Posted on: January 1, 2018 Posted by: Iqbal Mirza Comments: 0

LUMS offers you various opportunities to make the most out of your four year long journey, from suggesting possible internship places to providing avenues to socialize with a diverse group of individuals. You come here as a naive freshman, and learn to live with the constant pressure of meeting deadlines and networking your way through the world of Luminites. Gradually, you acclimatize in this new world, maybe get the stellar GPA that you promised your parents a year ago, and make new friends. But at the end of the road, a part of you might yearn for new experiences, that the standard trips to Mushkpuri cannot fulfill. You would want to open up to ideas, cultures and practices alien to you. If you want to start a journey outside of university’s humdrum life,then  LUMS offers various Exchange Programs that enable you to experience a new culture, learn its history and grow as an individual, in just one semester.

LUMS is affiliated with numerous universities across the globe, including University of Glasgow, University of Passau and Simon Fraser University. According to the OSA, Waseda University in Tokyo and the University of Applied Sciences in Austria are the two fully funded exchanges, so naturally they are also the ones that are more popular among Sophomores and Juniors. Other exchange programs which require independent financing but are still very popular with students are the ones offered by American Universities.

The procedure to apply for an exchange program is fairly simple, so rest assured you will not drown in an avalanche of recommendation forms and transcripts. An interested student would need to submit a Statement of Purpose that is emailed by the OSA, and it is later marked by a panel of faculty members who review it. A statement of purpose should highlight the student’s purpose, drive and motivation for applying to the respective program. One of the more crucial facets of the application procedure is the academic standing of the applicant, so most of the programs have GPA cut-offs that must be fulfilled to qualify for the exchange.

The panel that sits to evaluate the application form also takes the student’s disciplinary status into account. The committee favours people who are not only have a strong academic footing, but are also involved in extracurricular activities happening around the campus.

Numerous students have attended exchange programs in the past, and given rave reviews of their time during the exchanges. Hajra Shahab was one of those students, she went on an exchange to Waseda University and studied at the School of International Liberal Studies. According to Hajra, “while living in Japan, I not only explored this beautiful country but also ended up exploring myself. Learning the Japanese language opened doors to a new world altogether. Japan, as a country is a perfect blend of traditions and modernism and I feel blessed to have witnessed this in person”. Hajra’s journey was exhilarating enough to make her life back in LUMS “challenging”. In her words, “five months were enough for me to reflect upon life and a lot changed within me during this time and it got hard because I left a part of me in Japan and when I came back I couldn’t relate to most of the things around me”.

Similarly, Saniya Raza was effusive in her praise of her time at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, Georgia. She was sent as part of the Global Undergraduate Exchange Program (UGRAD), which is a fully funded program for Pakistani students who are interested in spending their semester in any state university. The process for the UGRAD program involves filling an online application, after which an applicant gives an interview in Islamabad and gets selected upon clearance of the TOEFL exams. Suniya remembers being “nervous about being placed in the south given the political environment of the US at the time, but to her surprise “everyone was extremely supportive and helpful”. According to these experienced luminites, even though nostalgia might become your companion abroad ( and you might miss khoka’s tea in winters) , it will only get better once you make foreign friends who take you to exciting places.

Osama Malik, a BS accounting major went to Ohio Weslayan College earlier this year. Just like Suniya, Osama was also nervous about going to the USA. However, he describes how his views changed for the better, “my journey from Pakistan to a new home finally began in January 2017 when we arrived to Washington, D.C. For the first few days at the orientation, I felt rather stiff and reserved as it was a foreign country, foreign language and everything was new. But in a few days I got used to the peculiarities of speech, new people and talked freely. Soon I realized America is different from what I had seen on the silver screen. It’s a much better, more hospitable place”.

The purpose of these exchange programs is to pop our little LUMS bubble and help us establish bonds and experience new things in foreign land. The students who went on these exhilarating trips found OSA and faculty members to be helpful, from filling applications for aid to collecting their boarding passes. So if you have a yearning to taste new cuisines, befriend foreign students, improve your communication skills, then don’t ignore OSA’s emails cluttering your account. Because life shouldn’t just be limited to LUMS’s cemented walls.

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