China, Canada and Europe – Komail the (very) international student’s experiences!
Name: Komail Naqvi
University: UBC Sauder School of Business, BCom 2012
Specialization: Marketing and Transportation Logistics
Nationality: Pakistan and Canada
Employment: Professional Freelance Photographer
.. Advice for students considering studying abroad?
Travel with an open mind and perspective. It’s very likely that you will encounter cultures, customs and norms quite different from yours; instead of trying to resist them embrace them while staying true to your own values and character.
Studying in Canada has been a great experience for me. It wasn’t a big culture shock for me and I was pleasantly surprised by the degree of hospitality that was extended towards me. Academically UBC has consistently challenged me to gear up my skills, and pushing the envelope has seemed to be the key to success. Knowledge is without a shadow of a doubt one of the greatest assets one can possess, so make like a sponge and absorb as much as you can
.. As an accomplished photographer, how did you benefit from your trip to Shanghai last summer?
The art of photography has always fascinated me. I remember getting my very own DSLR a few years ago, holding the camera and instantly realizing that I had a long road ahead of me before I could start producing the kind of stills I used to endlessly flip through in magazines and online. The learning curve is indeed steep but China changed that for me. That adventure in particular catapulted my ability to understand the various technical aspects ranging from lighting, compositions and perspectives. China is the perfect canvas for a photographer. The best part of that experience was simply the extent of exposure to China and its picturesque cities.
… Differences between Shanghai and Canada?
Shanghai is a thriving and electrifying city, with traditions and customs quite different from Canada but at the same time it has evolved as a global city, integrating a mosaic of cultures from around the world. China has a very strong collective culture which spills over into daily life and day-to-day business interaction. Certain norms of behavior are expected and practiced, and if you deviate from these it’s likely that you will end up offending someone, without even realizing it. However, this is probably the same in many cities in this world. If you travel, study or work in a place other than your home country you are welcomed as a guest and, in return, you should take the initiative to not only learn but also understand and respect the local customs.
… How has studying abroad benefitted you so far – personally and/or professionally?
Studying and living in Pakistan, Canada, China and now Europe has allowed me to pocket different lenses from which to view the world and experience the cultures within it. Developing networking relationships and friendships with students, colleagues, business professionals and locals from all nationalities imaginable are things I would never have had the opportunity to achieve had I not travelled and studied abroad. The world has everything to offer and more, if you only reach out for it.
… What was the most interesting thing that happened during your travels?
As part of the Shanghai Summer Program last year we were introduced to Mandarin on an intensive five-week course. It was a lot easier to pick up than I had expected, largely due to my local friends who constantly helped me with my struggle. When I was returning to Pakistan after the program completed, I took a one-hour taxi ride from the hotel to the airport. I only realized at the end of the drive that I had been talking to the driver the entire time in Mandarin! This was the highlight of my whole trip; I was able to interact, laugh and actively engage with a person from a completely different culture in an entirely new language.
… So you plan to study in Europe this summer? What are your plans?
It’s a similar summer program to the one I did last year in China. Manchester Business School schedules various lectures relating to the structure of the European Union, company visits and tours spanning numerous cities across Europe. This year we are travelling to Manchester, London, Prague, Barcelona, Grenoble, Avignon and Paris. I had always planned to go backpacking across Europe and this program offered the perfect opportunity.
.. What are you looking forward to next?
I have been lucky enough to have had a chance to travel to many countries across the globe and meet people from all walks of life. However, I have my eyes set on my next adventure: South America. Keep an eye out for me on your TV sets during the FIFA 2014 World Cup in Rio!
Interview by Shivani Mukerji