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TALES OF INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS’ LIFE AT UOL

Where do you come from? Why  did you choose to come to  Pakistan? Don’t you have  universities in your country of origin?  Do you like Pakistan? Can you speak  Urdu? As an international student, these  are questions you get asked quite often,  possibly more than once a day by different  people in and outside the university. One  is pushed to both self-assess and to  evaluate the true experience of living in  Pakistan and their university stay.  Having lived here for almost four years  there is a lot that can be discussed on life  in Pakistan. One would think after a year  or two the experience becomes more  of a routine which is lectures, prayers,  meals, studying then sleep but that’s a  misconception. Every day comes with  its own unique experiences, it’s always  worthwhile and different because you  either learn from it or make more than  just memories. It’s important to note  that Pakistanis are very kind hearted  and good natured people, considering I  have lived and studied in South India and  other areas on the globe that’s a virtue  one can’t deny. I was warmly welcomed  during my first days and truth be told that  still resonates within me quite often.  Foreigners are not that many within  Lahore and that means people are  obviously going to be surprised to see  you here. The looks and stares that  come along with that are expected after  a while. That’s not the case when one is  new though. One would interpret that  as either rude or awkward although with  time it’s something students eventually  get used to.  The desi food is to be savored, it’s a  personal favorite. There are various  dishes I can’t even begin to mention that  I’m definitely going to miss on completion  of my program, so I might as well enjoy  the bliss while I can. The university has  managed to put up an amazing setup;  the ambience on campus is serene. As a  student there are various places I can go  to and wind down a long day, probably  a sumptuous meal along the university’s  personal Food Street, a work out at the  gym or a simple walk in the beautiful  university gardens.  An experience solely based on fine points  would be untrue. Most international  students including myself face language  barrier both as a problem and hindrance  to our livelihood and school work. It  takes a while to catch on and bridge the  gap. The tedious process of obtaining  various documentation that includes  Visas, IBCC letters as well as clearance  letters, is another issue that most if not  all international students do face. A 3rd  semester Nigerian student of DDNS  says, “The 1.5 years of my stay haven’t  been a smooth ride due to consistent  problems with visa processing and  constant changes in the weather that  cannot possibly be compared to Abuja,  north central Nigeria where I come from.  Language barrier can’t be forgotten. On  the bright side the historical places are  amazing; food in the restaurants is epic  as well. That’s something I miss when I  go home’’.  Additionally, a 10th semester Sudanese  student hailing from Khartoum, Sudan  who lived here for over 5 years resides off  campus. I had the pleasure of speaking  to him and he states, ‘’One thing for sure  is that Pakistanis are very hospitable  people, that is granted. Hospitality  breeds comfort and comfort enables one  to peacefully stay in an area. Obviously  there are issues that come along with  living off campus such as load shedding  mostly during the summer, insecurity is  one as well. Being on my own also often  brings about sadness and unavoidable  loneliness.’’  The University of Lahore has offered  education to various international  students that have passed out, embarked  on their respective career paths and  gone on to do great things in life. Suffice  to say it’s a much needed experience  and a win-win situation whichever way  one sees it. As a final year student, I urge  new students to most of all, be patient  and content not only it is essential for  them but it is also an important aspect of  their belief as Muslims. If you are having  a great time please keep that fire, if not,  believe me it’s going to get better.  Being a 1st edition, I would love to  take this opportunity to acknowledge  Sir Awais Raoof the Chairman, BOG UOL for being immensely kind, helpful  and overwhelmingly proper. Your  grace and candidness has taught me  more than I would ever have asked for.  The international student community  appreciates you. May the Almighty Allah  bless you abundantly! Stay blessed.  (The writer is a final year student of  Pharm-D from Uganda).

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