Want to move abroad? Think again!

While the Spanish girl is 'exotic' your Pakistani child will be called a FOB for wanting to listen to Abrarul Haq.

Eman Cheema April 18, 2013
The life of a middle class Pakistani immigrant overseas is gravely misunderstood by both the people in the immigrant’s homeland and the people in the country to which the immigrant has emigrated.

There are a couple of (read: many) things that are immediately dismissed once it is mentioned that a person is a Pakistani living abroad.

For one, it is often forgotten that moving abroad means starting over- from scratch.

From waiting at the airport for eight hours because of a miscalculation in hotel costs, to renting a basement for immediate accommodation, to living in the basement for approximately six years until you can afford an apartment, to finally being able to buy a small to medium sized house in a semi-safe suburb (because the public schooling and medical facilities are better in a suburb than in the city or countryside) at a ridiculously high mortgage rate, which will take approximately 25 years to pay off.

Starting over from scratch may also apply to one’s academic and professional career, as education equivalency is usually unfair.

It takes years for a Pakistani professional to get a job and attain a salary that his/her profession deserves, in a foreign country.

For instance, a civil engineer may end up driving a taxi for seven years in order to accumulate enough money to pay for his equivalency exams, while feeding his children.

Furthermore, moving abroad does not mean getting rid of politics.

Political grievances of one kind or another exist for anybody, anywhere; regardless of whether they live in Pakistan or abroad.

Another one being discrimination and discrimination can take many forms.

This means that people of other nationalities may be treated better than the Pakistani and this can be seen anywhere- even at a local general store, only because it is a universally acknowledged fact that everybody deserves preferential treatment over Pakistanis.

This may also mean that a Spanish girl at your child’s school may be celebrated for being “ethnic, exotic and cultured” while your Pakistani child will be called a FOB (fresh off the boat) for wanting to listen to Abrarul Haq at lunch.

Oh, and let’s not forget that other countries have economies too. Food is not free in these countries, and jobs are not handed out like wedding invites. Money does not grow on trees- heard that one from my nani as she might have heard from her nani, and it is true.

Moving abroad does not mean becoming wealthy.

While these overseas Pakistanis may tell stories of owning acres of land (which at one point or another was probably sold to fund a family member’s education), and may claim to have found that they trace back to the Mughal dynasty (or the equivalent), they still lead lives in which they have to struggle to make ends meet, and are merely trying to save face in a society that is obsessed with material wealth.

I wish people would stop assuming that life for a Pakistani must be easy if he/she is living abroad, because something about being told that my family and I did not have to work for what we have, as though everything was handed to us on a silver platter, does not sit well with me.

The life of a middle class citizen (who has to work to become a middle class citizen in a foreign country from a lower class citizen) is not easy; not in Pakistan, not in any other country.

Follow Eman on Twitter @TinyFey
Eman Cheema A Lahore-bred, Toronto-bound; life enthusiast, who is aspiring very-many-things, Eman tweets as @TinyFey http://twitter.com/TinyFey
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Lydia Evdoxiadi | 10 years ago | Reply Thank you for this article, I work hand-in-hand on the issue of relocation, life away from home and immigration through personal development material. It is a tough one and I really think that you can go right about where you are going by making an 'Exploratory Visit'. You need to feel you can integrate where you are going to be landing for the long-term. Some locations are more welcoming than others and this also depends on what we are looking for in so many aspects of our lives. The best financial investment you can make is to go on a first visit. GO! It’s very similar to dating. First impressions do matter and as you will be forming a close relationship with your new region, it is worth checking it out. Invest allowable time and an allowable amount of money for this visit. If it does not work out well for relocation purposes, cut your losses quickly and turn it into a great vacation to brag about. I mean get out there and live the best in those days and do some excess partying. If it is a great fit, take that victory also. You can win on different fronts. No matter what the result, aim to come back a winner on at least one front and live in the moment. What does the exploratory visit accomplish? It helps you spend a bit of your precious time and money to create a perception of where you will be landing for a while, especially if it is going to be for a long while. Contrarily to common belief, you do not need to know everything about your new destination; you just need to know enough. If you are looking to find out everything before you move, it is possible that you will put yourself in paralysis analysis. You will find so many ways to scare yourself and have enough material to write memoirs. The worst is that you won’t be able to decide based on the objective data and distinguish the subjective information from third parties. You need to be in touch with the reality and make that judgment call. The how’s fall into place later and with less effort than imagined. This exploratory visit is a minimal and very key investment in both funds and effort and I will key you into the biggest secret about relocation. It is not the surprises that guarantee your success, the initial thrill of the new place, it is the familiarity of the new place and how much of it you can find in the new place to live a balanced life. Familiarity is felt through how good you feel with and about yourself in your new destination. Is the universe working in a synergy with you, or do you feel it is against you? If you feel it is kicking you out, it is probably telling you that you need a better place and there are many places in this universe where we can do very, very well. Places are waiting for you to populate them! Best for All Lydia Evdoxiadi Relocate Smart
Umair | 10 years ago | Reply Thanks for the heads up. ignores article
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