Suicide Awareness and the affect on the bereavers

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September is the month of suicide awareness. It is alarming that on average 1 person dies of suicide every 40 seconds across the globe as per World Health Organization’s (WHO) study. It’s been more than a decade since a very nearest and dearest person to me (which I would refer as X) committed suicide, leaving me dumbstruck till this age and changing my personality completely. Why? What? How? are the questions that often come in my mind, waking me up from sleep. Yes…I am a bereaver  and I keep thinking if and only if X told me what was going on in the mind and if I was a little older to comprehend situations, this dark reality could have been avoided.

I found myself a lot mature after this incidence and started viewing the world from a different angle not only because I was related to X but more due to how people’s attitude changed towards my surviving family. This made me realise that despite living in 21st century, suicide is still considered a taboo especially in the culture/country I belong and people view the beveaver  in a peculiar way. Instead of the people working towards the cause of suicide such as mental health issues, emotional, psychological breakdown, trauma etc. and developing detective, preventive and healing measures, most people including the educated class tend to shun the topic and hide the news of suicide. It is considered a gloomy topic which made me do research on it and its petrifying that even the world’s happiest countries including Norway and Finland suffer from a high suicide rate.

It is very important to firstly raise suicide awareness and deliver seminars in schools, colleges, universities and talk about it to public to teach people how to prevent suicide among their close ones. X in my case was suffering from psychological issue and a series of unfortunate events one after the other caused X to take this irreversible step. Its important to highlight that seeing a mental doctor is in no way different  to consulting any other doctor like a skin or an eye specialist and should not be a taboo (which is still the case in few Eastern countries). Secondly, the bereaved are mostly ill-treated by other people for no fault of their own and suffer from the sorrowful path when someone close to them leaves the world through suicide. There are suicide bereavement groups and talking to people who have suffered a similar loss is a good way to get rid of build up emotions which bereavers are not comfortable sharing with other people. It took me 10 whole years to become confident to talk about my story and raise suicide awareness. Undoubtedly, there are many stress in a person’s life and even small criticism or belittling can accumulate and be the reason for someone taking their life. Hence, it is important to be aware of the fact that suicide results in a large number of annual deaths with twice the number who think of committing one, we all play a role to spread positivety and take the person to counselor if you think he/she is depressed or having suicidal thoughts as well as supporting the bereavers who have suffered a huge and shocking loss.

 

It is important to note that most of the times a person commits suicide if he/she thinks death is the only escape from his/her problems. Usually, they talk about their issues with family/friends and should be given help on an immediate basis as counselling/treatment at the right time can increase the probability of saving life. Sometimes, they might not communicate their feelings but their actions can be an indication of something wrong and should be offered help.

*Here bereavers are those who have been closely attached with the person died of suicide.

 

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Journey to Canada as an international student-Part 1

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Hello students,

A little about myself, I moved to Canada in October 2017 for my graduate studies. It took me a really long time to get the student visa (11 weeks where as on the website it was mentioned 5 weeks) to a point where my program administrator (the lovely Susan) advised me to defer it to next year as it was a really math intensive program and classes started from August so she feared I wouldn’t be able to catch up with the syllabus. I used to email the visa embassy every week to get an update on the status but it was of no use. I still remember, I got tearful reading her email as I had refused all the other admission letters I got from universities in UK and Europe as I wanted to go to Canada. So I replied to her email letting her withdraw me from the program and the next week, all the courses were removed from the portal.

Just when I gave up on my goal of studying in Canada, one night I checked my email and there was a mail from the visa embassy that I can collect my passport. I told my parents and immediately emailed Susan telling her the situation and promising I would be able to manage the missed classes (of a month and a half) if she can re-enroll me in the courses somehow as I haven’t asked for the fees refund yet. My dad helped me a lot to check the tickets and select the earliest flight. My mom and brother started throwing important things in my suitcase as we weren’t prepared at all and I made up my mind of not hoping for the visa anymore. We were doing all this without even knowing whether I had gotten the visa or has it been rejected. The next morning I went to the embassy with my brother with my hands shivering on what the outcome would be. I got the envelop from the officer and opened it immediately and I had gotten a two years study permit. I felt joyful but there were so many things going on in my mind to show the excitement. I felt Susan wouldn’t agree on me joining the program unusually late as there are always policies and timelines that university has to follow. I was checking the mails constantly and finally received her reply that she has to talk to the program director (Professor Miu) about my situation.

And oh how can I forget, after coming back home from visa embassy I checked online for the list of documents needed when travelling to Canada and I was missing a very important letter (the point of entry) which the embassy didn’t provide me. I was already short of time with a lot of uncertainties and this was a cherry on top. I emailed IRCC and embassy pleading to take my case on an urgent basis and send  the letter. Thankfully they were prompt this time and provided me with the e-document on the same day. My dad called Susan as waiting for emails back and forth was too time taking and she told the academic committee was in the meeting discussing my case and after 5 mins she called us back that they are ready to re-enroll me in the program to a condition that if I face any difficulty in the program wouldn’t be there responsibility as whatever they taught in the first month was important to build the Quant foundation required for the other terms. (It was overwhelming as so many things happened in 2 days for which I was waiting for the past 11 weeks).

So this is how I made it to Canada with my parents support. While I was in the plan en-route Toronto along with my mom as I wanted to get so many things done at a short time along with moral support for time being, my dad was searching for accommodation near the university online. Mid term exams were starting in my program from a week after I was joining and I read some accounting/finance notes in the plane to freshen my knowledge and have some idea about the program material. Finally we landed and a relative of mine picked us from the airport and dropped us in Hamilton (another city 70 kms from downtown) where my university was located. We were jet lagged and tired but still went to university to meet Susan who greeted us very nicely, welcomed me officially to the program and gave me a bunch of course books and notes to be read as exams were starting from Monday (and it was Friday, 27th September 2017). All the houses near the university were occupied but finally thanks to my dad’s online search, we found a really small basement room with no windows but I couldnt do anything but to take it. The landlord knew we are international and charged a higher rent than market from me but at that time we had to take it. I lived in that place for 8 months while finishing the two terms of my program.

In case you are wondering was I able to manage the study load? To tell the truth, it was very hard, even though I had taken finance in undergrad, most of the courses here were coding and math focused (deriving formulas, a lot of integration, econometrics and involving softwares which I haven’t even heard of). One of my professors (Prof. Kwan) was kind enough to remove the missed exam from my grading and make a separate marking system for me. I did well in all the courses during first term except Kwan’s class where I got 60 in mid term. I studied a lot for finals and he gave me an A+ (one of the two students who got it) because he knew about my visa struggles and made a decision based on my relative performance. So overall, the teachers were considerate and understanding which helped me in settling to the new country.

Fast forward its been over 18 months, I am done with the rigorous Master’s program but in no way I could say it was an easy ride ! There were so many things I had to learn excluding academics but it was my parents support along with my determination which helped me come this far. Nevertheless, as an international student the struggles and challenges keep coming and its important to keep Strong and not be blown by the wind where the wind could be anything from homesickness, job search, understanding the accent, personal problems etc. Keep Strong and let the time do its thing is what I learned from my journey and the whole purpose of writing this was to motivate the many others who are planing to come to Canada for studying, have got their visa rejected before, having difficulty in studying etc.

*I would love to hear stories of other international students and for aspirants, I am happy to answer any questions related to my experience and guiding in the whole application process.

 

 

Homesick Child

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Homesick Child

Hi to all the bloggers out there. I have been out of touch since ages or even centuries. I tried logging on my blog account on laptop but realized that I have forgotten the username and password both (my memory is to be blamed for it :p). Luckily, I was able to login automatically through the phone and here I am writing. (Dont even know if people still read blogs :p)

I went through the posts I wrote in 2014 when i first started writing and was laughing on how immature I was but still received so many positive comments. Guess we all grew up. It’s now 2019 and good five years have passed by. I have changed multiple cities, countries and even continents all by my self but I still miss the smell of rainy roads of Karachi where I spent 13 years of my childhood. I also miss the 17 year old me, super excited to go back to Pakistan from Saudi and study at LUMS. I had so many dreams and passion to make my own school for the poor girls and contribute to the economy. I realized its difficult to get done at this time with no finance of my own and then after studying so much for the 4 years, I got admission in Canada for Masters on scholarship.

The 21 year old girl came all the way to Canada alone ( probably the few Pakistani girls who come alone to a foreign land). These 16 months have been alot of struggle and I experienced things I never did in life. After tons and tons of networking and even more crying, I finally got internship at a dream bank and have finished the program. But I do get homesick especially when I go and meet families living together. I try to keep myself positive and have faith in destiny but no matter wherever I go and become, I will miss the golden carefree days of childhood wandering on the streets of Karachi and coming home to a big loving family (to my Da, baba, mama and siblings)…

P.S: the photo was taken in Gerrad Street,Toronto where I could feel the bit of  Pakistani culture,for a while..

 

International Students, Identity Crisis and Social Diaspora

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In the modern day and time where the world has shrunk in distance and everyone is connected in the social space, it is common for students from one country to go to another country for the purpose of studying.  Two decades ago, it might have been unusual to do so and it was relatively harder for children especially from the country I come from to  convince parents and/or relatives to send them to a faraway land to seek education assuming  financial resources and the academic requirements weren’t the constraint factors. In the world we live in, people are more aware of the culture and traditions, thanks to the social media and the number of international students have increased tremendously. There is a great emphasis on the exchange programs, teaching and learning of new cultures, culminating the stereotypes and enhancing the exposure of the ‘now’ students. This is a good thing right? Absolutely, it is a great way to become a more tolerant and knowledgeable version of yourself and there was no better time to become globally aware than now.

However, international students are migrants even if temporary and just like other migrants, they too at time face identity crisis. In my opinion, having talked to many of my colleagues, students face greater problems, mental and psychological (compared to the migrated families) which they themselves are oblivious about. Many have great experience living on their own, making friends but also experience loneliness, homesickness, emotional breakdown sudden increase in responsibilities, language/accent barrier, difficulty in finding like-minded people and other issues settling in at some point in their stay. Transition phase might be short or long depending on their personalities but there are common problems every international student could relate to. Talking from my experience so far, I often question my identity as a Pakistani student living in Canada who is not so desi like the students I meet here from Pakistan as I have spent my teenage in Middle East (UAE and Saudi Arabia) but also not so angrez as the Canadian born students with a Pakistani heritage.  These migrations from country to country does lead to confusion, and again the two sides of migrating to developed nations for a better future can be debated for hours. I have seen the elderly missing their heritage and home countries but moved for security and better environment for children.  But there are those who are contented with their move and have no regrets. However, one thing I observed is that migration and re-settlement are difficult and the locals should appreciate and play their role in making the new comers feel at home. For students who are working hard not just academically but finding their path towards permanent residency, trying to find jobs and settle down should be helped by others especially those who were once migrants themselves and have been through the whole phase of identity/social crisis and dealt with it. When I first came here, I tried meeting people from Pakistani society and understand the system, get support but it seems people are busy in their own work and have little time for the new comers. Communities should be welcoming and open for the students belonging from their nation who came on their own and help them connect to the right people, mentors , career counsellor and help keep the culture alive at the same time because one thing impacted the most due to globalization is  amalgamation and blurred uniqueness of different cultures.

 

Journey from India to Pakistan post partition- Story of my grandfather

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My Grandfather was one of the survivors of the partition between India and Pakistan in 1947. I thought of taking a quick interview of him so that the young generation can have an idea of the problems faced by the migrants and that making of a new country meant a lot of sacrifices and therefore a lot of responsibilities for the youth to be taken.

 

please wear headphones to listen. 🙂

Watan ki mithi gawah rehna

 

5 things I learned for which I am thankful

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5  new things I learned/accomplished in the past 3 months for which I am thankful

1) As I have always been busy in my studies, I never used to get time to learn cooking. Nor did I ever bothered trying myself. However this time when I came home and was completely free from studies my mom asked me to learn a few dishes. So, in the past month I have learned making Kaal Masur di Daal ( Black Gram), Moong Masur di Daal (Yellow Gram) and Bhindi (Lady Finger). I am Thankful that at least I learnt a few dishes.

2) Second thing I am thankful of is that the burden of certification is over (for now at least). It was really difficult to prepare myself and read the six volumes of book and retain so much of the material.  As it was my senior year at the university, there were a lot of events and parties and it was hard to study when all my friends were enjoining. So, I am glad that it’s done but I do hope that I pass.

3) Third thing that I learned last month was cycling. As a kid I remember riding a three wheeler but I never learned a bicycle.

4) This Eid, I applied Mehndi/Henna to people at a parlour and earned a good amount out of which I gave a proportion to charity. This was the first time, I donated and I felt really happy. I hope to continue working for social cause in the future as well.

5) I found out one of my closest friend on a social networking site and it was great talking to her after 5 complete years. After high school, she was out of touch with all the classmates, however it was truly a joy re-connecting with her.

Apricot Oil-GoNatural Review

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I was previously using processed oils on my hair such as Amla Oil by Dabur and Coconut Oil by Parachute which have been good for hair growth but they had perfume and other chemicals added. Now that I have become conscious of using only natural ingredients on my hair and skin, I decided to change my hair oil.

This is when I went to AlFatah in DHA Lahore, and saw a huge range of oils by Go-Natural which claims of using 100% pure ingredients that are cold-pressed. I liked its transparent packaging and that one bottle goes a long way. Therefore I bought its coconut as well as Apricot oil and I have absolutely loved both of them.

This was the first time that I used Apricot Oil on my hair but as mentioned on its bottle, it does make my hair soft and shiny. The best thing about apricot oil is that it is absorbed by the hair quickly so the hair doesn’t look oily at all. I apply a little oil on my scalp and the ends, massage it and leave it on my hair for 30-45 mins. This oil is easier to wash and I have noticed hair growth as well. One could also apply the little oil on the hair tips after bath in order to control the frizz without spraying harsh chemicals.

Apricot oil as mentioned on GoNatural’s bottle is rich in Vitamin A and E which promotes hair growth. As it is made of 100% apricot, it is also safe to apply a little amount on the face as a moisturizer as apricot slows the ageing process. This oil is fragrance free and costs around Rs.360.

On the whole, I love this oil and would purchase other oils such as that of Black Seed and Pumpkin from Go-Natural.

DrOrganic shampoo review

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Hey guys,
This is my first beauty product review post.
I love taking care of my hair as it is the most noticeable part of a person and for that I like trying new hair related products. In order to keep my hair soft and free from split-ends, I oil them for 30 mins before every hair wash and will write about my hair-care routine in the coming posts.

I was in search of organic shampoos which are less harsh and are not concentrated with chemicals such as SLS and Paraben since a long time. Yesterday I was in a pharmacy and came across the whole Dr.organic Range. There were various types of shampoos catering to different hair type. The range consisted of Pomegranate, Tea-Tress,Lavender and a 2n1 Sea Salt Shampoo. I was undecided between the tea-tree (considering its antiseptic property) and Lavender and went for the latter one.

It costed be 45 riyals (SR) from a pharmacy,however the same was available at Lulu at a much lower price of 36SR which I saw later.

Dr.organic is famous for using Bio-active ingredients and certified natural extracts. It’s lavender shampoo claims three things:
Strengthening
Restoring
Controlling

Moreover, it has Lavender Oil and AloeVera Leaf Juice as the main ingredients. Although it claims to be free from Parabens,SLS(sodium Lauryl sulphate), artifical colours and Phthalates, it still has a few similar chemicals such as sodium lauroyl sarcosinate, glyceryl cocoate and sodium lauryl glucose carboxylate.

IMG_20170628_030755  IMG_20170628_030720
The shampoo is transparent in color and I really like its packaging. My hair felt cleaner and softer after the first wash and I did notice a decrease in hair fall with its usage over two weeks. Nevertheless, I have to apply a lot of shampoo as it doesn’t lather much. It also doesnt remove oil from my hair even after applying twice.

Overall, I would rate it 3.5/5.
Pros: Has less harsh preservatives and chemicals
Has natural ingredients such as Lavender Oil and Aloe Vera Oil
Makes hair soft and clean
Cons: Little expensive
Doesn’t remove oil and have to apply a relatively greater amount than other
commercial shampoos.

Realization of others

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My four years of undergraduate journey at LUMS have finished. In this course of time, I have observed a lot of people, became friends with a few while others left me in the middle of the journey. These four years life in a hostel, away from family has taught me several things and one of which is realization of others which I felt about writing today.

There were some friends who acted as free-riders in group projects/teamwork without realizing that other person is equally busy with other courses and when ever I used to make them realize, they got angry. Being friends doesn’t mean that you should take the other person as granted, instead a true friend should work equally hard in order to divide the burden.I have often experienced the free-riding/loafing problem which has made me immensely sad. I have also seen a lot of classmates who at the time near exams used to act extra-friendly in order to be given notes and be taught the exam material and acted as complete strangers right after the exams. Although these people have made me think about the nature of human kind and whether the competition of ‘being the best’ makes one not realize the others humans and instead hurt them, I have also been blessed with a few good friends who were always there for me in thick and thin. They have made my journey of LUMS alot more better and would like to thank all of them for their presence in my life.

I believe that life is very short and instead of exploiting others in order to stay ahead in competition, people should not use others for their own gain and leave them once the work is done. We should treat others just the way we want others to treat us as reciprocity or karma is a spiritual principle. If one is taking the help of others,he should be thankful of the other person’s act of kindness instead of forgetting it.

Welcoming 2017

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So I am writing this blog post after four months and 8 days to be exact.
2016 was a fine year except when I look around me and watch the news channel, there was so much trauma happening which I really hope would reduce in this new year. I pray that my Syrian brothers find solace and those seeking refuge in other countries become successful. There were so many air crashes this year with the recent being the the PIA accident and the one in Russia, I pray that may God give the families of these victims patience to bear the loss and I hope that no one dies such an unexpected death. I also pray for all those students studying to pass out with flying colors and make their parents proud. May God bless everyone with good health and guide all of us to follow the good deeds. May the suffering in this world end and everyone gets prosperity.
I welcome 2017 with a beacon of light and lots of hopes.
Wishing all my readers a very happy New Year!!!

Cheers,
Mehak