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