Khadija Malik Summer 2020 Blog

by Khadija Malik, September 14, 2020

Taking a culinary degree was something I had always wanted to do. I never thought I’d do it this late in life. I came to Chicago one year ago to the day. It was a journey for which I had not entirely prepared myself. Everything from convincing my family, to applying for a visa, and then packing and coming here, seems to have been a daze. I remember the anticipation I felt as I lined up to clear customs and immigration. I checked and re-checked my documents, guessing in what order they might want to see my papers. I cleared customs, grabbed my luggage and was greeted by friendly faces as I left the airport. My cousins, great aunt, and uncle were all there to pick me up. Over the next few days, I gathered my school supplies, ordered my uniforms, and got myself school ready.

On Friday, September 11th, I took the final for my associate degree. I left campus and hopped on the bus to go home, and it hit me that I was done with the academic element of my degree.

I recalled my first day and the eagerness with which I attended class. My first day for my on-campus job, coming in at 5:00 am, an hour earlier, to make sure I wasn’t late. The numerous finals for various courses. The number of times I felt exhausted or tired and picked myself right up. The many meals I shared in the school cafeteria with classmates and friends. The continued guidance from my chef instructors. The love of friends made in a year (a feat I felt was impossible in my thirties). The kindness of strangers. The many busses I missed and the many kind bus drivers who would see me soaking in the rain and would pull over at the earliest possible stop. The hunt for Pakistani food when I was homesick. COVID-19 shutting down the entire city, nay the whole world. The biggest political and social movement in modern America – Black Lives Matter. The amazing food I discovered and ate.  And best of all, being selected for a scholarship so that I can continue my journey of learning towards a Bachelors in Culinary Arts. For all this city is and for all that it has offered, I am truly grateful.

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