Category Archives: My amazing journeys

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.

 

 

In the middle of the sky

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Mesmerized and awestruck by how beautiful God’s earth is. The blueness of the sky,the freshness of the clouds and the greenery of the land felt like a dream.

Niagara falls visit 2016

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Hello peeps. Yesterday I went to Niagara falls with my sister and cousin and I must say that the falls were beyond amazing. Experiencing it was so much better than what I saw in videos or photos, it can not be expressed in words. We went all the way from Whitby to Niagara on the lake which was a 2 hours journey. The weather was cool and the scenery was breathtaking. There were vine trees and green houses on the way making every area better than the previous. After doing the boat cruise and cheering at the Americans on the other side, we went to Clifton hill and took a five attractions pass. Overall it was a great trip and to everyone going to Canada as a tourist, visiting Niagara falls should be in the top of the list. Here’s some pictures of the trip.

IMG_20160719_034340IMG_20160719_034208Bridge connecting Canada and USIMG_20160719_041757.

Lahore, you are going to be missed

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I have created some amazing memories living in Lahore for almost three years which I would cherish for the rest of my life. It’s a small, beautiful city with greenery on both sides of the road  all the way from DHA to Canal view. I loved the experience of living as an independent person and going out for cold coffee to beat the extreme heat of summers in rickshaw. The food in Lahore is amazing especially the chicken kebabs and meetha paan which I ate at  food street and stuff chicken of gourmet. It’s a city with rich history and I enjoyed visiting Badshahi mosque, minar -e-pakistan, fort and various other historical monuments which made me re-live the moghul history. Often on my way back from internship, I used to see buffalos and kids showering in the canal. As a person who loves traditional things, I will miss wandering in shops to find the right bangles,paranda, kola puri sandels and the embroided clothes especially near eid season. Being surrounded by people who all speak my own language made me feel comfortable although at a subconscious level.

I am really gonna miss this city when I leave it after an year but I am glad I got to live here. 😀

two and a half year of university done

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I haven’t been able to write any blogs since almost an year as I had numerous projects to finish. Now that I am on a 5 days spring break, I thought of finally writing another post.

So peeps, its been almost 3 (actually two and a half years) of my university and I already feel sad that the university life is about to finish soon. At first, I used to think of getting all the semesters to be  done  with fast so that I can go back to where my family but now I want the time to slow down. The feeling of leaving your friends with whom you have spent your hostel life, the late night gossips and ordering of food at midnight and leaving behind all the amazing memories is depressing.

On a positive side, I have learned a lot of new things in these years. How to handle the pressure of studies, research and projects work have made me a better and a responsible person. Apart from studies, I have learned how to bargain with the rickshaw walas as my friends and I often go for shopping 😛 Also I now know how to negotiate with the shop keepers which previously my mom used to do. University life has made me an independent person.Also, I have started loving Lahore so much that I dont feel like leaving it. It is  a beautiful historic city of Pakistan and I find it very peaceful.

Now that only an year is left, I need to start preparing for the Gmat in order to get to a good grad-school or maybe get good job. Lets see what happens!

P.S if you have suggestions for a good grad univiersity, let me know

My experience of living in Saudi Arabia

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I have lived about four years in Al-Khobar which is one of the  peaceful cities of Saudi Arabia and wanted to share my experience with all those who are planning to and have lived there. I did my O and A- Levels from there and  had quite a difference experience if I compare it with my life in Pakistan. I consider my self lucky to have lived in Saudi Arabia because I was able to visit the holy places- Makkah and Madina almost after every six months. Moreover, I got to explore a lot of deserts and different kind of mountains along the highway. On the route from Dammam to Riyadh there are red mountains which darkens as we move further and turn completely black with gold mines near Jeddah. Although its hard to find greenery but there are always  lots of camels on the sides of the highway.  The locals love their camels so much that there is a fine of thousands of riyal if anyone hits a camel on highway so we always had to be careful.

On the contrary, the weather is hot most of the times and sometimes wearing Abaya (a black gown compulsory for women) in the scorching sun annoyed me. Though most of the times, I felt abaya as a blessing as it didn’t require me to change clothes and dress up every time I had to go out. Other thing is that all the shops close down during the prayer time which I have never seen happening in other Muslim countries. I found it to be a good thing as it motivates people to leave all their work and pray.

Moreover, there are separate family and bachelors section in all the restaurants and women are not allowed to talk to any non- Mahram otherwise Muttawa’s are always there to give lectures. Also, women are not allowed to drive which is considered peculiar by many. However when in compound, a women can drive on her own. One more thing, there are no cinemas in Saudi Arabia so when ever we had to watch a new movie, we had to go to Bahrain…yes, a different country just for that.

Overall, I found the country to be safe and peaceful. I consider it as a good experience of my life.

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A memorable trip

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So it was the first time I was travelling alone and coming from Lahore to Dammam after the end of semester.I was so excited to meet my parents and siblings that I did all my packing two days before going. Moreover I reached airport 3 hours before the flight timings.However the weather was foggy and I had a feeling hat something wrong will happen and it did. t 7 pm there was an announcement that come to gate no.24 where we were informed that due to the foggy weather, he plane was unable to land and instead it has now gone to Karachi so kindly either go home or wait if you want to get a hotel.I felt so sad as it meant to live one more day without my mom 😦 Anyhow because the hostel was entirely empty as everyone has already left for their homes so I had no other option but to take hotel. Worse still there were very few ladies and the rest were men.Also most of the ladies did not even knew Urdu properly but thankgod I met two girls in the car on our way to the airport which provided me with the confidence.Finally we arrived in the ‘Crown Plaza Hotel’ which was a lot better than I expected.Never the less the dinner was not free and then I bought a burger of 45o rupees which did not taste so good.I was so sleepy but the two girls and I talked till the morning and then they took us to the airport at 8 am.Just imagine that we had to sit in the airport for almost 8 hours.I felt that today even we wont be able to go and finally the staff announced at 4;30 in the afternoon that your flight is ready to depart. This announcement gave me immense joy as finally I would be able to go back home for 3 weeks.It was a 5 hours long flight almost which ended my journey and I came to Saudia Arabia.I really wish that there is no such problem or fog when I go back to Lahore.

last five days left in saudiarabia…

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Life continues to move on and on.It brings new challenges and oppurtunities in everyones life.There are some difficult,gloomy moments but they too gets passed.All that remains with us are our memories-some bad and some good.

It was in Febuary,2009 when I came to Saudia Arabia.My dad got a job in a community college in Hafr.Shifting from Karachi-a huge metropolitan city to a small alien town was very difficult for me.I left all my friends(which I still miss)and came to a place where everyone spoke Arabic and I knew nothing.

For first three months I had no internet and neither did I make any friends in the small school in Hafr.Finally my dad decided to shift our family to Dammam-which is a big city and has all the facilities.It took me more than a year to adjust myself in the new environment.I changed school which was a lot better and made some friends.

Time passed by too quickly that I didn’t realize.It now been more than 4 years in KSA alhamduillah and its now time to say goodbye and to go back to my country inorder to continue my studies.I have mixed feelings as it really difficult to readjust my self in Pakistan.

Some of the best things that I like about Saudia Arabia are:

1.I could go to Makkah and Madina at any time of the year which was so expensive from Pakistan.I am very happy that God gave me an opportunity to come to his home for Umrah several times.I’ll really miss this.

2.My family and I went to Jordan,UAE,Bahrain and Dubai by road from KSA.The high ways here are awesome and there are good restaurants at stops.I was able to visit so many countries from here.:)

3.KSA is a corruption free country.At least there are no streat crimes here unlike Pakistan

Well,I am gonna miss this chapter of my life.I really wish that the next chapter of my life will be much better and full of cherishable memories.

Muree,Pindi and Islamabad

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In 2005 we went to Lahore.In the same trip we took the Daewoo bus and went to Islamabad.It was a 4 hours journey and the motorway was very well constructed.Islamabad was so clean and green.I had never seen such greenery in Karachi.We all were so tired and were half sleeping,so couldn’t see the view properly.All I remember is that in was night(late evening)when we reached the central islamabad.We took the taxi and went to the Faisal Mosque.After that we asked the same taxi driver to take us to Murree which is about 58 km from Islamabad.We trip the whole time in taxi.Just imagine what would happen if the driver took us somewhere else or would have kidnapped us.Anyways Murree is located in the Northern part of Pakistan.It is a hilly area and the weather was very pleasant.At first I thought that the mountain is covered with snow cap but later I came to know that it was just the smoke when I went near it.We sat on the Chair lift in Patrita.It was so much fun.My memories about this trip are as vivid and clear as if it was just yesterday that all this happened.I really wish that I can revisit Murree again with my family.(Ameen)

A trip to Lahore-for the very fist time (2005)

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We had spring holidays for a week.My dad is an adventurous person and he loves to make some random plans.At the first day of our holidays,there was a blast in Karachi and a cerfuw was put on the whole city.It meant that no one was allowed to come out of their homes.We were so bored so my dad decided to go to Lahore for 5 days.I forgot to mention that people were allowed to go to airport and hospitals.

Me and my siblings were extremely excited as it was the first time we were sitting in the plane.I had visited airport 100s of times but just to pick and drop my relatives and I had always wondered what it was to be inside the airport.We hurridly packed our clothes in our school bags since we had no suitcases(It was an unplanned trip) and went to Jinnah International Airport,Karachi.

Those were the times when I had no tension of studies and external board exams as I was just in grade 5.Since it was a domestic flight so we got the tickets immediately and we went in the lounge.The airport was huge and well-organized from the inside.

We got the tickets of Aero Asia(which is now closed) and went inside the plane.Now me and my siblings were fighting on who is going to sit on the window side because we all wanted to see the view when the plane is taking off and landing.Well it was decided that I will sit on the seat during its taking off.My sister will exchange and sit on the window seat during landing and my brother will sit the next time when we would be coming back.

Now the most funny part was when the plane was taking off.I started screaming as the plane went under a slight turbulence.The airhostress came and calmed me down.how embarrassing.And how can I forget the food…it was delicious although I don’t remember what it was exactly.

After we reached Lahore,my dad took the bus from the airport and took us to Minar-e-Pakistan.It was amazing to see a monument which I had seen in my history books.Then we went to Badshahi mosque , Shahi Qila and the Wagah border.I had a great time.Lahore was so green and it had a natural beauty.I sat on Chingi(a cycle rickshaw)for the first time.

The most memorable place in Lahore was the food street.There were about hundred restaurants in a line and the mesmirising smell of food urged me to taste most of the things.We ate hareesa,baked fish,chicken tikka and katakat.We stayed in our aunts home for 3 days.I also shopped from Liberty and fortress stadium.It was a remarkable trip overall.