Antonio Pozas Experiences Islamabad

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Contributed by: Antonio Pozas, Intern from El Salvador

First of all a Little bit about myself, I am a 24 year old Latin American who had the privilege of getting to know several countries and cultures in my short life, got to know several lifestyles and was always intrigued at the opportunity of getting to visit a new country. Right after my university graduation a very unique proposition came upon me; a 6 month internship opportunity presented itself to me in Pakistan, a country which had a terrible reputation security-wise in the eyes of the world.

I thought to myself before accepting the internship, a country with hundreds of years of history can’t be as bad as the media portrays it, and it was then that I decided to see for myself what was is like to experience this culture.

I arrived to Islamabad the first week of February, uncertain on what awaited me: what will the local’s perception of me would be, how safe the country is actually or what life was going to be like the six months that awaited me. I was in for a surprise. Since I’ve been here every day has been full with new experiences, and the one that amazed me the most are the people. The Pakistani hospitality is amazing, from the people who came up to receive me at the airport to my work colleagues and AIESEC, the organization who arranged my internship, all have been great to me; always offering me to take me along to experience food, the local hangouts and show me around the city. Perhaps it is because of the same reason that almost every day I’ve been here was a day full of discovery: meeting new people, trying new food and find a country that is so different yet as similar to our own cultures, not an unsafe land as portrayed by the media.

I am about to reach my first month in the country, and I couldn’t be more pleased; I have safely walked around the city, marveled at the incredible landscapes the country has to offer, enjoyed my first days at the internship and my initial concerns about coming here are gone. In the coming months I will try to integrate and live life as one more of the citizens in Islamabad. One must not forget of course, that meeting a new culture brings about a set of culture shocks, positive, negative and funny, but that is a story I will share with you later. As for now I leave you with the following questions: How many people who think Pakistan is one of the unsafest countries in the world have even contemplated the thought about visiting the country? And could Pakistan actually be such a dangerous place, or is it just the portrayal the media has given to us?

If anything, I thought to myself: Pakistan has indeed some security issues, but how does that differ from the drug cartels in Mexico, the gangs in Central America or the terrorists in Sochi? I can only conclude that although I heard from the locals that there are indeed unsafe areas in the country, there are as well places where both foreigners and locals go about their lives casually, not concerned at all about going out to the streets as many think. I find it a shame that such culture-rich land is not visited by more tourists than it deserves.

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