Intisar Nasir is an international Drake student from Pakistan. An actuarial science major, Nasir is just completing his first semester here in Des Moines. He gives us a firsthand look into the conflicts of the Middle East.
Q: Let’s just start from the beginning, I guess. Where are you from?
A: I lived 13 years in one city, then four years in the other. And just before moving here I lived for four months in another. Thirteen years in Karachi, some five years in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. And currently I was living in Lahore.
Q: What’s it been like here in America? What’s your general opinion?
A: Of course, compared to Pakistan, it’s good. Life is more meaningful — you can do more. If you want, you can make a difference. You have the right where your voice matters. I mean, even if you say something just among friends, the culture is so different here. People listen to you. When you talk, people take you seriously. That’s one thing that is the most different. The standard of living here is high of course — you don’t get those problems you have in Pakistan like electricity. Quality wise, America is good, very well off. People are more civilized and education has a big part to play. You won’t get crazy things said by people every day. And religion…that affects me the most. I mean, there are so many, and frankly no one cares about my religion. So that’s the one thing that’s most important for me, the freedom of religion. I’m a religious Muslim so I can do something freely, I can say something freely. Here’s the thing — some people will say people in America are more nice. Some people say back home they are nice. The thing is, back home, wherever your home is, you feel comfortable there because it’s your people. Of course if I could get more Pakistanis here I would be happier. But there’s nothing wrong with life over here. For me, it’s perfect. And that’s something I keep saying every day. Americans, things they consider problems…‘We have to do this, we have to do this.’ Well you don’t realize how good life is here. A guy from Pakistan wouldn’t bother at all with what the government is doing.
Q: Are there any challenges in getting the opportunity to study abroad? Is there a lot of interference and red tape?
A: No, there aren’t problems when people would say ‘no.’ No one cares. No one says, ‘Why are you going abroad?’ Actually, people say you’re very lucky you’re going abroad. I mean, the challenges were more financially. Let’s be clear here: a dollar here is like 86 rupees, and $25,000 annually means 2 million rupees, you know? Financially, things are tight. My father…because it was my dream — I wanted to become an actuary — that’s what parents do. I owe it to them, you know? And I just don’t want to fail here. I want to be a good one (actuary).