I am so blessed to say that I lived as a foreign exchange student in the United States for a couple of months. I can never forget those amazing moments of my life. My story starts from a very rural part of Pakistan. I grew up in a society which is culturally and geographically different from the rest of the country. Our cultural values and social setups were the only comfort zone that we use to enjoy. Like the other people living the society, I was satisfied, happy and comfortable in that comfort zone. However, I was not aware of the fact that it will kill me inside. It was blocking out my mind by not letting me explore things out of its range. My comfort zone was unable to control my imaginations. I used to imagine what life would look like beyond the mountains of Chitral. I struggled to find ways to explore the world out there, and then I decided to enroll in the Institute of Management Sciences (IMSciences), Peshawar.
I was not feeling comfortable to study in an environment different other than my hometown, but I was happy to explore a few my imaginations. After coming out of my home, my enthusiasm to explore increased more. I did not have a platform to discover more until the day when I got to know about The Global Undergraduate Exchange Program (aka UGRAD). I applied for UGRAD exchange program and got selected to study as an exchange student in the United States.
I was very excited to explore the world and make some international friends around the world. I came to the United States in January 2016 with my other Pakistani fellow exchange students. We received a warm welcome from the Global UGRAD staffs, and then we had a four days orientation in the Washington DC. During the orientation, we discussed what to do and what not to do during this exchange period. This was the typical pros and cons during the program. We moved to our State where the program has assigned us. I was placed in Kennesaw, Georgia which is a beautiful place in the north of Florida with a 12 hours drive from Miami. So, I started my school the next day in Kennesaw State University’s International relations department. Every class had a very relaxed atmosphere successfully created by the teachers. The students were not asked to follow any strict rules during the studies. The education system was based on practical knowledge rather than just focusing on theories. So, it was more qualitative as compared to the education system in Pakistan.
The six months I spent in the United States helped me to break my comfort zone completely. I studied and explored the diversity in American Culture by trying out American food, American cards games and by attending American festivals. The best part of my exchange program was to let people know about your culture. I did a country presentation and shared the taste of our foods with the Americans. I also presented our cultural dresses in front of them.
I feel so great that I have done twenty hours community service during my stay in USA. I facilitated kids during their Olympic games arranged by Kennesaw State University, and I helped out farmers in arranging their stuff in the farmer’s market displayed on campus.
Long story short, life as a foreign exchange student in the United States is pretty amazing, we got to learn new things, got to experience amazing cultural values, got to taste different foods and make some new friends. This exchange program helped me to widen my horizon and made me live independently, without any comfort zone. Thank you UGRAD!
This is a guest article by Rukhsana Hussaini – Kennesaw State University – UGRAD 2016