This world is so beautiful. Its beauty is beyond our imagination. And so is our life.
My experience as an exchange student in Santa Monica has come to an end, and it is so hard for me to even think that I am leaving a whole new world I have woven here with the thread of love.
The opportunity of being an exchange student and a youth ambassador from Pakistan was the best thing that could ever happen to me. It gave me an opportunity to learn about significant differences and made me tough from the challenges I faced here and will face in the upcoming years of my life. It also provided me a platform where I could build a plethora of good understandings between two nations. I know I didn’t completely change people’s minds and their points of view, but I am sure I showed people a truer and more positive face of Pakistan.
Since I arrived here my life has been changing tremendously. I recall the moments when I, at 15, was at the airport in Pakistan holding my mom’s hands so firmly as I would not be seeing her for an entire year, but then realizing it was time to leave. Tears reached my cheeks while I hugged my father so tightly, and then said a good-bye to my sisters.
After traveling and spending 28 hours in the air, I reached a land that was completely unknown to me. I got out of the airport with my luggage all by myself looking around for someone I knew, but I just found people that were so different from me; the way they were dressing and talking was all unfamiliar and peculiar for me. But I loved every moment I spent here.
I still remember my first day with my host family; a confused “Tammy” entered the house with hesitation without knowing anyone, without meeting anyone before living with them. And now tears blur my eyes when the thought of going back strikes my mind.
I can still describe my first day at school. A student, Tammy, entered Santa Monica High School with a headscarf and some perplexed questions in mind. I was concerned about how I would be treated by the students and teachers. Would they accept how I dressed and spoke? Then, suddenly, a loud bell changed the whole environment of school. I saw waves of students rushing to their lockers and next classes and somehow I was lost in that huge crowd of 3,000 students. Eventually I realized no one really cares how I dress or talk. I made a bunch of friends on the first day. And now it is time to leave good friends who were with me in my happiest moments as well as my worst ones. I will never forget those who made me laugh when I didn’t want to. And now, it is literally unimaginable to think I am leaving them.
Some situations were certainly hard for me to deal with here, and then I cried and missed my mom and my family in Pakistan. But I believed that homesickness was a part of the process I was in.
After facing and dealing with things in my own way, after doing my own laundry, cooking my own meals, budgeting money myself, I saw a new face of this world I had never seen. Now I love to manage things myself and I think it is good for me. It surely doesn’t mean that I am all by myself here or after going back to Pakistan I won’t need parenting. I have the best host family here that is with me all the time and I have the best family in Pakistan. I will need their guidance always in my life because they are experienced and will always have advice for my own good.
There are some moments in everyone’s life that you don’t want to lose and want to frame your lives in the mold of that moment. This experience is no doubt coming to an end, but the advantages and benefits I received will profit me forever; the strong relationships I built here will never be forgotten. The things I learned here will one day serve this world and make it a better place to live. The respect and love I got from America will always remain in my heart.
Seven thousand miles away soon I will be,
In the arms of my parents, in the home of my birth.
Pier, Michigan, Pico, Montana again I will never see,
But always they will be home on this green earth for me.
TAHREEM can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.