International Student Spotlight: Mishal Kazmi ’21

The Class of 2021 comprises students from twenty-seven countries. During the spring semester, the photography exhibition Home Away from Home? in David Saul Smith Union featured portraits of a number of these students. The pictures were accompanied by essays about what it’s like to study at Bowdoin when you’re often thousands of miles from home and family.

Over the summer, we’ll be publishing a selection of those photographs with the accompanying essays, and today the spotlight is on Mishal Kazmi ’21, from Pakistan.

Mishal Kazmi ’21 in front of a picture of Bashahi Mosque in Lahore. Photo: Shinhee Kang ’18

I’m from Islamabad, but when I think of home, I think of the beauty of the mountainous north of Pakistan. Even though I’m not from that specific area, my family and I go there for the summer and that’s someplace I feel really emotionally connected to my country.

My transition to Bowdoin has been one of ease–mainly because of the solid group of friends I found within the first few days. Because of that, my identity as an international student is not something I’m actively conscious about, and I suppose that’s a good thing. But it definitely becomes very different when everyone is applying to summer internships here in the US and I can’t avail myself of opportunities like that.

I think there are some things everyone takes for granted about the place they grew up in until they’re far away from it. For me, I miss my friends and family back home, and even though I talk to them regularly, I can’t ever fully share my experience of being at Bowdoin because they’d have to be present here for that. So, it feels like I’m a part of two very different worlds, and there’s little chance they’ll ever completely meet.

There’s no question about what I miss most about home: it’s a nice, large cup of chai

The exhibition Home Away from Home? was initiated, cocurated, and organized by Shinhee Kang’ 18 and Cheng-Chun (Kevin) Yu’ 19.

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