Essay By Hira
It’s been 5 months since I have returned from Pakistan. I still think about it vividly to this day. In case you forgot, let me remind you…
It all began when my mother informed me that she had bought plane tickets for June 17th, 2017 to Lahore, Pakistan. Five months ago, I was filled with mixed emotions when realizing that I would be flying halfway across the world for three months, my entire summer. What about my friends? My significant other? My life? I would be dropping everything familiar to me and immersing myself in an environment that was so far from my everyday lifestyle. I had not visited Pakistan (my parents’ birth country) for six years, and from what I remember, it was a completely different lifestyle. Pakistan is a third world country, so there were a lot of adjustments and adaptations that I had to make; however, now here I am five months later, finding myself smiling while sharing my eye-opening experience. My trip to Pakistan was a rollercoaster of an experience that showed me the importance of patience in life, humbled me, and showed me the value of growth in immersing myself in unfamiliar environments.
June 17th came before I knew it, and I rubbed my tired eyes as I got out of my bed after a restless night. We actually got off on the wrong foot, as due to a misunderstanding, we actually ended up missing our flight. That was where the trouble began. There we were, 4am, standing in the airport, with a million questions running through our minds. What if there were no more available flights until next week? How much money were new tickets going to cost? How did we have to miss our flight? Why us? The next day was spent by my mom vigorously running around between airline offices trying to reschedule our tickets. Because we flew with two different airlines, everything was double the hectic. After hours and hours of sitting on an airport chair, my mom informed me we’d be flying June 19th and that this time, we would have to be extra early. Just watching what my mom had to go through to reschedule our tickets showed me that you’re not always going to get what you want and things won’t always go as planned. It opened my eyes to the challenges of the world out there and made me realize life has its ups and downs, but everything will turn out okay. Patience is the key to hastiness of life. Pouting or yelling at the airport staff was not going to move any of us forward. Challenges like this happen in life, but everything would turn out okay and ultimately, for the better.
When we finally reached Pakistan, there was so much to do. We had to prepare for the wedding, all while exploring the country. My mom took us to several places, but there was one in particular that stood out, the village. The village was the poorer part of Pakistan. The houses were extremely narrow and most only had one room, if any. Many had one common area, often times with no chairs nor everyday amenities I saw in my life such as a television or couch. They lacked many of the privileges I had in my everyday life. Life in the village was so simple and mundane that it made me realize how truly blessed I am to have my home, a wide variety of clothes to choose from, food in the fridge to eat, and so much more. Nothing has made me appreciate my life more than viewing how village people have to live. The children would use anything and everything to start up a game of soccer. They would play with rocks, sticks, dirt piles, anything that they could find. There was no breakfast, lunch, or dinner, just simple food including bread and soup when families had the funds to buy it. The water was contaminated, but there was no other choice, and the village goers’ bodies had built resistance to it. It was an experience that I had never seen before. A lifestyle so far from my own. A trip that humbled me. The images still are vivid in my mind today, and it was an experience that will always stick with me in my life journey.
The third life lesson my journey to Pakistan taught me was to appreciate the risks of life, as there is beauty even in the most challenging experiences. While I was nervous to leave my comfortable life behind, I was exposed to many people and lifestyles that allowed me to grow in ways I did not even know that I could. My time abroad was one in which I was able to escape my life and learn about another world. Essentially, I had dropped everything and flew halfway across the world and even though the journey had its challenges, it was still one filled with lasting experiences I have not and could not gain elsewhere. It taught me to take seize opportunities that are foreign to me because that is where the most growth occurs.
So diary, my trip to Pakistan was an experience that allowed me to see a side of the world I did not even know existed. It taught me valuable lessons that I have carried with me since boarding the plane back home. Traveling in general provides experiences that are invaluable because of the foreign nature of it. Stepping outside of your own lenses and opening up your world to these kinds of experiences is what allows for growth and opportunity. To this day, I still remember my experience vividly, and will always be grateful for the journey that shaped me into the growing individual that I am.
Winner of 2017 Travel Visa Pro Scholarship