Immigrant stories: coming to America

Yabi Bereket, Internationals Editor

Senior Maryam Atique first came to the United States from her native country, Pakistan, in 2006 when she was only five years old.
The trip from Pakistan to America was two days long and stopped in Saudi Arabia on the way.
On the trip, she arrived with her parents and three siblings, alumnus Rida and Areeba, and freshman Minhaj Atique. Once they arrived, they moved straight away to Annandale, Virginia and have stayed in the area ever since.
“I remember the feeling of how quiet everything was when I first came here,” Atique said. “I felt lonely since most of my family lived in Pakistan and [they] still do [to this day.]”
Besides the feelings of loneliness and isolation from her family in Pakistan, Atique was still able to remain observant of her surroundings. She noticed that there were many sharp contrasts between the two countries.
“The outside life in Pakistan is more lively [and] the streets are filled with people, and lots of busy markets. But here, it’s quiet and more conserved,” Atique said.
Atique also took notice of the differences in the education system between the two.
‘“[In Pakistan], students usually graduate in 10th grade. Then, they go to a university of their choice,” Atique said.
Despite this, there are similarities with education as well. For example, many of the core classes are very similar in Pakistan since they teach the basic core classes, like simple algebra and basic biology.
However, in Pakistan, students must also learn Urdu, the official language, and the history of their country, Pakistan.
“When I came to the U.S. I knew some basic English because of the classes I had to take back home. It was still hard at times,” Atique said.
Since her arrival to the United States, Atique has visited Pakistan twice. Her second visit was most recently, during winter break this school year.
During the one month-vacation, Atique traveled with her sisters to visit family and friends, whom she had not seen in years.
“The trip was very fun since I got to see my family. It was shocking to see the difference in lifestyles especially since I haven’t been there in six years,” Atique said.
Even though Atique was happy to make the trip, it wasn’t easy for her to adjust to the hectic lifestyle.
Despite this, it did not stop Atique from visiting historical sites in Pakistan, such as different forts which were used in Pakistan during wars and battles.
For Atique, the only thing which she truly misses from Pakistan is seeing all of her family.
When Atique first came to the U.S., she had to say goodbye to all of her aunts, uncles, and cousins who all still live in Pakistan.
“I love the energy when I’m with my family because there is never a boring day, but I don’t get to see them often,” Atique said.
Even though it was hard for Atique and her family to leave family behind, they came to America for the opportunity of a good life, which Atique received.