An extended vision comes with an extended view. If only mountains make your sight, then how can plains and grasslands conjure in your mind? How can you know that flowers of every shade and color dwell somewhere as well, waiting to be plucked by a daring hand?
I knew this, only when I made a daring myself, by deciding to study at Thailand- a place where I had neither kith nor kin to guide or help. That’s why the first impressions after my landing were those of confusion and consternation. In the sweltering heat of Songkhla, I found it extremely hard to communicate well with my arsenal of linguistic skills during my first days. Unaware of cultural sensibilities, I stuttered and stumbled to absorb a collection of cultures all gathered at one place.
But slowly as I started settling in, I felt the joy of being surrounded with such a huge diversity. Almost a miniature Asia, the Prince of Songkla University (I noticed) had representations from Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, China, Cambodia, Nepal and many others.
The particular quirks and idiosyncrasies of my univeristy fellows were so fascinating and amusing for me. I was shocked to hear Cambodian husbands moving in the houses of their spouses after their marriage. I was amused to hear the Chinese custom of never giving shoes as gifts, or the Malaysians insistence to wear their Baju Melayus. I found an affinity in Nepalese, who understand tit bits of Urdu due to Bollywood movies.
Looking back now, the over-riding lesson in the whole journey of my life from Amir-Abad (my home-town) to Thailand, I feel, was the broadening of my vision. I felt this when I moved to Khaplu to study at KPS where I maintained the top position throughout. And at Skardu as well, where I did not let my position slip at PSCS by securing 86 percent in my FSc.
And at UET Peshawer when I was doing my electrical engineering, I felt again this sense of diversity and human connection across cultures to be so transformative and significant, perhaps even more so than what I was learning in my classrooms. And considering I was a Balti coming from the mountainous confines, I felt like I had much to learn and experience. Therefore, I put in extra effort to improve myself. The result was that I was short-listed and then selected for the internship at Huawei (Islamabad) out of more than 300 students.
That internship lasted for about three months where I got a feel for the professional life. But I found the professional life to be less appealing than the academic life at which I had a flair for excelling. That’s why I left Huawei after a period of about nine months.
Instead, I started applying for foreign scholarships to appease my academic hunger. But after several months of tedious university application procedures and rigorous testing systems, my visa was rejected at the very last stage. A setback I had not forethought at all. Still, I pulled myself together to avail the next best opportunity at hand- a fully funded scholarship at Thailand.
After getting a feel of the vastness of this world, I now intend to become a teacher in my future after completing my PhD, to serve the very people whose prayers got me at this stage in the first place.