Student shares Pakistan culture

Anne Walkup, Staff writer

A student from Pakistan has never attended Linfield until this year. According to Madhurita Valleja, the first from her county to study at Linfield, there’s a reason for this.

“People in Pakistan don’t really travel, not even within the country,” Valleja said. “The first time I’d ever traveled was to America.”

Valleja is studying abroad at Linfield this year through a leadership program affiliated with her University in Pakistan. She gave a detailed presentation about her culture and life in Pakistan and her experience studying abroad in the U.S. on Wednesday afternoon in the Riley Campus Center.

And travel she certainly did. Valleja said that she’s gotten the opportunity to travel all around the U.S. this year, from New York City to San Fransisco to Las Vegas, and seemingly everywhere in between.

“I’ve loved traveling. I’ll want to keep doing it after I return to Pakistan,” Valleja said in response to an audience member, who asked her if she’d continue to travel even though it’s not the norm in her county.

However, based on other topics she addressed in her presentation, Valleja made it clear that she isn’t afraid to go against societal norms.

Valleja said that although many more Pakistani girls have gained access to higher education, some people in more rural areas are against supporting females in pursuing academics.

Valleja, who wants to become a doctor, has set high academic goals for herself and hopes to promote higher education for girls upon her return to Pakistan.

Valleja also said she has enjoyed the hands-on aspect of the education system at Linfield and will give suggestions to her professors back home. “There’s more work experience involved with the classes here. At my school in Pakistan, the professor will just tell us to read a book and we’ll have a test on it in a few days,” Valleja gave as an example.

There were other differences Valleja noticed when arriving in America. She said she didn’t expect everyone to be so friendly and just start talking to her, since in Pakistan, people tend to converse with those they already know.

Despite being able to make friends easily, Valleja said it was difficult to adjust at first. “There was definitely culture shock. I was depressed at first being in an unfamiliar place, but I adjusted and pretty soon I was just fine. I still miss the food from Pakistan though,” she finished with a laugh.

In addition to food, Valleja said she’s missed her family. During her presentation, she talked about how family is a highly important aspect of Pakistani culture.

“The whole family lives together—parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins,” Valleja said.

She also mentioned that parents are integral in making any kind of important life decision. Whether it’s dating, choosing a marriage partner, or choosing a university, parents always give their input.

“To come to America I had to talk to my parents first to be sure they would support me,” Valleja said.

Her father, who she said has always supported her in her education, was excited for her opportunity. Saying goodbye was difficult for her mother, who had never been apart from her for long. “She was crying when we said goodbye at the airport,” Valleja said.

Valleja said she looks forward to seeing her family after being apart for so long. Nonetheless she said she plans to return to the U.S. for her residency after finishing medical school.

Valleja’s audience was extremely attentive and full of questions. Some audience members were so full of curiosity that they couldn’t seem to wait and asked theirs in the middle of Valleja’s presentation.

After her speech, Valleja requested that the audience take a group photo with her to end the event.