My Incredible Trip from Pakistan to America

The 40 days I spent in America was such an incredible journey in my life.

america-trip-pakistanIt has been quite a while since I have returned home from America to Pakistan and already I have noticed many changes as a journalist and as an individual.

Before I went to the United States I used to hear that America is the land of learning. However when I arrived there, I truly realized why people say this. I am glad that I was among those lucky people selected for a 40 day journalism program by the United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan (USEFP) to come here and let myself grow.

I asked myself a lot of questions about this country and people the day I landed in the United States. When I was walking down the street to buy my some stuff, I kept on thinking that we have the same roads, same trees, and we inhale the same air. What makes America so different from us?

What makes America so unique?

It took me a while to get answers to these questions, but once I started socializing I received answers to my most of my questions. One of the most important things that I learned was that here people value the time more than anything. People also work to learn not to earn (talking about community services). Moreover, the technology advancement here has made everything much easier for the people.

The few things that really shocked me about American culture was that fruits and vegetables are more expensive than meat and poultry. This clearly explains why the poor is more obese than the rich. You cannot purchase alcohol unless you are 21, however you can buy a gun if you are 18.

Coming from Pakistan, where we just need cash because cards are not accepted at most places, I was really surprised by the cashless system in America. Every place accepts credit cards. Even at sightseeing places where they had no computers, there is some sort of mobile app and a device attached to it which accept credit cards. It was amazing.

Cultural differences

One thing that really amused me is that in America you address your boss by their last name unless you are very frank with them and they allow you to address them by their first name with any title. And this applies to pretty much everyone, regardless of how much older they are than you.

In my country we would never do this. One of the good things was that parents can get arrested for physically punishing their children, whereas in my country usually parents are told to punish their children so they obey you (only in rural area where parents are not literate).

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I also became familiar with couples who adopt children – sometimes couples who already have their own children – and treat them exactly like their own. In spite of the society being openly hedonistic and liberal, the social norms and standards still have very strong conservative religious influences. And the most important thing I found is that people here are amazingly friendly, hospitable and helpful. Yet, they live a very conveniently private lifestyle.

My favorite monuments

Out of all the places that I visited, the Museum of World Treasures in Kansas was my favorite place. It had awesome collections of antiquities from around the world. he exhibits are very informative and many items are remarkably ancient. Two exhibits that I really enjoyed were quotes of all the US presidents and the Roman Empire timeline with ancient coins. The gift shop has unique items which were so expensive that you can’t buy more than one small thing.

I visited the Cathedral of the Plains – also in Kansas – and the beauty of the building is still fresh in my mind.

There were aspects of the building of the Cathedral of the Plains that resembled the building of the Pyramids in Egypt. The Cathedral was erected largely by the labor of the people, without pay, and with the stone they dug themselves and hauled by horse or mule-power. It is notable that the Cathedral was the fifth religious structure built by the early American settlers.

I had such an amazing time spending 40 days in America. It helped groom me as a person, as a writer, as a tourist and a family member (because for the first I was away from my family for such a long time). I knew that life in America would be different but didn’t know that this difference would have such huge positive impact on my personality as well as work.

I really enjoyed the diverse environment of this country and positive attitude of people towards everyone, even the strangers. So I would say what every America would like to hear “God bless America.”

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Mir Behram Baloch is a journalist covering government and social issues in Balochistan.