Moving abroad for higher education and greater opportunities

Episode Description

Arif Rahman is a research scientist from Bangladesh. His immigration journey began when he made a plan to study for his Ph.D. outside of his country.

Arif believed that there are larger opportunities abroad, so he persevered to apply to numerous schools outside Bangladesh.

After writing hundreds of emails, Arif was finally recognized by an Italian professor willing to sponsor him to study abroad.

With his intelligence as a scientist, Arif was able to win the Best Young Scientist award, which opened an opportunity for him to move to the US. Arif recognizes himself as lucky because of how easy his immigration journey was compared with the fellow immigrants he met while he was in Italy.

It was this humbling experience that fostered Arif’s compassion for people and his dream to give back to his home country, Bangladesh, in the future.

Arif’s story is a great way to remind us that life is a series of unstoppable challenges. Evading it would only make it worse.

Learn to embrace the difficulties of your path, get up, and show that you’re far stronger than whatever life throws at you.

Get in touch with Arif

Twitter - LinkedIn - Email

Tips and key takeaways


Episode Transcript

Arif 0:01

You have the control of your own life what you want to do. Whatever the success or failure in the course of this learning, it's the there is a satisfaction in it that whatever I'm doing, either I'm failing or I'm getting success. It's it's all my decision, that freedom.

Daniel 0:23

Hi, everyone, and welcome to episode number 28 of the Emigrant's Life Podcast, where we share stories of people who left their country to chase a better life. I'm Daniel De Biasi. And in this episode, I had the pleasure of chatting with Arif. Arif is a scientist from Bangladesh, he left his country to have a better education. After sending thousands of emails to many professors in Europe. They offered him the opportunity to do this PhD in Pisa, Italy. While in Italy, he won the Best Young Scientist Award, which opened the door to a new university in the US. He's been living in the US for the last seven years and managed to receive his green card fairly easily because it's from Bangladesh. In this episode, we will discuss the immigration path for students who wants to become scientists, or continue their studies abroad for better opportunities. Before moving to my conversation with Arif, make sure to subscribe wherever you listen to your podcast. And it would be great if you leave us a review on Apple podcasts or pod chaser. And now please enjoy my conversation with Arif.

Hi Arif, thanks for being on the show. Yeah,

Arif 1:25

thanks for giving me this opportunity. Daniel, how are you?

Daniel 1:28

Pretty good. Thanks. Pretty good. Are you originally from Bangladesh, and you lived in Italy and the US? But let's start from the beginning. Like, why did you leave Bangladesh?

Arif 1:38

So it's basically for higher education. So after I finished my master's degree, I had an aptitude for the research career. So I wanted to go for higher education. And also the field where I was working, it was polymer science field. And especially in our country, we don't have many industries, or many research institute where we focus on polymer science. Yeah, it's, it's because also, in Bangladesh, the main research domain is actually the agricultural field, and the medical science. So for the molecular science, we don't have many research institutes. So I was working in a research Institute. And while I was working at Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission, after finishing my master's degree, I was working on several different research projects, and I was applying outside and then got an opportunity to work at Pisa, University of the PISA. And that's how I moved out of my country, basically, for education and for research career.

Daniel 2:47

So your scientists, right?

Arif 2:49


Daniel 2:49


Arif 2:50

Right now, my affiliation is with BASF Chemical Company, I'm working as a polymer scientist.

Daniel 2:57

Okay. So, it was easy for you to leave the country, because you were a scientist, or was actually what was easier for you, because you were a scientist to leave your country?

Arif 3:06

So, I mean, for higher education, there is process, especially if you want to pursue like PhD, then there is a process and these processes are different for different countries. And you just have to be familiar with those process. For example, if you want to go for a PhD in Europe, you basically have to discuss with different professors, about you research interest, and their research field. If there is a good match, if there is a professor who wants to take you, because you have the right background for the research, then he will support you in the admission and also the funding. And in the US, it is different in Britain, it is different. So I chose to go to Europe, because also my siblings, my brothers and sisters, they also live in Europe, so.

Daniel 4:01


Arif 4:02

yeah, so the process I was saying that the process was, I mean, it's a very difficult process, in the sense that you have to write a lot. You have to know the research fields of those professors and university, and then apply for different scholarship opportunities. And write many mails, I remember that I wrote like, more than thousand emails to different professors. It was fun. I don't feel that I work really hard. I actually work hard, but I really enjoyed the whole time. That's why I have all the good memories, no frustrations anymore. Of course, there was frustration at that time, but I only see that it actually gave me a lot of learning. It was a very learning experience, very good learning experience.

Daniel 4:52

Okay, so the hard part was to find the support and find that the professor will take you into their country. Was the immigration process easier because you are the support from people from another country?

Arif 5:04

Yeah, I mean, especially like, if you go to European universities, if the professor's support you, embassy treat those visa applications very differently. I did not have any trouble. So the university provided me all the necessary documents, the supporting documents, I had to submit those while I was applying for visa. And it was quite easy. No hurdles, no no roadblocks. I basically had to prove my education background and all the supporting documents for me versus the visa. Yeah. And that's how I moved out. That's how.

Daniel 5:40

Which makes sense. I mean, if it's immigration makes it hard for people like you, like a scientist to move to another country, we are all pretty much will screwed. Country needs people like you like eye trained professional.

Arif 5:54

Yeah, and then after we got that opportunity, you know, I mean, like I moved out and then learned a lot. It's a different education system, different environment, different way of teaching. They also trained me right? So I'm also grateful for their training too.

Daniel 6:10

No, absolutely. I mean, even the culture difference between Bangladesh and Italy might be pretty difficult, very different. Even like learning the language. Do you speak Italian now?

Arif 6:19

Ah, paka paka

Daniel 6:22

Paka paka? How long did you stay in Italy for?

Arif 6:26

I lived in Italy for almost four years.

Daniel 6:30

Okay, so it's enough to learn the basic language but not, probably not be fluent, especially in the language like.

Arif 6:36

Yeah, no, the funny thing was like, I had friends and, and I had two technicians in the lab. And those technicians were always helping me, but they could not speak in English. So they were speaking in Italian and I was in speaking in English, and we had very good understanding. And we are still very good friends. So yeah, he's a Isabella and Gloria.

Daniel 7:04

Okay. They were using a lot of gestures to communicate.

Arif 7:08

A lot of gestures right. I understood like very little Italian. And they were trying to make it as simple as possible. And I was trying to make English as simple as possible. So it was fun. You know.

Daniel 7:23

You guys both learning another language, I guess.

Arif 7:27

Right, right. But especially in the university, almost every students all faculties, they speak in English. The problem is outside of the university. Right? When you go to a grocery shop, or you go to a restaurant, how do you order food, you know, but I learned all those things. You know, I can I can order foods. I understand the words now. I feel that after, after I leave Italy, I think I understand Italian language better than before. I don't know why. It's probably because I learned the language so many times. You know, it's in my brain. I don't know. It's It's funny, because I went back to Italy in 2018 with my wife and I met many of my friends. I was speaking speaking in Italian with them, especially with Isabella and Gloria and they say, so you speak Italian even better than before. What's happening? Are you learning Italian in the US?

Daniel 8:27

That's funny. And did you feel like you you brought something on the culture of the Italian culture back to US?

Arif 8:34

Definitely. Coffee, drinking coffee five times a day. You know, so I was so used to it. And I loved coffee in Italy. Right? But the thing is when I moved out of Italy, the coffee is very different in the US. Yeah. Oh, yeah. It's difficult to drink coffee five times a day now.

Daniel 8:53

Yes. But if you drink like a cup of coffee, which is the normal like standard.

Arif 8:59

A cup of coffee, everything is so large here. Yeah, I remember that. The first time I went to a McDonald's, they were asking me, Do you want it? The cold? Do you want medium, small or large? I said large and large mean it's like a big jug. Like I said it's probably for the whole family. It's not for one person.

Daniel 9:23

Yeah. Even like I remember when people in New Zealand and even in America this see me, like drink an espresso. They call it shot, a shot of coffee.

Arif 9:31

Yeah, yeah.

Daniel 9:33

Yeah, that's a coffee.

Arif 9:35

Yeah. You know, my English was also kind of Italian English at the beginning. And after, after almost three years, I was speaking almost like my technician friends, Isabella and Gloria, you know, and at the beginning when I moved out of Italy, and I was feeling like hey, I'm talking like my Italian friends now. I had some Italian dialects in my in my English. But then also, like, I have seen my Italian friends, like they're very organized in most of the things, you know. And I was also working out when I was in Italy, most of them actually worked out pretty well. I think probably more than 90% of Italian people they work out.

Daniel 10:18

It's I think that's like the culture about how you present yourself. There's a lot of like the culture is about like, how you well, you dress yourself to present yourself.

Arif 10:27

And another thing how you present yourself, right? Everyone, I have seen that people take care of their, the way they look, the way they dress up. It's a very important part of the culture. Like, if you're going out socially with people, people try to dress up pretty well. You know, it's like in in the US, it's pretty casual. It's always pretty casual. It's like in the minimum level of casualty you know, but yeah, I have seen that. And also, my, my professor used to take me for lunch, like every month, then we used to talk about culture. And that's one thing he brought to my attention that you will see everyone is dressed up pretty well, here in Italy. Doesn't matter what's the job. Like everyone will dress up pretty.

Daniel 11:15

Yeah, totally. I know since I moved out of Italy, I save a lot of money on clothes, because I don't need it. But the part of how you present yourself, do you think like is similar to your culture in Bangladesh? Because you guys have like this nice colorful, like a dress?

Arif 11:30

Yeah. Yeah, you know it for every occasion. We would dress up differently. You know, like, we have our religious festival, then we have our own cultural festival. You may not know this. In Bangladesh, we have a holidays for all religious festival. So doesn't matter if it's a like we are a Muslim populated country, right? It's like more than 90% people are Muslim in Bangladesh, but you get holiday also for Christian Christmas, you get holiday for Hindu festivals. So we we celebrate the all different types of religious festivals in our country. And we dress up differently for them too.

Daniel 12:16

So you mean like a public holiday?

Arif 12:18

Public holiday, right. Yeah. As it's like both public holiday given by the government, right? So that people can celebrate together.

Daniel 12:26

Oh, that's good. I mean,

Arif 12:27

Which I don't see here.

Daniel 12:29

No, I wish we had more of that. So we have like more time off from work.

Arif 12:33


Daniel 12:34

And so from, then you will decide to move to the US and was because of the job opportunity because you wanted to move to America?

Arif 12:42

I mean, I didn't actually have a plan to move to the US. I mean, like, I remember that I went to a conference. And during that conference, there was a plenary lecture on multi layer polymeric systems. And on a biomimetic concept, and I liked it so much. And this was given by Professor Eric Bear. And at the time, I was at the beginning of my third year of my PhD. And I actually talked to him and I introduced myself. And I showed him my interest to join his group, although he was not interested at the beginning. But then there was this competition in that conference for best young scientist award. And I did not put my name. It was my friend who actually put my name, Silvia & Natalie, she's a professor now at the University of the Brescia. And she put my name and on the fifth day, we had a gala dinner. So during the dinner session, they were announcing the winner. And I was so surprised. They were announcing my name, and I was thinking why they're calling my name. Okay.

And yeah, he was a professor from University of Texas at Austin. And he was calling my name and yeah, and I realized that okay, I wonder world and I went there. Yeah. And then Professor Eric Bair actually told me that if you can now join my group, if you if you really like to join my group, so and then I was in touch with him, and right after finishing my PhD, I actually moved to the US. That was March 30th 2013.

Daniel 14:17

So you decided to move to the US. But you were a little bit further away from your family, because you were further away from Bangladesh. You were further away from your siblings in Europe. Right?

Arif 14:26

Right. Right. And then I actually didn't have any plan to stay in the US for a long time. But whatever life changes, right, I got married. I got married in 2013, December 2013. And then after getting married, I started thinking, Okay, I think I need to settle down somewhere. And things are going pretty well in the US. I was doing a postdoc at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. And then I started thinking about settling down here in the US. So I then I started the immigration process, like applying for a green card here.

Daniel 15:00

Speaking of the green card, because it didn't take too long for you to get a green card compared to other county where takes can be taken like 10 years to get a green card. For you, it's is much shorter.

Arif 15:10

Yeah, what I heard like from my friends that usually people from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the application process can be long depending on like who is applying. So people from Bangladesh, usually it takes nine to 12 months to know the results of their application of their petition. But for other countries like India, China, it can take a lot longer time because there are more applications. For my application, it took almost two years. It's also because the application got backlogged. And then the application was sent from one center to another center. So there was some problems in the processing of the applications. But then I was also interviewed. And it was a very interesting interview, interesting experience and during the interview, but

Daniel 16:05

Sorry, why was interesting?

Arif 16:07

It's because it was a self petition. So there are many different categories, when you apply for a green card. So I was applying as a research scientist. That application category was national interest waiver. So it's basically showing that my research profile, my research background, can help this country. If I stay in country for a long time in this profession, the country will get benefited. And so you submit the petition by yourself. So in my case, there was no institution or organization who will file the application. For me, it was it was a self petition. But it seems the counselor, he actually did not understand my position very well. You know, during the interview, after the first two minutes of introduction, the second thing he told me was that you have to withdraw your application. You know, it was quite frustrating that almost two years, I had to wait for the call. And then during the interview, right, after two minutes, they say that you have to withdraw your application, it was kind of a blow to me. And so I immediately got kind of, I reacted pretty strongly. And I say that I was asking why you are saying this, and all the reason that he was providing it was actually not correct. And I say that I'm pretty well educated on my application, you were saying that my application was filed by an institute, which is not correct. It's a self petition. And then there was a question between the definition of a research scientist and scientist. So I had a job when I was being interviewed, I also informed them that I'm moving from one state to another state and from one job to another job. But I'm not changing my role. My role in the company is a scientist role. And my position was a research scientist. But they're the same thing.

Daniel 18:07

Just a different job title?

Arif 18:08

very slightly different job title, but it's the same thing. But so I had to define that for them. But they were not very convinced. So what I had to do, I, after 30 minutes of frustrating discussion, they gave me a RFP, they call it RFP is like request for evidence. Okay, the research scientist and the scientist at the same thing, then I actually got support from my company, they could be intouch with the lawyer, who actually just had to write an email. And the lawyer also told me, this is unfortunate that this has happened to you because it was not supposed to happen to you, because your application, your petition was quite different. And you should have got your green card by this time now. But anyway, but right after that, later on, we actually got the green card within two weeks.

Daniel 19:00

Awesome. I actually had a similar event with my application here in Canada, because I was providing points because in Canada how you, you get a PR is through, I don't remember it was like a PR was the work permit anyway, the process was you have to have a certain number of points. And they didn't take in consideration my points or didn't want to take in consideration the points from my education. Because I was telling that I am electrician by trade in Italy and I got the diploma qualification at high school. But in Canada, I already know in America, you don't learn in high school, you have to go to college, you have to go specific to a school to learn to become an electrician. So they didn't want to recognize that. So I had to prove with a lawyer and send that letter as to why they should recognize that because in Italy, the system is different. So I had the similar similar situation in my case.

Arif 19:50

Yeah, it's just different country, different laws, different way of thinking, right?

Daniel 19:56

So now you decided to stay in the US, why? Is there any reason why you prefer the US and not experimenting and try the countries?

Arif 20:04

You know, now I have a job. So postdoctoral job is, it's not like a permanent job or you don't want it's a transition point for the researchers. Either you stay in the academia as a faculty, or you can go to a Research Institute, or you can join a company as a scientist. So it's a pretty common trend among different researchers, that right after the PhD, either you join the academia or you build an industry. So I stayed in academia for 5, 6 years, and then now in the company, since you can say that I have like, settled job. So I still didn't give a second thought of moving out of the country. Right now, it may happen, or it may not happen, I'm still not decided.

Daniel 20:57

What if the good opportunity comes up in another county where they offer a position or you find that the study that they're doing is really interesting, would you do that in decades?

Arif 21:06

Yeah. I mean, I always had that interest to actually learn and stay in different countries, learn different cultures and get more experiences. I was really enjoying that. Now, at this point, I feel that I want to actually settle down somewhere where I can also grow in my career, you know, and also bring some breakthroughs or or do something interesting in the job, you know. So I'm giving myself some time to understand this industrial job, how the carrier can move. And then also, I'm also open for opportunities. And if I see there is a better opportunity, and then as a family, we can make a decision to move then. Yeah, we can, then I will. Yeah, as I say, I'm not decided yet. Yeah, I will live the rest of my life in the US. I don't know.

Daniel 21:58

Not fair enough. But what do you have the support of your family of your wife, she she okay with moving?

Arif 22:05

Yeah, I mean, she had some challenges, you know, we got married in 2013. And then she moved to the US permanently with me in 2015. She had to finish her undergrad. So she finished her undergrad and then moved here and had to wait three years. This is a reality for a postdoctoral researcher, as a postdoc, you don't earn a lot of money. So it was difficult for me to support my wife's education here. Here, the education is quite expensive, if you want to go for a master's degree, it's actually very expensive. It requires, it depends on the university depends on the program, it may take 30,000 to $60,000. So for three years, I could not support her, she was like extremely helpful to me. She was very compromising. So, but right now she's actually finishing her master's degree. So she's getting her master's degree next year in summer.

Daniel 23:04

Okay, so it's just not just your career, it's it will be even her career, that the things kind of like a join and find a good spot in the middle.

Arif 23:11

Right. And then, like, she also has some career goals. Right? But it's it's not that like a weird to very strict. We have to decide like what we want to do, but we decided to get it so

Daniel 23:24

That's a good way to approach these changes, because it affect both of you.

Arif 23:27

Right, right. Yeah.

Daniel 23:29

And I don't want to put you on the spot. But because now you're a scientist, and with your knowledge, do you think you will, at some point, have the feeling of the call to go back to your country and try to provide that help that whatever you learned this year into another country, would you go back and help your country in somehow?

Arif 23:47

It's a very good question. I mean, this is a feeling I think, every immigrants have back of their mind, either it is subconscious or in the conscious level, I always feel that I have responsibility toward my country, I still feel that I will help my country with my knowledge at one point. So I actually have a few plans. And I'm going to try that. I also feel that whenever you have a plan, you should try it and you should not wait for like, okay, after five years, I will do it or after 10 years, not like that. I actually have some immediate plan that I want to do like I at least want to get involved in a university and provide my learning in the field. Then create a research field and this way I can probably educate some students are in the field, you know, in the research field. I feel that at one point, probably I will go back Bangladesh, you know, but I don't know when I don't have a very clear plan for this. But I feel I always feel that I should give back my country.

Daniel 24:59

And Italy is things from the past or you think you will go back?

Arif 25:02

Italy is my second home, I always call Italy as my second home. So its the first country I move right? Outside my home country so I have a lot of emotional attachment to the country too.

Daniel 25:14

It's like your first girlfriend.

Arif 25:19

Right. Its like your first girlfriend. Yeah, you can lose her. But you can still have the emotion and everything right? Yeah, exactly.

Daniel 25:27

Do you have any regrets about leaving Bangladesh or leaving your country?

Arif 25:31

Regrets? It's a very complicated feeling. I can tell you, like, I I left the country when I was a student. So I did not have any professional challenge or any challenge with my livelihood in the country. I had pretty good life, right? But a few things for example, I miss my parents. I miss my friends. I miss my city where I grew up. Right. But regrets I don't know, probably it's not regret. Because I still feel that I'm still part of that, that country. I don't feel like that I'm mentally away from the country. I always feel that I am in the country. That's my feeling. I don't know. I don't feel that I'm too. I'm like, I'm maybe I'm physically away. But I, I never felt that I'm mentally away from my country. And I also have a lot of connections in my country. And probably that's one reason. But also one thing, it's very interesting. After leaving my home country, I feel that now I'm a citizen of this planet, you know? Yeah. And the whole planet is my country.

So we became a citizen of the planet. So yeah, it's not a regret, it's a, it's a very, it's a very complex feeling. Sometimes I miss my country a lot. And I also feel that I'm living a good life here. The career that I am pursuing here, probably, I would not be able to have the same career in my country, I would have to find a different profession, you know. So at this point, I can say, I'm quite happy wherever I am now. I don't have any regret. I feel my destiny took me here. And maybe it can change over time. Who knows?

Daniel 27:31

Yeah, true. You never know. And what age did you leave your country?

Arif 27:34

I was 25 years old.

Daniel 27:36

Okay, so you lived a good portion of your life in the country. So you leave your country not too young.

Arif 27:41

Yeah, that's another point. Right? Like, when you leave 25 years, in a country, you grew up in that country, essentially very difficult to, to forget everything. And also, I was very well educated on my culture, my religion and everything. So yeah, then that's why I feel that it's, it would be very difficult to become a citizen of another country. You know, it's now it's about learning and accepting.

Daniel 28:10

At the same time, I don't know, it's, yes, you lived 25 years in your country. But at the same time, I like the word "the best year of your life," because when you're young, or don't have responsibility, you just having fun, and that's the good thing. And now, I think even myself, and I even left Italy, pretty much at the same time, it was like a 27, when I left, but going back now, live will be completely different. Your friends are not always there to hang out with you and fun and go drinking, it's family nowadays, the lifestyle will be completely different.

Arif 28:43

It's, it's quite different. Like when I went back home two years ago, I remember that, like the generation is quite different. It's like a decade of difference in the in the mindset. In fact, if you look at the demographic of the South Asian countries, they change quite significantly. You do not see the changes, I think like infrastructure, infrastructure, and in the society, in the Western countries, it's quite a steady. But if you look at the Asian part, it's actually quite changing. It changes rapidly. In a short time. You look at the infrastructure, you look at the society, it quite, it changes quite rapidly. So like, I see that, like, when I went back home, like I'm, it's been almost 11 years that I'm living abroad. So when I talk to like younger people who are like 12 years or 15 years younger than me, their mindset and my mindset, I see some gaps, you know, and, and I feel pretty bad. That why I'm not thinking the same way that they're thinking, you know, like they're quite young, they're more energetic and I feel that there is even smarter than us, you know in our generation. So yeah, there's a lot of change back home, a lot of change. But I see that there is a lot of good progress in the education, in the society, I see that the country is doing very good, much better than before.

Daniel 30:18

And what's the biggest upside about immigrating?

Arif 30:22

The biggest upside, I'd say, I mean, like, when I look at the education system, especially, like, I moved out to build my career, right? So I can only give you from that perspective, the upside, the advantage of being an immigrant, you know, so I feel that it's all advantageous actually, for me, I'm not stuck at home, I moved out of my comfort zone, I moved out of my own home, and started facing all the challenges, the real world challenges outside home, you know, in in a different culture, in a different mindset. And then continuously changing professions, you know, and I see the biggest upside is that my carrier, my research career, I feel that in country like Bangladesh, we do not invest a lot of money. in research and development, we don't have that luxury, you know, but but here in the, in the US, especially in the Western countries, there is a lot of r&d investment that goes to the university, that goes to the industry. And there is a lot of focus in science and technology. And I think that is one advantage that I can build my own research carrier here. And another advantage is also a larger look at the life. It's not only about myself, it's also about other people, like who are living around me, different color, different religion, different character. I think, you know, if I take aside my research profession, that's the best learning I got from my life moving out of the country, learning different cultures and learning different people.

Daniel 32:00

Yeah, that's a great point. And did you have any challenges in your journey?

Arif 32:05

There was always challenges. There was a lot of challenges, language, food, mindset, many different challenges. And then I actually love the frustration, the agony to cope up with your surroundings, you know, all the time, but at the same time, you are also learning, it's a very good experience. And I feel that when you move out of the country, if you think that I am, hey, I'm already outside of my comfort zone, I'm here to learn. And that aptitude for learning actually move you ahead, you just move on, you learn something, you make a mistake, or you get some success. That's the whole thing actually, doesn't matter success or failure, it just keeps moving. It keeps you moving on is the aptitude for learning, I would say. I think everyone should move out of home after one third of their life, just to learn, right? Like there is a saying that if you want to get educated go to China. It's just saying that move out, go to a longer distance meet different people meet new people write new culture learn. Yeah.

Daniel 33:13

Yeah, I think, I don't know if you have the same kind of experience. But when I decided to leave Italy, and left Italy, moved to another country, I had the feeling that I could do anything with my life, I had the freedom to choose whatever I want to do, and what whatever I want to be in my life because I, for some reason, I connected with people that were taking a different career, I saw like people achieving their goals, I saw that. And in my head was like, I can do anything. I can be whatever I want.

Arif 33:56

Exactly. Another thing is this is this is I think, very, very important part that you take control of your own life. You have the control of your own life, what you want to do, and and I don't know, what kind of feeling is this? It's a whatever the success or failure in the course of this learning, it's the there is a satisfaction in it. That whatever I'm doing, either I'm failing, or I'm getting success, it's it's all my decision, that's freedom. And I actually had a friend who told me that you became a free spirit. And I said, it's probably because of my reality.

Daniel 34:23

Yeah, no, totally. I think moving to another account. She started it with a new culture. It's kind of put you I'll make you more humble and more rounded.

Arif 34:33

Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. Another thing is when you see that people have different mindset, different thinking pattern, different lifestyle, different culture, you no longer can actually live in yourself. You will feel humble that there is a lot of knowledge everywhere and there is a lot of people, actually, every single individual is an institute. You can, if you take it that way, there is a lot to learn from every individual. There is no way to build the ego, that what I know is right. You know, it's because you have seen a constantly changing world, you are aware of the diversity around you. It's a very interesting thing of moving, moving to different countries, meeting different people making friendship, the agony of success and failure in your professional life. Everything is a yeah, it's quite enjoyable to say. A lot.

Daniel 35:48

Did you enjoy it like at the beginning, when you were struggling?

Arif 35:50

Daniel, when you move out of the country, what are the What do you basic need a good place? A few people who show you in empathy or sympathy, whatever it is, and then probably some financial support, right? moving out of my country, I was quite lucky. My my airfare was paid, I had a place to leave for free. It was paid by the university, I had monthly salary. But I made a lot of people from my country, who moved out of the country just for the sake of a better life for a better job. They did not move for education or anything. There were some street hawkers who were from Bangladesh, they were selling toys in front of the leading towers in Pisa. And I looked at them. And when I looked at them, the struggle that they had, when they moved out of the, I didn't have the same struggle. So I was thinking that I actually had a pretty good start. And I'm still living a good life. But I also have the opportunity to, to feel the struggle of those people. I talked to them, I actually spent quite a lot of time to talk to those people. I had very good friends who moved out of the country only for better life in the West. They left like 20, 30 years ago. And some of them still did not have a good financial condition. But they did not want to go back home. You know, but so sorry, I'm digressing a little bit. It was a pretty good start. I did not have any although I was like, quite sad I was away from home, you know, those two weeks initial two weeks of crying and yeah, I had the same thing. But I had a pretty good start. Like my colleagues in Pisa, my professor, especially Professor, he was very supportive to me. And my colleagues were quite friendly. So Christina, Emanuele, Ilaria. I still have them as my friends. So, yeah, they were pretty good and very welcoming. So never feel bad actually.

Daniel 38:18

That's the beauty when you meet new people in the country. You have friends all over the world. It's, it's a cool thing. It's pretty cool. And going back to what you said about being humble and the people you met, when you were in Pisa, because you're right, I mean, you probably compared to other situation, you ended up a pretty good life, or you had a pretty good situation, it was kind of fairly easy situation for you to move to Italy or to move to the US. But at the same time in the situation it can be it's really subjective in because somebody compared their life to maybe they grew up in the US to have a career that just follow the normal path and have a good career now, and look at your story like oh, my God, you have like a tough, tough life because you have to go to a country, learn your language. Start from from the bottom and going up and on the ladder and whatever. So it's always like a very subjective depend depend how you look at the situation from.

Arif 39:15

Right, exactly. I mean, I'm sharing my experience, from my perspectives, the way I see life. It can be different for a different person. No, you're absolutely right. Yeah.

Daniel 39:28

Because I can see even for myself from my friends from Italy, they see my situation and it keeps telling me that I was brave. It was courageous doing these things. It was hard. But then now I'm talking with people in my podcast and met more people from different countries. Actually, I met another person the other day, that moved from somewhere near Turkey I don't remember the country. His story was crazy escaping going to prison. They have to leave the country because he was like persecuted by the government, like a crazy story. And then I put my situation like, my life was actually pretty easy. I left Italy, I didn't leave. I didn't escape from war. I left my life in Italy, just because I wanted something more. I was living a pretty good life.

Arif 40:11


Daniel 40:12

So it's always-

Arif 40:13

Yeah, I had a friend, I had a friend, I learned a lot from him in Italy, so he was from Bangladesh, he left the country when he was 25, or 24 years old, he finished his master's degree and move to Italy. Now, after 20 years, what he learned, he said that most of the people from Bangladesh, who, who left the country just to live a better life to get a better job in Italy. A lot of them actually had a different experience because they came abroad, and then they they face the harsh reality. Like they need to find a job. And then if they don't find a reasonable job, they have to do like, live like a street hawkers. And so their perspective of life is very different, right?

Daniel 41:05


Arif 41:05

How do you help them. So he had a theater. And in this theater, he was like organizing place poetry, and always involved those young people who moved out of the country and now and is struggling for a better life, he always invited them. And then he wanted to motivate them about life in a positive sense. Whatever you are doing, however, you are living your life, you have to enjoy your life. And I also joined him for a couple of months, but then he had to stop it, he could not do more. There was a lot of local problems, some local politics, and then he just wanted to move out of it. But you know, a lot of people like who were struggling, who were young, who were in the school or in the college, and moved out of the country at a very early stage of their life, and don't know where to go, because they did not have the skill to have a good job. So they are doing job as a street hawkers or working in a restaurant or in a company as a fourth class labor, you know, so it's very difficult situation for them, their view of life is also very different. So you also need to give them a good thought of, of life, a good view of life, and also like, some education, how to grow some skills in order to get a good job, a better job. Yeah.

Daniel 42:40

Yeah, even like a bring up a good point. Talking about the skills that you have, when you move abroad, you have the skills to be a scientist, you have your brain, you can use that skills in any country, you can provide value in multiple country, there are some other skills or other jobs, that it's harder to, to move to another country. For example, if you're a lawyer in, in Italy, for example, we want to move the US, you can't just like a move to the US and below it, because to start your career from all over again, because you have to start all over again, because the rules are different. If you are, I don't know if it's some traits are just not compatible between countries, if that if you don't have any skills, or if you haven't worked for a long time and don't have any work experience, it's harder to move abroad and find a job and find a sponsor to stay in the country. So even that is not something that I always take it for granted. But now I'm realizing and I was pretty lucky that I chose the path that I chose become electrician, because you can be electrician, yes, the rules changes. But any country you you you go they need electricians, so you can always start from from from that point.

Arif 43:46

Right. Yeah. And I think people are also learning this in different countries, like they are getting some skillful jobs. They are getting skilled before they move out of the country. I think there is more movement of immigrants than before. And people also get more information or have access to more information than before. Yeah, I see a lot of students moving out of different countries going to different countries. It's actually changing. I feel that this geopolitical barrier among different countries, probably it will go away at one point, I don't know. Like, it's, it's becoming a global village now. Right? Literally, like I can talk to anybody anywhere in the world. I can see anybody anywhere in the world. And for education for business people like to move from one country to another and it's happening quite frequently now.

Daniel 44:45

Yeah, not totally probably because the technology how the technology connect people in a much easier way back in the days you have to send a letter to no to your parents to your family back home. Now you can just face them anytime you want. I just I can't even use Imagine if I had to send letters to my family in Italy and receive like a few weeks later, just it's would be much harder.

Arif 45:06

Yeah. I mean, now I talked to my mom and my dad over the viber or the other apps, you know, and they also learn how to run those apps. You know, it's a it's like a very big learning for them. Yeah, I still miss those writing letters, though. writing letters, like putting your thought in the paper. Right now it's more, more even more casual.

Daniel 45:33

And do you feel lucky to be an immigrant?

Arif 45:35

Yeah, I feel like, I feel lucky. Yeah, in the sense that I had a lot, a lot of opportunities to learn see many different things. So yeah, you call it immigrant or what? I don't know. Yeah, I feel lucky.

Daniel 45:48

Okay. And if you could go back in time, to any point in time, what would you say to your young self?

Arif 45:55

I say that to probably move out of home even at a younger age. Yeah, you know, and at least I could explore more countries. Right? Yeah.

Daniel 46:09

I think you would have the mindset younger to actually do it?

Arif 46:13

You know, when I moved out of the country, I was 25 years old, right? As I told you, I still feel that I'm stuck at that age. It's a it's a probably a mental trauma now, I feel like that I still are probably it's, it's my socio economic situation, that I always have to keep myself young and energetic to move on. I still feel like I'm still stuck at that age.

Daniel 46:41

I feel the same until I speak to somebody that's 25 years old and I feel old. And do you have any particular advice you like to give to the listeners?

Arif 46:52

Um, I don't know, advice. No, I I can share I can share a view about life is that there is nothing definitive in life. And as soon as we accept that, that there will be uncertainties in life. But one thing that we have to keep in mind is that we have to be open and need to have a mindset of an explorer. Give yourself an opportunity.

Daniel 47:20

Yeah, and I think in my opinion, it's easier when you are an immigrant being like so open minded. Yeah.

Arif 47:27

You have to be.

Daniel 47:29

Yeah, you have to be here. Right. Awesome. Thank you so much, Arif to taking the time to share your story. Anybody relate to your story wants to get in touch with you out they can find you?

Arif 47:40

Yeah, I can reach by email. Yeah, email. I also have a Twitter account. That's my name. mursumon or or my email address right? Arif Rahman,

Daniel 48:04

Okay, I will put everything in the show notes for people so it will be easier to find you. Awesome. Thank you. Thank you so much.

Arif 48:10

Thanks so much, Danielle. Thanks for giving me this opportunities and especially sharing all the all this all these stories that I have never shared with anyone probably. Thanks a lot. I enjoyed this a lot.

Daniel 48:25

It was my pleasure. Because you he kind of know a little bit of my culture. There was a I felt like it close to you because of the you do a little bit of my culture as well. Awesome.

Arif 48:36

Thanks a lot Daniel.

Daniel 48:37

Thank you so much. Okay, Ciao!

Thank you so much for tuning in this week. You can find the show notes with everything we discussed and the links to get in touch with Arif If you want to support the show, you can share this episode with your friends, or you can leave us a review on Apple podcast at bar chaser. If you'd like to share your story, you can send me an email at stories at or visit Thanks again for listening. Talk to you in the next one. Ciao!