Read our Interview with our exchange student Aakif Sajjad
Aakif Sajjad is a Management Science student in Suleman Dawood School of Business (SDSB) and has had the opportunity to go on an exchange to Middle East Technical University in Turkey for his Spring 2020 semester. We asked a few questions regarding his exchange opportunity and this is what he has to say:
How would you describe your academic experience? What types of courses did you take and what made the academics unique and different to LUMS?
It was a fascinating experience, although challenging as I had to quickly adapt to the new conditions of life across the ocean from home. The different academic requirements and grading system than LUMS at the host university made it a bit trickier. I preferred taking courses focusing more on in class discussions and academic writing requirements which helped me to improve my writing and communication skills. I found instructors very friendly and helpful that assisted me to make my in-class experience a memorable one.
How would you describe your cultural experience on exchange? What new experiences and challenges did you find, and what do you think you learnt from them?
Personally, for me it was the first time I was experiencing another culture first-hand. But it became one of the most impressive and unforgettable experience in my life. The exchange came with a challenge of learning a new language to interact with others but with it I experienced the hospitality of Turkish people and the amazing world-famous Turkish food. Furthermore, I understood the real meaning of global acceptance as I interacted and made friends with students from around the globe.
Did you ever have to act as an ambassador for your country?
I was surprised that quite a significant number of exchange students were not aware of Pakistan and even if they were, unfortunately they had a very negative image of Pakistan in their minds because of the war against terrorism. I showed them the stunning images of northern Pakistan and culturally rich cities which offers mouth-watering food and showed them videos of western tourists travelling and enjoying the hospitality of Pakistanis encouraging them to visit Pakistan.
Has your exchange experience helped you gain an appreciation for how the world is interconnected on all levels (environmental, socio-cultural, and geopolitical)? If so, can you cite specific examples?
COVID-19 has changed our world in ways both small and profound and has certainly displayed, how interconnected the modern world has become. I remember discussing with my friend the disaster coronavirus brought in her home country i.e. Italy and our safety in Turkey and just after two days we were also under lockdown. Walls proved to be futile for preventing the rapid movement of the virus around the globe. However, interconnectedness is also key for the world combating this virus physically and emotionally. Interconnectedness has allowed the world to share positive resources and research with each other that has helped in better combating the virus.
Has your exchange experience helped you gain an ability to communicate effectively within and among diverse cultural groups? If so, can you cite specific examples?
While engaging with students from around the world, the experience helped me to keep an open mind and be more respectable towards the opinions and views of students from diverse background. Moreover, it made me realize that it is better to express our views as opinions instead of facts and be polite while having disagreement about a particular topic.