Stories about europe

Why working with the Austrian Mission in Pakistan was more than just another job

A few years ago, I was distractedly skimming through a pile of newspapers when suddenly my cup of tea fell over the classifieds section. It was there that I saw a job vacancy at the Austrian Embassy in Islamabad, and my life changed for the better. Seeing the ad took me back to my childhood, when my father was transferred to Frankfurt during the 90s. At the time, I was enrolled in a German school. Surviving on the streets of Germany without knowing the German language was a difficult task, especially during the early years of German reunification. But I ...

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Sky is the limit: My journey from Sargodha to the University of Oxford

When I was 12-years-old, I remember hearing about an institution known as the University of Oxford, but it felt too far away to ever become a reality. While I knew that if I worked hard I could probably get in someday, I never imagined the path life would take me through to finally get here. A path filled with adventures around the globe, and a chase towards learning from some of the world’s brightest minds. I am currently a PhD candidate at the University of Oxford, and received my Master’s through a program that allowed me to live in ...

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Stepping into the void: A magical journey to the picturesque Swiss and French Alps

The mountains are calling and I must go – this is what I told myself while planning my summer vacation. Selecting Switzerland was a no-brainer, as it remains one of the most sought after and popular destinations for tourists around the world, thanks to its alpine peaks, mountain vistas and magical landscape. I started my European journey from Chur, reportedly the oldest town in Switzerland, and made my way to the Glacier Express, dubbed the world’s fastest slow train. This is a panoramic train which reaches Zermatt, a Swiss mountain resort, passing through spectacular lakes, enormous mountains and breath-taking landscapes. [caption ...

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A day trip to the micronation of Andorra, a jewel hidden between European giants

Sandwiched between Spain and France in the Pyrenees mountains, very few have heard of the micronation that is Andorra. I too only came across this tiny European country on Google Maps while I was planning my Euro tour. With a total area of only 468 kilometre square and a population of almost 77,000 people, it attracts over 10 million tourists annually, which is where 80% of its gross domestic product (GDP) comes from. Seeing its beauty and its unusual size, it didn’t take long for me to include it in my itinerary as I planned to visit every single state in ...

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Wanderlust: 8 cities, 20 days, and a life-changing trip across Europe

The earth is like a book; if you spend your entire life in your own country, then you’ve only read one page. Humanity has concluded, almost unanimously, that freedom is the fundamental right of every individual, yet they have understood it conservatively. To be fully free, you must wander, travel, eat and live – as you like and deem fit. However, given our cultural barriers, most of us are unable to realise or appreciate this freedom. Only exposure to and interaction with different people and cultures makes people tolerant and empathetic. To internalise and own the beauty you appreciate, ...

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Zia thought he was going to China to sell his liver, but he didn’t know what was waiting for him

Being a journalist in Pakistan, I frequently come across crimes committed, sentences pronounced, culprits getting caught, and in many cases, culprits getting away. Thought I may not be physically present every time, I rely on certain ‘sources’ within the respective setup to bring forth the facts, if not the whole truth. On July 30th, I was contacted by one of my sources within the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) who informed me about a poor soul and a ring of criminals caught at the airport. I asked for adequate information on the issue, and in response, I was not only ...

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New season, new players, new spirits: Will EPL clubs benefit from their summer transfers?

As the Premier League (EPL) finally returns (and my life has meaning again) there are major hopes and expectations placed upon a club’s new players. There have been record-breaking transfers this summer window and some interesting players have joined the English league. Here is a list of five (obvious and not-so-obvious) signings that could potentially change the fortunes of the clubs they have joined. Disclaimer: This list only includes players who have joined from other leagues. 1. Frederico Rodrigues (Fred): Amidst the lack of late signings and Jose Mourinho’s melt-down, we seem to have forgotten that early on Manchester United signed Brazilian midfielder ...

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When your son asks you “what is a mango”

While flipping through a book of fruits that I brought for him yesterday, my three-year-old son stopped on a particular page. Curiously, he gazed at the picture for some time. He tilted the little book, first left then right, and even gave it at a full upside down rotation in hopes that this thing would look familiar once he sees it with the right angle. As I was watching him making these attempts and inwardly feeling excited on actually witnessing my toddler’s cognitive process (yes, parents have these weird, rather creepy moments of exhilaration), out of frustrated curiosity, my son asked ...

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Is Trump pulling out of the Iran deal a blessing in disguise for Pakistan?

US President Donald Trump’s announcement to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal – also known as the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – did not surprise many. However, the way in which this announcement was made was more dramatic than expected; especially how Trump simply announced the date of the decision in a tweet, creating suspense and leaving behind an air of doubt. I will be announcing my decision on the Iran Deal tomorrow from the White House at 2:00pm. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2018 The Iran Deal is defective at its core. If we do nothing, ...

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No, you may not call me a ‘Paki’

There was a strange time when I was growing up, where I didn’t fully understand the dual identity I had as a Pakistani-Canadian. I thought I was just like everyone else, until I was nine-years-old. At school, a notice was given to students with information about how to keep hair clean to avoid lice. A young white boy scoffed at the notice, and announced that the only people who needed this reminder were the “Paki” kids. This was my first taste of prejudice, but it became all too familiar as I continued to grow up in a diverse, yet inharmonious society. Fast ...

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