As the holidays approach and the fall semester comes to a close at universities around the world, we’d like to feature a post from a young student at the University of Central Asia (UCA) in Naryn, Kyrgyz Republic. Last year, Sehar Naz Janani wrote a short reflection piece on her first semester at UCA, which was prominently featured in the school’s newspaper. 

Reflecting back on the last four months of late-night studies, long response papers, back-to-back classes, and many cups of coffee before math exams, I have begun to realize: I am finally finished with my first semester at the University of Central Asia. And believe me, it was not a piece of cake.

I still remember the day I received my acceptance letter from UCA. That letter gave birth to tons of expectations, after an application process that filled me with excitement for the future.

While applying to the University of Central Asia, I found myself imagining how beautiful the mountains of Kyrgyzstan might be. I kept thinking, ‘If I’m accepted as a student, how will my life change? Who will I become?’ Believe me, an instant shift from Karachi, Pakistan to Naryn, Kyrgyzstan is a bit of a shock to the system. When I first experienced the freezing weather of Bishkek, while stepping out of Manas International Airport, not only did my body freeze but my soul felt frozen in time, too. I’ll never forget that feeling of being a foreigner in a country for the first time.

Classes were officially inaugurated on September 4 by Shamsh Kassam Lakha, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and Diana Pauna, the Dean of UCA. When the bell rang in the ceremony, I realized that my dream had finally come true. I was finally in my new home. Since then, it has been an honor to become a part of the UCA community.

In my first semester, I have made some very good friends here and gathered many new memories. UCA is a place of smiles, love, peace, and of course, assignments!

However, the most wonderful thing about life at UCA is the balance between academic and social life. My many assignments are always balanced with fun activities taking place across campus—from trivia nights and Halloween festivities, to “Breakfasts for Dinner” and Diversity Day, to the regular talent shows. These events keep us active and engaged. Best of all, it helps us avoid homesickness.

What I really love about UCA is the faculty support. The way professors promote understanding and deeper insight into their subject area of expertise is so inspiring. Their teaching strategies—rooted in activity-based learning—help broaden our understanding on the core of a subject. Here at UCA, I’ve learned not just how to pass a course, but how to fall in love with learning as well. During my first semester, I never once felt my assignments were a burden. And I found that I really do love to research and write articles on topics that interest me.

In short, life at UCA is a blend of learning and fun. I believe my decision to attend UCA has been worth it. Here, I can visualize my dreams for the future clearly, and every person at UCA is playing a key role to help me achieve them.

Sehar Naz Janani is now a second-year student at UCA.