around 30 students and professors from top universities worldwide attend this conference and get the opportunity to interact with like-minded intellectual people from different backgrounds to discuss the challenges, opportunities, and strategies to overcome the challenges of unique topics discussed every year.
The conference this time around was held under the theme of "Sustainability" and its impact on businesses in the future. Leading experts from various fields engaged the students in discussions about new innovative ideas and the importance of a good business mind. We got the insights of how the huge corporations of the tech world went about their work. We were also given an opportunity to be part of different business workshops and discuss our ideas with the bright minds from 12 different countries. I am delighted that I was granted the opportunity to represent IBA and Pakistan at this great international forum. I am very thankful to IBA for making me what I am today.
What I really liked was the respect, integrity and a personalized attention given to each participant by GNLF team members. Apart from arranging a wonderful conference, the team had also arranged city tours of Yokohama and Tokyo for us to experience the great atmosphere in Japan. Asakusa in Yokohama was one of my favorite visits as it represented the real Japanese culture. Then in Tokyo, Skytree was the best place to visit as we could view the beauty of Tokyo from top of the tower. We also had a visit to the fascinating Yokohama Museum where we learnt the history of Yokohama port establishment. These tours made my trip even more memorable.
To say the least, this conference was an experience which was beyond just academic learning. I came back with an inspiring experience, countless memories and friendships in different parts of the world."
Global Next Leaders Forum (GNLF) in Yokohama and Tokyo, Japan
"Participating in Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2016 (GES) held at Stanford University in Silicon Valley, California was unique and great experience. In GES, There were around 1500 Entrepreneurs, Investors and Seed Angels coming from all corners of the world. That also included the participation of US President Barack Obama, US Secretary of State John Kerry, US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, CEO of Google, Founder of Linkedin, Founder of Facebook, Founder and CEO of Uber, Airbnb, Microsoft, etc.
A clear example of this was found in Silicon Valley where thousands of firms have achieved success. With that in mind, what better place to gather entrepreneurs at all stages of business development for the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES). The Summit was 7th installment in a series previously hosted by the United States and the governments of Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Morocco, and Kenya. In bringing the Summit back to the United States, President Obama highlighted his commitment to building bridges that would help us tackle global challenges together.
GES 2016 aimed to showcase inspiring entrepreneurs and investors from around the world creating new opportunities for investment, partnership, and collaboration; connect American entrepreneurs and investors with international counterparts to form lasting relationships; and highlight entrepreneurship as means to address some of the most intractable global challenges. Hosting GES in Silicon Valley highlighted America's entrepreneurial spirit and allow American investors and entrepreneurs to see the talent, solutions, and opportunities that exist globally.
The summit included a wide range of workshops, panels, ignite talks, pitch competitions, mentoring, and networking sessions aimed to give participants tailored opportunities to gain skill and relationships that would help their ventures grow. Within the Summit there were demonstration areas, experiential learning exhibitions, and opportunities to connect with industry experts."
Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2016 (GES) at Stanford University in Silicon Valley, California, USA
"I went to USA in the spring of 2016 through the United State Education Foundation's Global Undergraduate exchange program. I was enrolled at Emporia State University in Emporia Kansas. Emporia is a small city of 25,000 people between relatively larger cities of Wichita and Topeka; the state capital. Being a college town Emporia mostly attracted students or people who contributed to the school in some capacity. My college had an enrollment of 7000 students at the time and about 1% students were internationals belonging to all the different continents and countries of the world including but not limited to Japan, China, Tunisia, France, Paraguay, India, Syria, Kenya, Georgia, Netherlands, Germany, Iraq, Estonia and so many more. I learned about the presence of many countries in the world upon making friends at Emporia state for example I had never heard about a country in Europe with a population of only 1 million, it's called Estonia. Now I have a friend who lives there!
My advice to future UGrad students is that you are very lucky to have been given this opportunity. Be a good representative of Pakistan abroad. Behave well. Be polite. Follow the rules but also, Take risks, face your fears, and meet at least one new person every day and listen to their story. Don't laze around, experience everything. This is the best time for you to discover your own strengths and weaknesses. Live it to the max!"
"This journey will always be counted as one of my most wonderful experiences, where I happen learn new cultures, experienced being part of new environment, made some new friends across globe and while all this, I came to know new things about yourself.
For me the journey started form the very first day, when I received my first congratulatory email from USEFP Cultural exchange department. It surely been first of it kind of opportunity. Almost everyone who was selected had same kind of feeling like you start making plans for after arrival, begin to try to put in best of you, looking out closely to all the legal procedures and hoping nothing goes wrong but with all the certainty that life can play around. To the one who are being fervent over been selected in coming terms must also be having or going to have such feelings, which is totally normal yet frustrating. First, try to calm yourself and start to prepare for a period, which for most people going to be most ambivalent time of their life.
If I look at these past months, which I wonder have went away very quickly, were full of fascinating experiences, breathtaking adventures, thunders of excitement which occasionally burst inside; especially for the food which you come to love there. One important idea, which I want to instill is to realize that being privileged to be of any worth to anyone, will always going to be one of the best feelings that most of people going to experience in this exchange, which also ought to be basic purpose of all this journey. From my personal experience, making and serving dinner for the local homeless community to making shoes, for the children living thousands of miles away in Africa, which made me believe in my capabilities and created sense of social responsibility within me. I hope that it will also bring out such sense of belonging to the society."
"Opportunities this magnificent pop up around once in your life. And because that is the case, they come with all sorts of fears and reservations. You would never expect yourself to get selected. Once you do, you it seems too good to be true. You think about things that can go wrong and just find yourself paying meticulous attention to every detail to ensure everything goes right.
One the afternoon of the 3rd of January 2016, I boarded a flight bound to Dubai and one experience paved for another which accumulated to being the best experience of my life. The United States of America fully lived up to its label of being the land of dreams. A place where anything was possible, a ticket to doing just about anything in your wildest dreams. In my case it involved travelling to 42 states, getting to roam around the most fascinating cities, and studying in one of the finest education systems the World has to offer.
Four months, twenty-one flights, countless memories and souvenirs, and a 4.0 GPA later, I'm back with a message for all. Your dreams are yours to fulfil. And even the most impossible of aspirations can be achieved if one has a will, and an opportunity."
Ahmed Mustafa Khan
Global UGRAD Exchange Program Student in St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, Minnesota, USA
"Exchange was a metamorphic experience as it changed my perspectives and made me an open-thinker. My stay at Concord University, West Virginia was amazingly enchanting. Studying in an international institution with students from all over the world was a great window to reach out to people belonging from different race, gender and ethnicity and even different countries. It's all about how you gain respect and love from the people who belong to different corners of the world.
During this program, cultural exchange taught me how things can be done in different ways and how to deal with diversity. I also got a chance to represent Pakistan by giving a presentation, along with my other Pakistani mates, which was attended by a large number of audience. We shared our culture by cooking traditional food, exhibiting traditional clothes, showing beautiful and scenic pictures of Pakistan. It was a real pleasure to listen people how their views changed for Pakistan in a positive way after the presentation.
I have friends from different parts of the world and its feels great to be able to call them friends for life. It is because of this opportunity that I have learnt to trust my instincts and to be on my own without any fear. Planning trips and traveling to different states came as a challenge as it was my first time living all on my own. I learnt how to embrace myself for who I am before worrying about what people would think of me.
Global UGRAD program on a whole was an amazing experience. It has given me memories to cherish for the rest of my life and made me even more strong and confident than before."
Mehvish Naseer Cheema
Global UGRAD Pakistan 2015
"I was selected for Global UGRAD Pakistan Exchange program for the term Spring 2016. I have had a great learning experience abroad which opened up my mind and changed my perspective.
I was fortunate to be placed at Endicott College in Massachusetts which is considered one of the best placements in all regards. One of the best memory for me was attending Harvard Model United Nations. I was selected by my host university to represent their delegation at Harvard Model United Nations. Moreover, they funded the entire trip to Boston. I made a lot of international friends and spoke in front of one of the biggest committee (SOCHUM) comprised of 200+ delegates. It was a great learning experience.
Throughout my exchange experience I was able to execute my interpersonal skills in sharing my identity as a Pakistani. I was engaged in various activities arranged by Intercultural club at Endicott during the semester. Not only this, I took part in a virtual exchange program established under the joint collaboration of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and United Nations Habitat Committee on behalf of Endicott College.
This international experience gave me an insight about how different cultures are distinct and unique in their own way. I miss all my international friends and Endicott College. A proud Global UGRAD alumnus."
Syed Irtiza Ali
I feel very lucky to have been selected for the Erasmus Plus Masters in Mathematical Modelling program. The international experience it will provide is one of the best parts of this master program; especially sharing a classroom with classmates from around the world every day. Traveling to a different country in Europe and a new university there after every semester will also give me the opportunity to get to know the various study environments, cultures, societies, languages, people, and last but not the least, myself. In my opinion this moving around part is what makes Erasmus so special and worth it. I would really suggest everyone to apply this year for that single reason alone, not even mentioning the other benefits of studying at world-class institution.
Muneera Nizam Sajwani
Three weeks of my summer this year in Beijing, China at Tsinghua University's PBCSF Summer School were the days of unique and interesting experiences. Meeting people from 27 different countries, roaming around the streets of an old and famous city of a new country, travelling in the busy subways and buses of Beijing and visiting all the city attractions from the Forbidden City to the Beijing Zoo and THE GREAT WALL. Each day had to offer so much in terms of friendships, travelling and beautiful Chinese culture, language and cuisine.
It was an exceptional opportunity to study in a school of China's oldest University, ranked 5th best in Asia where the lectures and seminars were conducted by the professionals from People's Bank of China and professors from Tsinghua University making it an extremely fulfilling academic experience.
Being one of the only two people from Pakistan as well as South Asia and representing IBA at this Finance and Economics Summer School was indeed an extraordinary opportunity and I am glad that IBA chose me for it. It was a journey which helped me develop confidence and poise and see my potential and opened up for me an entire new world of learning and adventure!
It was a great honor to attend the summer school "Financial Leaders of Tomorrow 2016" organized by Tsinghua University, PBC School of Finance. The two week school was attended by 60 students representing a total of 27 countries and their respective leading universities. The program offered me valuable academic insights with lectures covering Chinese culture, economic environment and financial markets along with a corporate visit. It helped me understand how Chinese economy grew exponentially over the past few decades and its transition towards a market economy. Perhaps the best part of this program was the opportunity to connect with students from different academic and cultural backgrounds while allowing me to represent my own. Moreover, exploring the city of Beijing, where its rich history runs in parallel with the vibrant mix of modernity and development, was a delightful experience. The cultural and academic discourse gave me the much needed exposure which will definitely help me in my career. I would very much like to thank IBA, especially the NTHP office and the external linkages department for the moral and financial support in providing me this opportunity.
The London School of Economics was everything I was hoping for. It couldn't be better! It has the most amazing campus facilities, leading faculty and a diverse student body. My course was full of challenging content and contemporary relevance that made me enjoy learning! I was exposed to a variety of insights and opinions, formed friendships and networks that span the globe. Moreover the social program was just perfect! LSE, being in the heart of central London gave me a chance to enjoy this vibrant historic city by organizing trips to the theatre, Cambridge and Oxford along with the ever-popular Thames river cruises. I met people from all around the world and it was truly a rewarding experience.
Travelling makes you modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in this world and help you understand the world with a broad perspective. I am Rija Arslan Adhami from Bs. Accounting and Finance. I was a Spring 2016 candidate of Global UGRAD Program USA. I am really obliged to IBA and USEFP for making my hard work pay off. Being placed in Grand Valley State University, Allendale Michigan I have been among the few luckiest students of IBA. One thing that I have truly understood is that no place is ever as bad as they tell you it's going to be. I have found USA extremely welcoming and have found amazing friendships. Inspite of being a hijabi I was not at all discriminated or looked upon with hateful eyes. I lived on campus with my four suitemates. We used to have a wonderful time with each other although all of us belonged to different parts of the world, me being a Pakistani, a British, other two Americans, and a Mexican. We shared each other's happy, sad, angry and depressed moments. We used to have meals together with me being a vegetarian because of the Halal food and they being respecting me for my religious beliefs. They were always very generous of my praying timings and food choices. Before going to USA I was hit with much criticism such as being a Muslim girl going so far away alone or that American hate Muslims and all that bogus ideas that both the Medias have penetrated in the minds of public. But the reality turned out to be similar what my mother told me before going. She told me that: Rija respect and kindness is the key to mold every heart towards you against all kinds of differences. And that is what helped. All of my professors at USA, my fellow participants, my advisors and my roommates all of them respected my differences because I respected theirs. That's how the world moves on. You need to share and accept. The journey was smooth and amazingly adventurous with me exploring the whole United States and being in the Dean's List Holder of GVSU. And IBA for sure holds a major part of my success. I have lived an undeniable part of my life in these months that has changed me in the most positive ways.
Rija Arslan Adhami
It was a wonderful experience of learning by participating a three weeks course in an Italian University, Fondazione CUOA, located at Vicenza, Italy. The course was perfectly organized by International Business School, Sao Paulo, Brazil. There were 109 students from all over the world and they participated in four different courses;
1. International Management and Leadership
2. Creativity, Innovation & New Businesses
3. Business Strategy & Marketing Management
4. Operations, Logistics & Lean Management
Following is the brief of experience gained during the International Management and Leadership course;
Academics: During the course, It was a great learning of global management and leadership. The course was full of practical learning activities which helped in building the key concepts of becoming a successful global leader. The Program had two unique visits, one was visit to World Trade Organization (WTO), Geneva, Switzerland and the other one was a visit to United Nations (European Headquarter), Geneva, Switzerland.
Social and Cultural aspects: There was a participation of students from 16 countries, representing almost all continents of the world. It was a wonderful experience of sharing, living and studying with different cultures of the world which helped in increasing the knowledge of different styles of workplaces and cultures. The course also included the visit to Italian fashion district of Milan and big companies which included, Stevenato Group, The United Colors of Benetton, Loison, etc.
Logistics: The travelling during the whole course was very pleasant and smooth. It was very well organized by the IBS. There was no issue in visa process as both IBA and IBS provided recommendation letters to Italian Consulate.
Social Events: The inauguration and closing ceremonies were beyond expectations. The inauguration ceremony was followed by a very decent dinner. But the last ceremony where the participants were awarded with certificates, was an unforgettable event. The last ceremony was live broadcasted on internet.
In the end I will like to thank the team of IRC department of IBA which really helped in the whole process of joining the course and the whole team of IBS and Fondazione, CUOA for organizing such a remarkable course.
My special thanks to Mr. Saleem Umer (Program Director, EMBA) who has really done a wonderful job in building the confidence of EMBA students and leading EMBA towards the core programs of IBA.
It was an excellent experience studying Strategic Marketing Course at Imperial College in their Summer School Program, 2015. The robust start of the program until the end was an exciting journey full of learning, hard work, practical exposure of corporate life through various guest-speaker sessions and visits to places like Museum of Brands, National Theatre, Royal Albert Hall, Wimbledon and Chelsea to blend theory with practice. I also got to work on a challenging yet exciting group project by assuming the role of a marketing consultancy to introduce a new product in a new market. Another exciting part is the access to Imperial College Online Portal for a year for any learning material, vacancies etc.
My journey in IBA couldn't get any better than getting a chance for one Semester Exchange program in USA. Someone said it right that Exchange isn't a semester in your life it's Life in one semester! It really was a life changing and mesmerizing experience in Delta State University, Cleveland, MS, USA. It made me realize who I really am. It brought a lot of changes in me personally as well as professionally. It groomed me as a person inside out.
This experience taught me building new friendships, taking responsibility of myself, respecting differences and accepting the beliefs of others. And while exploring and learning about the lives of others, I discovered new aspects of myself too. Travelling through different states, engaging with people from diverse backgrounds, exploring US Culture and getting familiar with educational environment of USA was really an astounding and eye opening experience for me. This exchange gave me a chance to break some stereotypes Americans have for us and also, we have for Americans. It also made me passionate to make my country a better place and develop its dynamics.
Leaving the familiar behind and plugging into the unknown makes you learn about the world in a way that books, school, assignments and professional career can never reveal. I recommend every student to go on an exchange program once during their life.
"The three week course at Imperial College London was nothing short of an exhilarating maze of events that encompassed learning from world-renowned professors, interaction with students from more than 60 countries round the globe as well as getting culturally familiar with the sights and sounds of London. This trip provided me the opportunity to get an in-depth knowledge of "Business Strategy and Consulting" through lectures from industry experts and a hands-on experience in devising BMW's strategy for the year 2020. This programme allowed me to study core business issues facing modern organizations and how firms attain sustainable competitive advantage through the formulation of a core business strategy. Furthermore, guest speakers from prominent consultancy firms were brought in to familiarize us with consulting practice and with the management of projects. Working in collaboration with the brightest minds at one of the top ten universities in the world allowed me to work in a highly stimulating environment and to challenge myself every day. I would like to thank IBA for giving me the opportunity to be a part of such a rousing experience. It was truly amazing!"
I believe that the UGRAD program is the best platform for Pakistani students to counter stereotypes about Pakistan which are reflected in the Western media. This is more so owing to the way the program is designed-such as the requirements for country presentation and community service- which provides students the opportunities to project the passion and the social activism of the youth of this country. Moreover, the cultural interaction also challenges the stereotypes Pakistani students harbour about Americans.
Not only is UGRAD an excellent opportunity to enjoy all the leisure and academic benefits of a study-abroad program, the constant role of being a "cultural ambassador" comes with its own benefits. Being a cultural ambassador, I became more aware of our (Pakistani) cultural identity and felt a sense of pride in being a Pakistani in ways that I had never before. At the same time, interaction with other international students and learning about their culture made me more open minded- at once I was both a Pakistani and a global citizen.
Moreover, with a strong alumni network, I am sure that I will continue to benefit from my participation as well as explore ways to contribute towards the socioeconomic progression in Pakistan. I highly encourage all my fellow IBA students to apply!
"An opportunity to go under an exchange program is an opportunity that would give your life a 360 degree turn." This is what I had heard from exchange students earlier. Little did I know that it would be a similar experience for me, giving me the best time of my life that anyone could ask for. Experiencing diversity, traveling all over USA with friends and my host family, and meeting people from different parts of the world gave a first-hand experience to me to know other countries and their cultures. And thinking about having friends from all parts of the world, be it America, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, or any other, you get a different feeling of accomplishment already. This exchange program not only helped me to groom myself but also gave me a new way of looking at life. Taking courses like Photography and Tennis also helped me to develop my skills in areas that are not typically offered in a Pakistani curriculum. In a nutshell, from experiencing the dorm life, to traveling all over USA, making new friends from all around the world, presenting my country in various platforms, to taking different risks I wouldn't have otherwise, this exchange was actually like a roller coaster ride where every turn gave a unique feeling of joy, conquering my fears with every short turn, living this life to the fullest and knowing myself better by the end.
Maryville College, Tennessee
There are two kinds of opportunities; the good ones and the not-so-good ones; the Global UGRAD is the third one. If only the words could do justice, one would write how enriching and enchanting one semester can be and how an everlasting impact it can leave on an individual's life. Global UGRAD experience not only gave me a chance to study in an American classroom but also live the American way of life. Not only this, it also gave me a chance to cross off around 8 things in my "hundred things to do before I die" list.
The education in the US had not been very challenging but it had the aspect of practicality in almost everything. That's where our education system meets the difference with the American education system. With firsthand American experience, I have learnt how wrong we often have been when we talked about this great nation which deserves to stand where it does today because of all the effort they put in everything they do. I believe the odds were in my favor that I got a chance to live a lifetime in a semester! Now I see myself much more receptive and respectful towards people. My takeaway from this experience is "respect, live, and let live".
Global UGRAD Fall 2015
The trip to USA was the best thing that has ever happened to me. It was definitely a life changing experience. A journey full of excitement, self-exploration and discovery, it gave me a chance to 'meet myself'. I realized my potential, my talent, and every good thing that I have. It made me optimistic and learn to appreciate all the positive things in life. I enjoyed every bit of it. It was a semester I will never forget. I met wonderful people and made crazy friends from all over the globe. I travelled and explored more than 15 states and 50 plus cities: Las Vegas, New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami and Atlanta just to name a few. You name a city and I have been there.
Those 4 months brought a tremendous change in me. A dramatic 'filmi' girl who used to live in fantasies finally got a chance to live her dreams, to turn all her fantasies into reality. A girl who couldn't even think about living far from her family finally understood the VALUE of FREEDOM and tasted the pleasure of being on her own. I got an opportunity to actually give something back to my country. To prove my patriotism by developing a good image of Pakistan in the hearts of Americans. And that was the best part: I got to represent Pakistani culture, and showcase the great country that is Pakistan. I tried my best to show the brilliant, innovative, talented, friendly and happy side of Pakistan.
Thank you IBA and USEFP for making this happen. For providing me with memories that I will cherish forever!
I would highly recommend everyone to go through such exchange programs to different countries at least once in their lifetime and I promise, it will be an experience they will never forget!
Global Ugrad Exchange Program 2015
"The world is your oyster" are the words I live by. And whilst in the process of exploration I came across this opportunity to study a course at Imperial College London. Imperial College is undoubtedly one of the best universities in the world, but it was not the higher ranking of the college that compelled me to apply, it was the expectation that studying there, even for the summer will give me an opportunity to learn strategic business management in a culturally diverse setting. But now having done the course, I realize how the experience only managed to surpass my expectation. Not only did it provide me with a rich cultural experience but also improved upon my skills as a business person in a global village of a world that exists.
Business Strategy & Consulting Course in particular also happens to complement my bachelor's degree that I am currently undertaking. It has further enabled me with the insight required to evolve and sharpen my instincts as an individual looking to make a mark on the corporate world.
I think as a business student, it is absolutely necessary that one have the skills that would allow them not only to assess the feasibility of any business venture but should also possess the knowledge on how to improve upon the performance of any given business. Imperial College, I believe, had the faculty, the expertise and the resources that that enabled me to identify and make the best of any business opportunity that I will encompass in the future.
All in all it was a great experience with outbound learning and friendships that will last a life time.
Imperial College London
Tons of memories, life-long friendships and unmatchable experiences are all what I have extracted from this exchange program. It wouldn't be erroneous to say that it was a completely different chapter of my life that faded away in seconds. I, who had never experienced living in diverse society, have experienced the cultural diversity to the fullest. I met people from across the world, studied with them, spent time with them and exchanged my culture with theirs. All of this contributed in serving as a good cultural ambassador of Pakistan in the United States which makes me feel proud even now.
Moreover, my participation in different events on-campus, engagement in community service and exposure to dorm life has added a lot to my knowledge about U.S culture and to my personal grooming. These things have made me independent, more responsible and more social. The best part of my experience was travelling. I travelled to 12 states of the U.S. during my stay and experienced the life of big cities as well. I got to see the places in real which I used to see in movies and pictures.
Having spent four months in the U.S., I can say that this exchange program has broadened my perspective towards everything and has given me memories which I will cherish my entire life.
I was selected for a short summer program in China this year and it turned out to be the most diverse and enriching experience of my life. The program, Financial Leaders of Tomorrow, was designed mainly to introduce international students to the Chinese financial system and capital markets and to help them better understand the challenges facing China, other developing nations and today's ever more connected financial markets of the world. The speakers included full time Tsinghua (and Peking University) professors as well as industry professionals. In addition to the classroom lectures, we visited young Chinese entrepreneurs and companies such as Xiaomi and Daokoudai. Ramsha Khan, a fellow student on the same trip, and I took great pride in representing Pakistan and IBA amidst delegations from such esteemed institutions as the University of Cambridge, Carnegie Mellon University (USA) and Deutsche Bundesbank (Germany). This fulfilling experience is not without credit to IBA. I would like to note that IBA has groomed us and provided enough exposure to not just adjust, but also, hold our own in a very diverse and intellectually challenging environment. Cheers
Tsinghua People's Bank of China School of Finance (PBCSF)
Having rarely been abroad before this opportunity, I always thought of foreign countries quite magical and unimaginably complex. They aren't so. Actually, if anything they can be quite relatable. This is just one of the several ways how my reality shifted its share in my four months at US. I feel my boundaries to have expanded, that there's more that can be achieved. But of course, an exchange program of this nature tends to do a little more than just broaden the horizon of your minds. All of my time in the United States, I had two major responsibilities to upkeep.
The first one was rather personal. I had to gain something for my personal development. With all the program design of this exchange, I believe to have learnt a lot in that manner. This program in its essence has helped me be more action oriented and gain certain leadership qualities I wouldn't have so quickly developed otherwise. In addition to this, I got an amazing opportunity to learn a lot about the individual cultur of American Citizens and a keen insight into their daily life, and even somewhat to their held ideology.
As a part of the second responsibility, I served as a cultural ambassador to people of both countries helping foster image of Pakistan in the eyes of American people and vice versa. It's a pretty demanding task in itself, with the whole image of your country represented by you. Understanding what I've become as the program concludes, I am only so glad I did it.
Ahmed Ali Raza
Student Exchange at IAE has introduced me to a country no holiday or gap year could fill in. I didn't visit France, I lived in France. At IAE Aix-Marseille Graduate School of Management learning from outstanding scholars, rich academic resources, and the ideal environment to encourage research and innovation enabled me to develop critical thinking, global citizenship, innovation and entrepreneurship. An exchange doesn't only give me six months of a new culture, language and country, but it gives me a lifetime of opportunities and knowledge. It shaped part of my character and changed my view on life. Overall, this experience has taught me to be grateful, independent, open-minded and confident. Throughout my six-month stay, I had many memorable encounters and experiences that enabled me to embrace the diversity and marvel at the wonder of my surroundings. I learned to acclimate myself to France by bridging the cultural differences that exist. The people I'm surrounded by at school, my friends, local residents and just in general the people of France and European Union are very inviting and warming. My stay in France unlocked the whole Europe to me and I have been able to visit historical landmarks, museums, stunning architecture, beaches, islands and mouth-watering cuisine. By far, the time I had during my exchange, will going to remember me the rest and the best of my life.
Muhammad Nauman Raza
IAE Aix-Marseille Graduate School of Management, France
"It's one of the best things that could've happened to me! Studying in CUOA with the best pool of teachers topped with students from very diverse backgrounds, was a truly enriching experience.
The course 'Creativity, Innovation and New Business' was a complete roller coaster ride where not only we studied through a variety of techniques, but also visited companies like Giorgio Armani and many more that gave us insights into completely different industries! I mean who visits GA outlets, his production units and then is lucky enough to meet him in person as well?
Moreover, the visits to the UN and WTO in Switzerland, Milan Fashion District and to countless other places was just incomparable to any experience I could ever have! And all this in just a span of three weeks was and still is, truly unbelievable!"
CUOA Business School, Italy
I remember when I was first informed of my selection as the Principal Candidate for the Global UGRAD Program in March'15. At that moment, I never could have anticipated the extent a semester in USA would have on changing me for the better. It was a turning point in my life. I emerged out as a confident girl who is aware of her true potential.
I met amazing people and made great friends from every part of the world that I will cherish forever. Throughout, I took everything as a challenge, whether it was managing my finances, dealing with unexpected situations, getting lost or travelling alone to new cities, I never felt fearful of anything. Instead, I started to value my independence and freedom of making my decisions.
I showed my patriotism by representing the Pakistani culture in USA and wore my traditional dress, bangles and mehndi with pride. I addressed the concerns Americans have about Pakistan and it was a great feeling to have them say that they wish to visit Pakistan after conversing with me. I highlighted all the positive features about Pakistan as to change the negative stereotypes they see 24/7 in the media.
The highlight of my journey was when I skydived from a height of 15000 feet in Florida! The moment when I was about to jump from the plane, I had never been more terrified in my entire life but I did it because my time in US had made me courageous and fearless.
What this exchange has done for me cannot be described in mere words. Today, I am not the same girl that I was before my exchange program and I have a different, positive outlook on life altogether. I am more accepting of others, broadminded and more appreciative of the small positive things around me.
I have lived my life in these four months.
Thank you USEFP and IBA for making this possible!
- Javeria Khalid Petiwala
Global UGrad Alumni
Going for this Exchange program was my Dream- but I did not imagine it to be fulfilled so soon. As the days were approaching by, I was getting nervous and anxious but little did I know that I would have the time of my life. I never expected to see almost whole of US in 4 months which has instilled in me the love for travelling. My friends and advisor at ULM did so much for me that made my exchange more than perfect. They were friendly, co-operative and helpful at the same time, unlike the image portrayed by media. What I liked most about studying in US was meeting people from all over the globe. Learning their culture and different perspectives about life was the most interesting aspect. Thus, who I am now when back at home is far different than who I was when I left. It has taught me new ways of looking at things and has changed me into a more confident, experienced, outgoing and an independent person which I always aspired to become.
The best advice I would like to give everyone would be to try every new thing, never say No, meet new people, ask questions and step out of your nutshell. Enjoy every minute of your time there as it is never going to come back. It has been the best thing- personally and academically, that has ever happened to me. Thank you IBA and Global UGRAD for giving me this opportunity which I will treasure forever.
Global UGrad Alumni
After getting into IBA on fully-funded scholarship through IBA National Talent Hunt Program, I aimed at getting educational experience cross-culturally, and what could be better than exercising Harvard University for that. I got the opportunity to attend Harvard Initiative for Latin America Relations (HILAR) Conference, which was themed on Entrepreneurship, Education, Inequality and Human Rights.
The best learning was the interaction with young Latin America entrepreneurs, human rights activists, educational policymakers and highly qualified professors of Harvard. With the magnificent teaching techniques and debates, we had a chance to understand different institutional issues, policy flaws and diverse system of governance for both the South and the North Americas. Now, I think I am better equipped to understand various policies and their implementation issues that our country currently facing.
I show my gratitude to Coordinator NTHP, Teachers and IBA for sponsoring and assisting me in achieving my objective of getting wide perspective on issues very much pertinent to our nation. I have returned with invigorating aims to serve my country in whatever possible way I can.
Harvard Initiative for Latin America Relations Conference
"Completely UNFORGETTABLE experience. The overall LONDON life experience with a cherry of Imperial college course on the cake surpassed my expectations… it's not only about intellectual development, but it's also about social development as well. I detached myself from same monotonous lifestyle and explored another corner of planet. It's an opportunity no one should miss! There is another world waiting for you."
Imperial College Summer School 2015
"If anybody would have told me year back that I would be going to USA for a fully funded exchange program for five months, I would have laughed and told that person not to joke because it is near impossible. I in USA for a semester, seemed out of this world. But life is unexpected and it brings you such opportunities that make you wonder and really appreciate and thank for what the Almighty has in store for you. Verily HE is the best of planners.
So here I am back to Pakistan and I am speechless, honored, excited and humbled at what I have experienced. A large part was played by Delta State University and its people whom I have learned to love like family. I found a second home there. My teachers and my friends never made me feel that I am more than a hundred thousand miles away from home. My travel trips were more than just recreational, as I learned a great deal from my travels to different places in the US. There is a lot you can discover about yourself when you travel and especially when you travel alone. The thrill of walking up to an intersection and not knowing whether to go left or right just makes you feel alive. I, for once, realized that the routine life before going to the US had aged me before my due time. Waking up at seven in the morning regardless of it being a weekend or a weekday, shower, shave, dress shirt, dress pant, dress shoes, off to university; had made me uptight. For the past four and a half months spent in USI rediscovered myself and let myself free, loosened myself up, to enjoy what life has to offer. Never in my life had I ever been so carefree. Truly the Almighty had some definite plan in mind when HE planned for me to go to USA and I am ever so grateful to HIM for rewarding me, greater than my fair share and bestowing upon me blessings that I do not even deserve.
I have learned that small things that you take for granted, can overwhelm you, and reduce you to tears. I have finally learned that patience is virtue; that waiting and delaying your judgement, pausing for a split second, allowing your mind to come to terms with what is happening in front of you, can make or break you. I have learned that people come in all shapes, sizes, colors but everyone is stamped with the human blueprint, you just have to look beyond the layers of blood and flesh to find what really matters. I have learned that how far you are away from home you can still find people who will treat you like family, who will cling to whatever iota of similarity you share and raise it to the infinite degree and never even expect something in return. I have learned that people are inherently good at heart and it's the filth in our mindsets and the dirt in the lens from which we see the world that makes them look bad.
I would say that every student should at least once during their bachelors should go for an international trip. It is an enriching experience that grooms you, develops and nourishes your personality to a great extent."
Global UGrad Alumni