Journey of an International Student (Series Finale): “If you cry because the sun has gone out of your life, your tears will prevent you from seeing the stars.”

by Shamim Ahmed 

In our ‘Journey of an International Student’ series, Shamim shares his experiences and journey as an international student parent at the University of Toronto. This thoughtful monthly series aims to highlight experiences of international student parents, find connections in our community, and uplift voices of others. If you have story or idea for our Redefining Traditional community, you can submit it here! 

This is sort of emotional for me to write this piece today. This is the last blog of my regular series ‘Journey of an International Student’. I enjoyed writing this so much. There were many events of my life as an international student that I did not want to share with others. This blog gave me the opportunity to write about the moments of truth, some filled with happiness, some others not so fond! But I wrote about them, it felt good to share with others, and also to know that some of that information probably helped other international students who just started their journey.  

In my blogs I often use titles borrowed from famous authors. I love to read, and I feel there are some feelings which have already been expressed beautifully by my favorite authors. Today, I am going to use some lines from my favorite Bengali poet – Rabindranath Thakur, well known as Tagore in the western world. Tagore wrote,  

“Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, 
but to be fearless in facing them. 
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but 
for the heart to conquer it.” 

Rabindranath Thakur

When I look back and think about the last one year, a year so strange, driven by an unprecedented pandemic, I often feel demotivated and sad. But then again, I try to get motivation from my favourite books, poems or movies, and the lines written by Tagore always motivates me to push myself further and do what I need to do to be on track as an international student.  

Photos of some of Shamim's favourite Bengali meals.
Cooking traditional Bangladeshi cuisine for my daughter was my favourite hobby during this pandemic! In the picture spicy shrimp curry and spinach  

This pandemic affected me badly. Data collection for my doctoral research was postponed, and I had to struggle with my funding. My family got invitation to apply for Permanent Residency in Canada and we applied accordingly almost 8 months ago, but due to several restrictions, processing time has become lengthy and there is no good new yet. The future seems pretty uncertain at this moment, but there is some good news too. My parents got vaccinated for COVID-19 yesterday in Bangladesh. Bangladesh already received 7 million vaccine from Oxford-AstraZeneca and is one of the leading countries in vaccinating its citizen. Tagore wrote: 

“If you cry because the sun has gone out of your life,  
your tears will prevent you from seeing the stars.” 

Such a wonderful verse! We need to think about the positive sides in our lives. There will be challenges, difficulties, but there will be hope and solutions too. If we don’t prepare ourselves to see the stars, we will only be seeing that the sun has gone! Therefore, my friends, I want all of you to hang in there, be with your family and friends and face any adverse situation in your life. Face it with a smiling face and do not worry about the outcome. In the end of the day, how we fought is what matters the most, not the outcome of it.  

Shamim and his family in a snowy park, with masks on but it looks like they're smiling!
Queens Park is 10-minute walk from our place. During our afternoon walk, me and my daughter!  

One day the memories of this pandemic will face away, but we will remember the way we faced it, managed to move ahead in life. This might be my last blog of this series, but I hope to come back again with a new series, may be as a happy Bangladeshi-Canadian student, someday soon. Till then, adios!  

“Unending Love 
I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times… 
In life after life, in age after age, forever. 
My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs, 
That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms, 
In life after life, in age after age, forever. 
Whenever I hear old chronicles of love, it’s age old pain, 
It’s ancient tale of being apart or together. 
As I stare on and on into the past, in the end you emerge, 
Clad in the light of a pole-star, piercing the darkness of time. 
You become an image of what is remembered forever. 
You and I have floated here on the stream that brings from the fount. 
At the heart of time, love of one for another. 
We have played along side millions of lovers, 
Shared in the same shy sweetness of meeting, 
the distressful tears of farewell, 
Old love but in shapes that renew and renew forever. 
Today it is heaped at your feet, it has found its end in you 
The love of all man’s days both past and forever: 
Universal joy, universal sorrow, universal life. 
The memories of all loves merging with this one love of ours – 
And the songs of every poet past and forever.” 

Rabindranath Tagore, Selected Poems 
Shamim and his family, looking over a beautiful snowy sunset.
Good days will come and we will thrive together 😊 

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