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Not a medical student and proud of it

Karachi, Aug 8: There just aren't enough Liberal Arts colleges in this city. The Institute of Business Administration (IBA) is great and the College of Business Management (CBM) is quite decent too, but both focus on business studies. Similarly, the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture is superb but it doesn't pay enough attention to humanities and the social sciences. The University of Karachi (KU) is one of the few, or perhaps even the only university that offers a wide array of Liberal Arts courses in the city. However, when you do opt for KU, people don't react like they would to an IBA or an Aga Khan University student.

So what do you do in such a situation? If you can afford it, you tend to go abroad, but when you return you get the raised eyebrow, especially once they discover you traveled across the world just for a Liberal Arts degree.

If you can't afford to go abroad, you settle for KU. And after you've graduated and become part of the real world, you find your boss favouring graduates from foreign universities. The solution? Karachiites need to be more accepting of students in fields other than medicine, engineering and business, even if they are local graduates. They have to realise that it's okay for students to study something they are passionate about, rather than having something forced upon them. Once Karachiites become more open-minded about other fields, only then can there be quality universities with focus on the Liberal Arts. After all, if Lahore can have its 'world-class private university'(as mentioned on the website) - the Beaconhouse National University (BNU) - with its School of Liberal Arts, in addition to its School of Media and Mass Communication and School of Social Sciences among many others, why should Karachiites be deprived?

As for me, each time I get the "Congratulations, you're done with university. What did you study?" I tell the eager beavers what it was that I did, they respond with a raised eyebrow. Of course, the raised eyebrow is their way of being discreet. Often, I've had to witness more blatant remarks such as "why that?" or "beta, you're much too talented for such a thing". Obviously, it wasn't medicine that I had studied, or engineering, or law or business studies for that matter. It wasn't even fine arts, or architecture, or fashion design. No, these things, they would be far more accepting of. I had gone abroad for university and committed the sin of studying Political Science, and friends and family members are having an incredibly hard time getting this down their throats. Unfortunately, my second major doesn't help much either. "International development studies," I tell them, and now they look more confused than disappointed. I don't know which is better. This time they respond with a "What is that exactly?" followed by a "Do you think development for a country like ours is even possible?" or "Oh, so you're one of those wishful thinkers set out to change the world?" At this moment, I decide the disappointment was definitely better. Their sarcasm makes me want to bite their heads off. I don't, because my mother tends to grab me by the arm and pull me away in the nick of time.

Fortunately for them, I don't intend on joining the notorious political scene. I don't plan on settling down with an NGO either. Joining Pakistani NGO's is 'the' thing to do these days. Haven't you heard? It's the latest hobby among middle-aged housewives, or home-makers as they prefer to be called these days and a hobby it will remain (note: not job). Sure, they have their balls and fashion shows from time to time, as well as a few photographs with the children and women that their NGO is supposed to support, published in a few magazines. Other than that, however, I don't have the slightest idea as to what they do.

As for my future, I don't know what I'll be doing next. Maybe journalism, maybe not, but that's not the point. The point is that I have absolutely no regrets. I studied what I was most interested in and I loved every minute of it. It's not just me going through this. Numerous others face the same or at least a similar situation. The news
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