Wednesday, October 4, 2023

As I See It: A Cultural Exchange

By Iqra Saeed

Cultural Exchange Student

Iqra Saeed Photo provided

I believe that life without dreams is like a bird without wings. 

Coming to the United States was one of my dreams. I applied for a scholarship in the U.S., and after some time I received a call telling me that I had been selected for an interview and that the date had been set. 

I was happy, but the process ended before it began because of COVID-19. I received an email about  the cancellation of this program, but still I had a hope in my heart that I would go.

 I didn’t know how I would do it,  but I didn’t lose hope because I believe that when you struggle for something with your heart, you will receive the results you want. 

One evening I received an email about a visa interview that provided me with hope of coming to the U.S. After clearing the visa interview, I received my tickets and on Aug. 14 I boarded a flight out of my country and my journey began.

As soon  as I entered the U.S. it should have been a moment of joy and pride for me, but I was just happy to be alive because of the travel schedule. I had three connected flights; my second flight was 16 hours long; and because of the first two bad experiences, my third flight, which was only two hours long, seemed to take years. My soul was dead, and so was  my body; there was no moment of happiness on my face. 

Finally, I reached my dorm. The very next morning, international students were supposed to attend orientation and while the beginning of the morning was good, when I went to grab something to eat, a funny thing happened. I discovered that people here don’t eat spicy food. I don’t mean that Americans don’t like spicy foods at all, but the ones they eat are much different from the spicy foods I’m accustomed to eating. 

The good thing is that since the day I came here, every day for me is an adventure. I participate in a variety of activities, go to different places, meet new people, make new friends and enjoy my days.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to visit America, Mississippi and Ole Miss for a semester, and I’m looking forward to many exciting experiences while I’m here.

Iqra Saeed is studying journalism and law at the University of the Punjab in Pakistan. She is spending the fall semester at Ole Miss as part of the university’s cultural exchange program.