Winter Breaking

For starters, I am done with my first semester at college and it went by pretty fast, as promised by my sophomore friends.

And I have this delicious longer-than-a-month break stretching ahead of me and I don’t know what to do with myself. For once in my life I feel energized and not-lethargic during a long break. I feel like taking back my life.

Segway to a moment in New York City a few weeks back–

It’s a nice dinner and small talk is being made. We are midway in a group conversation and a nice boy asks me what my hobbies are/what I like to do. And I shrug and list off my staples. “Reading, writing, music, movies..”

And he pauses and comments, “Oh, so the usual. Nothing special.”

I wasn’t in the mood to elaborate so I said, “Yeah, okay.”

This conversation came back to me a few nights ago and started to bother me. Is that list of activities really all that I am? Probably not, but I still needed to map it all out to convince myself.

Do I even have the right to call myself a reader anymore? For the past 3 years, I have only been able to read a handful of novels and those too only in the summers, when schoolwork is not grating on my nerves. And even when I read, it’s nothing to write home about. It’s either trashy YA or something ordinary and un-amazing. I have not read majority of the staples that a well-read person should have checked off ages ago.

Can I honestly call myself a writer? I update this blog maybe thrice a year and I write nothing besides that, although I do dream up things to write every single day and every single car-ride, hoping I’ll build up the will to start someday soon.

So even if I were to stretch the truth and insist on being considered a reader and a writer, I still cannot assert that I am well-read or that I’m a committed writer.

But let me not take all this completely lying down.

I do have real interests. All that time and energy I put into theatre during high school was not for college applications – it was all because I loved it. I can sing. I host a radio show on weekends at college, I like going to watch plays and I have a specific taste in music. I don’t just listen to whatever comes on – I pick and curate playlists for myself.

It’s not all bad and bland.

However, all that being said, I think it is definitely time to explore some new interests.

I want to try tennis. I want to start reading classic novels, something I ran from as a kid. I want to start writing stories, another thing I never properly pursued. I would always leave stories half-finished when I was younger. I also want to get a nice camera and start photography. Also filming shorts. (This last one I really want to try.)

I think I can start on the photography pretty soon because college lets you borrow professional cameras from the media center.

All I hope for now is that I am able to maintain my motivation and will-power and actually go ahead with all of this.







Third Week of Classes

I can’t believe I’m already in my third week at Smith College.

Now I think I’ll fall back on my trusty method of just listing down the barrage of thoughts and feelings I’ve been holding back and haven’t had the time or mental presence to spew.

So here goes:

  • I am taking a Logic class, an elementary German class, a 200-level Development Econ class and a writing intensive Theatre class called Film and Performance Criticism. I also managed to squeeze in this lecture series called Global Financial Institutions.
  • I am working 7 hours a week and planning on taking it up to 8 or 9 hours a week.
  • The experience of ‘missing home’ is very strange and half the time I don’t realise I miss it. I honestly don’t think I do. I might occasionally miss my little brother and my parents, but that too only when I think really hard about life.
  • I miss junk food from back home. I keep converting packs of Cheetos into PKR prices and it gives me a sinky feeling. Because why the hell would I want to pay $1.25 for a Cheetos?! That’s about Rs 130! It hurts.
  • Lamont is a nice place to work. It’s pretty and one of the workers keeps offering to make me smoothies out of the weirdest combinations of fruit and vegetables.


  • Tuesdays are great days. I have just one class, and a 50 minute lecture and I’m done and it’s blissful.
  • My roommate and I have started to open up to each other and the conversation gets longer every day. She likes Doctor Who and comic books and I plan on being mostly educated about the comic book universe by the end of this year.
  • I feel like I’ve experienced a shit-load of this college already. I’ve studied in two libraries, I’ve booked myself a study carrell, I’m toting around six library rental books and I have eaten at nearly half of all the dining halls on campus. I have also lost my phone twice and my Campus ID card once. (All three instances were terrifying, particularly the first instance, because I was without my phone for 14 hours, through the entire night.) I have complained about assigned reading loads, about papers, about professors, I have added and dropped classes and made use of the ‘shopping period’. I feel like such a typical college kid. When did this happen.
  • I met a friend from 1st grade! This is one of the craziest things that happened. We hadn’t met in about 7 or 8 years, ever since I moved out of that city. And I thought it was ridiculous that we hadn’t been able to meet up in our country but were reunited in a foreign country, at colleges just a short bus-ride away from each other. I’m looking forward to spending a night or two in her dorm on some upcoming weekend. Sleepovers like old times.
  • I got caught in a rainstorm last week. That was a mess. I haven’t been caught in heavy rain in years. There are many reasons for this, primarily because it rarely rains heavily in Karachi and whenever it does I am always conveniently at home. And so at college, where I have to walk everywhere and don’t have a car – it really rained on me. Thank everything good – I am a responsible child and was carrying an umbrella in my backpack. But my leggings still got pretty wet and my socks were partially soaked.
  • I had a typical online shopping experience! This was exciting and I probably sound super sad talking about it this way but whatever. I finally have my own plastic to flash.

I have a ton of other updates, but I really need to get on with my German homework. I realise this ended up sounding like a really long diary entry but I’m proud of myself for finally sitting down and recording my thoughts. So much happens every day and I have had so many thoughts these past weeks which have already been forgotten and wasted. As long as I am writing, I’m happy.

Day 3 In My New World

Let me start off by saying I am grateful for family.

Now that I have officially left home for the first time, successfully traveled internationally on my own for the first time – switched flights successfully and gone through a three-hour long immigration – and basically just experienced a bunch of other first times – I feel a bit weird.

As if there is a rope tied around my waist, but its connecting me to nothing anymore.

I’m definitely not experiencing the full effects of moving abroad yet because I had family a few hours from where my college is, and they were kind enough to take care of me for a few days before international student orientation.

breakfast view

I’ve never met these relatives before, but I feel so at home. Day 3 is going good so far and I didn’t have to deal with too much jet lag. There was definitely exhaustion after the 48 hours of no sleep while I was traveling, but I made up for some of that with 11 hours of sleep at night, all according to US timings. That was a win.

And while I am recording my first few days’ experience here, can I just say my favorite part is the TREES? I did not expect that.  I’m in a cute town in New Jersey, and all I stared at on the drive from JFK Airport to New Jersey was the greenery. Also let me put it out there that the spaced-out roads and open space reminded me of Islamabad and the greenery was somewhat like Lahore. The traffic was like a more civilized version of what I endured on roads in Karachi for the past couple of years.

Other noteworthy things include:

  • JFK airport staff is surprisingly unhelpful even if they see you are close to tears because you haven’t slept in 36 hours, just came out of a three hour immigration line where you were fighting to stay awake, and can’t find your luggage and are terrified you will have no clothes for college and collapse in exhaustion. They are quite unhelpful and tell you to wait for someone from your airline to attend to you. Even if you have to wait the whole damn night (I’m assuming.)
  • JFK TSA (if that’s who they were) folk are nice to you if you look half-asleep and like a weakling who can’t shove your baggage onto the security ramp.
  • It helps to have both origin times and destination times on you for at least a few hours after you land. I kept referring to my phone for US timings and to my watch for Pakistan timings and to be honest, that was all that kept me busy during immigration. Just thinking about how my parents were up at 3am back home, waiting to hear from me after immigration was done.
  • Jersey sweet corn is actually sweet.
  • All the houses and motels along the highway look like something out of a storybook or a movie, with small, raised front porches and triangular roofs from my kindergarten drawing pages.
  • I saw one of these houses and imagined a shirtless man with a paunch and rolls under his neck, staring angrily at traffic and THEN I SAW HIM TWO HOUSES DOWN. Movie depictions are real, so far. Amen.
  • The Point Pleasant beach and boardwalk is so picturesque. It would probably be wild if you were on a hallucinogenic drug or something and roamed among the arcade games and small kiosks set up.
  • Martell’s has great fried calamari finger food. I would go back there if only it served in a quieter environment where I could dig in, with a propped-up book and a view of the beach. I would probably still go back there despite the noise – God bless finger food.
  • Outdoor outlet malls are so pretty?! I don’t know the name or exact location of the one I visited but it was pretty and that’s all that’s important.
  • Sheep under your window can be quite loud if you live in a quiet neighborhood with little or no traffic.
  • THE DISCOUNTS ARE INSANE?? Remind me to grab all the discount and awards cards. Bargains are bloody thrilling. My winter boots went down from 55 bucks to $20 or something. (?!)

That should be about a good run-down of my first three days. Maybe I’ll keep updating here, just to document my transition into this new life with college and culture shocks and crazy-ass discounts.

Oh and if anyone decides to read this and lives in the US, hit me with any advice you might have for an international kid in the US!

GUYS! I’m going to college!

Senior year is coming to a close and I’m days away from my last ever school exams! (I still have my A-Levels to go through in May/June but-) School’s over!

Everyone is either suffering from major senioritis and not leaving their homes because no willpower or just frantically making up for lost time and getting as much hang-out time with friends as they can because we’re all heading off to college in a few months. Granted, there’s still more than four months left before we even start packing and very few of us have visas and all but still. The last thing anyone wants to do is buckle down and study but I’ve been trying.

I applied early to Smith College back in November and I got in! I’ve landed a great scholarship and committed to them, so I’ll be heading to Northampton in August.

The thought of this HUGE transition is mostly why I can’t concentrate on my Market Structures notes to save my life.


I’ve never visited the US before so it’ll just be a slew of first-times for me in August. Temporarily moving out, living alone, new country, new people, COLLEGE..

I’ve been spending most of my time either worrying about the future or searching NoHo and Smith College geotags on Instagram and obsessing over how cute everything is. Also, Amherst College is nearby and I’m hoping for some nice smart boy eye-candy, because I plan on taking a few classes there in my second year.


On a more serious note, a lot of my anxiety and fear also stems from this trainwreck of a presidential campaign in the US, because Donald Trump. I’m a Muslim and I’m from Pakistan and that should be enough to explain my concern. I’m sick and tired of explaining to people how generalizations are plain cruel at this stage, but what can one do.

On that worrying note, I’ll sign off and give studying another try.

Why I Don’t Drink

Just came across this article and I was just mentally screaming YES throughout – so I had to share.

No, I don’t drink. Yes, I know how to have fun.

The only part I’d add to this is that yes, my religion does forbid it and sometimes I am haunted by the question of whether I would be into drinking had I not been born a Muslim. Because I can’t say whether my aversion to alcohol has to do with who I am as a person and my personality or has to do solely with my religion. I would honestly like to think the former because going with the latter would suggest that I had to consciously suppress an urge to drink because I am religious. But for now let’s just say, I would not have been into drinking even if I were not a Muslim because drinking just always felt unnecessary to me.