Stories about studying abroad

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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I wanted to earn the ‘Lashari’ surname, and studying abroad in HEC Paris helped me achieve just that!

“Are you related to ‘the’ Lasharis?” This is an inquiry that follows the moment anyone is introduced to my full name. What I am really being asked is if I am in any way related to Kamran Lashari – my father, and arguably one of the most popular and respected bureaucrats in Pakistan, known for bringing innovation and zing to city development. Or perhaps they mean my eldest brother, Bilal Lashari, the country’s most successful and celebrated film director. Or do they mean Omar Lashari, my Cornell educated, financial analyst brother? This would always be a source of pride, if only ...

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I almost married a man who was absolutely the wrong person for me, all because “log kya kahengay”

About five years ago, when I was contemplating calling off my wedding a mere three months before the ceremony, one of my biggest concerns was what my parents would endure as a result of my decision. To be clear, I wasn’t worried about what my parents would say, as they’ve always encouraged and supported me. No, I was worried about what people would say to them. If you’ve watched Hasan Minhaj’s Netflix special, Homecoming King, then you’ll know the significance of the phrase “log kya kahengay” (what will people say?). These words have struck fear into many a brown kid’s heart, and indeed are what was on my mind during that ...

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Is there place for a Pakistani girl applying to universities in Trump’s America?

This election has been unprecedented and historic on all accounts, and I’m not talking about the obvious surface-level facts – Hillary Clinton being the first ever female nominee of a major party, or Donald Trump ascending to the office of the presidency with no political experience whatsoever. No, I’m talking about the rhetoric that has fuelled this campaign – the personal attacks, the hatred, the misogyny, the sexism, the lies, the scandal – which both, the right and left, agree on.  I could go into all the reasons – and there are many – of why this election turned out ...

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From Scotland to Pakistan, my journey to solitude

An epiphany results in one deciding their goals in life. It dictates your thought-process in a way that it becomes your aim in life to achieve it. Hence, I had my epiphany while I watching a drama being shot in Scotland. We all go through the phase where we believe certain actions might be the solutions to our problems. My aim in life was to live in the beautiful territory known as Scotland. The country brings with it allure and beauty in terms of nature, the magic of the landscape weaves into the minds of all the people who’ve visited this ...

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As a student in grade 9, I pledge my future to Pakistan – do you?

On December 16th, around 10am, a group of heavily armed men belonging to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) stormed the Army Public School and Degree College in Peshawar. These men opened fire and took several students hostage in the main auditorium of the school. The number of casualties is officially reported to be over 140 and more than 180 injured. TTP has claimed this attack to be in retaliation to Pakistan’s military offensive known as Operation Zarb-e-Azb, which started in June, 2014, in North Waziristan. This school was attacked in an attempt to kill the future military potential of Pakistan, in the hopes of ...

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Will you go back to Pakistan after graduation?

I am often asked by my family and friends in Toronto about whether or not I would want to go back to Pakistan after completing my degree here. This question stimulates a range of mixed emotions in me; I think of a lot of factors ranging from the prevailing security situation to job security, job progression and of course my parents’ expectations from me. However, at the end of the day, I always tell them that I will go back. To this, I often hear people saying, “We will see after two years.” Or “Everybody goes through this patriotic phase, you’ll get over it.” Frankly speaking, ...

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I want my daughter back

August 20, 2001 – Islamabad airport: I said ‘Khuda Hafiz’ to my 17-year-old daughter, my only child; she was on her way to college in the US. She had the honour of being accepted at Yale University on a full scholarship and like always she had done us proud once again. Tearfully, I hugged her and whispered in her ear, “Don’t come back.” Quick on the uptake, she smiled that sweet endearing smile of hers and shot back, “Abba, you have brought me up with the lesson to have a mind of my own.” She defied me continuously for four years; came back twice a year during ...

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Leaving for college but trying to fit ‘home’ into a suitcase

Every time I leave home, I have the urge to pack everything within sight. Accessories I will never use, dozens of Pakistan flags I will forget to put up, books I won’t get time to read, stray tokens of days spent at home so that I may relive them at will. However, this odd impulse isn’t nearly as exasperating as the reality that I can’t actually pack the things that matter the most, because they are intangible. My sister’s voice or the spark in her chatter; my mother’s worried frown when she thinks I’m overworked; long, honest conversations with old friends; the innate comfort ...

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Pakistan has all it takes to be a great nation!

It has been four years since I moved to Austria to pursue a PhD degree. At the time of leaving Pakistan, I was overjoyed, filled with excitement and enthusiasm. The picture of Europe, though largely exaggerated, depicted by my friends who were already studying there, was so appealing that I could hardly wait to get there. The excitement was so overwhelming that I did not even bother to see the tears in my mother’s eyes when she came to see me off at Jinnah Airport. I rushed to the check-in counter, fearing that I may miss the flight and ...

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