My Thick Accent

Witnessing Resilience: An Evolution Across Borders | Ft. Asifa Popal Ep 035

June 29, 2023 Gurasis Singh Season 1 Episode 35
My Thick Accent
Witnessing Resilience: An Evolution Across Borders | Ft. Asifa Popal Ep 035
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Do you ever wonder what it takes to navigate a foreign culture, learn a new language, and adapt to a new way of life, all while pursuing a lofty dream? Meet Asifa, an Afghan native whose journey from her war-torn homeland through the vibrant streets of India, to the serene expanses of Canada, and eventually the US, is an inspiring testament to the power of resilience and adaptability. Asifa's story is a masterclass in overcoming obstacles, embracing change, and harnessing the beauty of cultural diversity.

As we journey with Asifa, we encounter her challenges and victories in immigration, learning English as her fourth language, and navigating cultural and educational differences. Her quest for a visa, the cultural shock of India, and her eventual transition to Canada and the US make for a captivating narrative. Her experiences provide valuable insights for anyone facing similar transitions, or simply curious about the experience of life across different cultures and geographies.

We also delve into Asifa's career transformation from law to holistic health coaching, a shift born from her personal wellness journey. COVID-19 derailed her plans for a juice bar but led her to create a program encapsulating her knowledge. We discuss Asifa's school and family life balance, and her experiences living both with family and on campus. From the worst advice she ever got to her lessons on resilience, Asifa's wisdom resonates through each story. Join us for this engrossing conversation and remember to subscribe to our podcast and follow us on Instagram for more inspiring narratives.

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Asifa:

The first day I remember when I grabbed a couple of things that I wanted to buy, brought them to the cashier and the cashier was like your total adds up to this much. My total. What is total? Like I didn't understand the cause of this. In India they said total, the pronunciation and accent everything was different. What does he mean by total? What is total in this? That's just a juice and some. There's no total in here. That was really funny.

Gurasis:

So in this episode, we'll delve into the theme of resilience and the pursuit of new beginnings which lies at the heart of our podcast. The story of our guest today is a testament to the human spirit's ability to overcome obstacles and embrace change. Born in Afghanistan and later venturing into India than Canada and now US, she embodies the essence of cultural diversity and the experiences that come with living across different geographies. Let's learn more from her, as she shares her insights, experiences and wisdom gained from a life shaped by diverse cultures and the pursuit of new beginnings. Please welcome Asifa.

Asifa:

Hi everyone, thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here. It's going to be a fun time together with my stories.

Gurasis:

Absolutely Very excited to talk to you. Thank you for coming to the podcast. So, asifa, let me start by asking you which I asked most of my guests that what's this one habit you adopted that has changed your life?

Asifa:

The one habit that I have adopted is keep adjusting to new life. I love change. I always make changes in my life and adjusting to those changes, adjusting to new life, that's the habit that I'm proud of.

Gurasis:

Definitely. I think that's the theme of my podcast as well to embrace change and embrace living in this new world, for sure. Okay, so let me take you back to the time we spent in Afghanistan, particularly in Kabul, i believe, where you were born. Yes, tell us a little bit about your native years, and how was it like just growing up there?

Asifa:

Okay, just to give you a little bit of a brief background about Afghanistan.

Asifa:

It's a war zone, most of the time There was war going on all the time, So my childhood was in war, but it was not so bad because we lived in Kabul. It was the capital. It was a cold war at a time between Russia and the US and our country was affected as well, But we were not so much worried because the capital, Kabul, was safer And I had a happy childhood. I was born in a middle-class family. There was a lot of form, love and entertainment every weekend, which included Hindi, watching Hindi movies every week religiously That's why it's in my memory all the time And we learned Hindi language. It was a fun time we had.

Asifa:

And then civil war broke out in Afghanistan and we had to leave Afghanistan. We moved to India And in India we were like now we are experts in Hindi language and now we will not have any problem, And we were excited to be in a country that we always dream to see, because we were watching movies and we always wished to see the movie stars plays, India and Mumbai. So now we are finally in India. We were really excited to be in India And, yeah, that was like a brief information about my journey from Afghanistan to India.

Gurasis:

And what city did you guys go to in India? New Delhi, new Delhi, okay. And what was like, would you say, the most amusing or like an interesting cultural difference you encountered while when you first arrived in India?

Asifa:

Indian culture is a little bit similar to our culture.

Asifa:

But in India it was a different environment. People are very social, warm. It was like easy to adjust to that culture. For me It was not a big cultural shock. They call it And I was already familiar with the culture a little bit from the movies. But they were not familiar with my culture. So I had to kind of teach my friends this, where I'm coming from And this is our culture, this is me And this is my family, and it was a pleasant experience. I loved the weather, the food, the social life. I didn't hear the word depression in India at all And my eight years I lived there. I never heard this word depression because it didn't exist. I didn't see it. So it didn't exist. Maybe there is some, but I didn't see it. But when I came to Canada for the first time I heard the word depression that I was not familiar with. So that experience in India is a pleasant experience.

Gurasis:

There could also be possibility. That isn't it in here the word depression, because maybe like a decade ago or maybe more than that, the word depression was itself a taboo. Like you cannot say the word depression If somebody says that maybe the person is sick. That was how it was kind of signified. So but but I think at the same time understand the point you're coming from there. Yes, in general in India people try to, you know, live together, the families live together, they celebrate together, they have some of the other things like every weekend planned, i think. Sometimes I remember my aunts and uncles would come randomly in the evening, you know, knock our doors and come and sit with us and have dinner sometimes and nothing is scheduled there. That could be the case.

Asifa:

It doesn't happen anywhere. Yeah, it happened in. India. And yes, i can understand also because at the time there was no phone or anything.

Asifa:

So so people just randomly show up and knock and you're like, hey, they call it unexpected guest here. but it was like a surprise for us and we would always be happy to see someone randomly, and that was a something in India also. That's what my friends would do. They would just come. We didn't have cell phone at the time. We had one phone at home, but there was no cell phone. So they would just show up and then they would be like okay, do you want to study together? Do you want to go for a movie? But to my surprise, in Afghanistan we were watching Hindi movies. But when I came to India, indians were interested more in American movies. So in India a weekend we were going to watch American movies, not Indian movies. That was like it was a little bit funny because we were watching Hindi movies like regularly, on a daily basis, but then, like on the weekends, we would go watch American movies, because Indians like American movies a lot. And yeah, it was. it was a very great experience that I had.

Gurasis:

I think it all depends which part of India you live in or you go to, i think. I think, for example, if you come go from the Northwest and power where I come from, punjab, we might watch more Hindi and Punjabi movies. But then I think the place you were living in was one of like the metropolitan cities, right, and they were very much influenced by the not influenced but exposed to the western culture a little more than the other cities, i would say. So that could be the reasons you are watching the American movie.

Asifa:

Yeah, it could be because people were speaking like half English, half Hindi as well. There was not a hundred percent Hindi. So yeah, you're right.

Gurasis:

And if you could like go back, i see fun live like one memory from your childhood, maybe in Afghanistan or India. Which one it would be and why?

Asifa:

the only one memory that I am always, that I would always remember, was this family connection. family connection we had in Afghanistan and the same thing in India. So, like here, you have to get to know the person for a long time and before you get connected and be friendship and any kind of relationship. But over there it's not like that.

Asifa:

You just meet the person, you open up The person opens up to you and you open up to them, and then your friends, your family. That's the only memory that I always keep from my channel. It happened to me most of my childhood in Afghanistan and India. I didn't see a big difference. It was easy to make friends in both places.

Gurasis:

Okay, yeah, i think I can also kind of think of the same thing. Like I come from a family where we were 15 people living in the same house. I would love to go back and experience that again, just that, having so many people around in, so many like positivity around you, i think I would say I kind of miss that. So, moving on, let's just pivot towards talking about your move to Canada and immigrating itself to a new country is a challenge, and you and your family were doing it for the second time. So the last little bit about that then why did you guys decide to do that and how was that whole process for you like?

Asifa:

Yes, it was a fun process In India. we lived there for about eight years. but it's very, very hard to get Indian citizenship And if you don't have, Indian citizenship, you're not allowed to work And there's a lot of things that you cannot do in India. So that was the only problem we had, and you could go back to Afghanistan, because there was war going on.

Asifa:

And this is why we applied to a Canadian embassy and we explained the situation. We got accepted. The process took about two years And this is how we got our permanent residency while we were in India for Canada and we moved to Canada, So that was the other ways I would have stayed there. I remember talking about memory before.

Asifa:

The only pleasant. It's also a pleasant memory that I have from India is that I had a lot of experience in the past. I participated in a beauty contest in New Delhi because I was a model And I made it up to semi-final And then somebody complained and then said she's not an Indian citizen. What is she doing? Oh no. So I was like sad and frustrated first but then I was like no, that's okay, because she's right. She has absolutely the right to be in this contest, but I don't have citizenship, so I'm not representing Indian beauty. It's going to be from another country. So she's absolutely right. She's absolutely right And I didn't mind it. So that was a great experience.

Asifa:

The excitement of rehearsal and getting ready for the contest and going through this process, that process, meeting new people, taking pictures and all that was like great memory. But I'm still grateful that at least they gave me that opportunity to join it, to participate in that contest, because I was a teenager I was like 19 years old at the time and that was the only thing that I was so bad. If it didn't happen it will be even worse, but they let me join it, they let me participate it, and if later on it didn't happen. It was for the right reason. So I had the excitement to do it at a time, but now that I have Canadian citizenship I didn't have that excitement. I could have participated in any beauty contest in Canada, but I didn't have that passion anymore. It was only there in India and at a time, and I'm grateful that they gave me the opportunity to participate. So that was the reason we had to leave India and move to Canada.

Gurasis:

And just for my knowledge and for my listeners also. So we talk a lot about Canadian immigration coming to Canada and all that. Literally, I think I am completely alien to the Indian immigration system. So if you can educate a little bit that, how did that work? Like were you on a certain visa in India, How did that work?

Asifa:

Yes, we were getting visa through United Nations, so there was a United Nations office in India. Yes, you're right, they won't let you stay for a long time in India. Every country is like that. You have to have a reason for staying. It has to be investment or business or education or something. But we didn't have any of that. So every family that gets out from a war zone and they come to India, they would help them get the visa and tell the Indian government that the reason for our stay in India is because we cannot go back to.

Asifa:

Afghanistan. There's not going on in Afghanistan. and this is how we were getting visa, for one year, i believe, and then every year we would renew it. So every year Indian government would be like, okay, so how is everything now? Can they go back to Afghanistan or not? And then the Indian and the United Nations would be like no, another year. So this is how we were getting our visa.

Gurasis:

And so you were studying there. But your parents, how are they working? You're allowed to work on that visa that you get.

Asifa:

No, that was the problem. We were not allowed to work because if you're not an Indian citizen, you're not allowed to work. I am in the United States right now. I am waiting for my green card and I'm not working right now. So I have my health coaching business, which is kind of global.

Gurasis:

And.

Asifa:

I can do that, but I'm not allowed to work here in the United States because I'm not an American citizen and I don't even have a green card. So it's the rule in every country, and India was the same. We were not allowed to work, but I guess we could open a business. But we didn't do that. My father was like old at the time and he was retired. He was a businessman all his life. He had an important export business with Germany, from Afghanistan to Germany. But at the time when we lived in India, he was not in a condition It should work, it should work And it got held to start over another business. So that's why we couldn't work.

Gurasis:

Sorry, i'm prompting again. My question is how are you making a living then? Like for eight years you guys were living there.

Asifa:

Yeah, my father would sell our properties in Afghanistan.

Gurasis:

Oh, okay.

Asifa:

We would sell our property in Afghanistan and bring money to India because we were kids. My brother was a teenager When we came to India. We were like 14, 15. And my mom, of course, was a housewife. My father was retired, So that's what my father was doing He was selling our properties in Afghanistan and then would spend it in India.

Gurasis:

So let's just go back to the time when you finally moved to Canada. I believe it was in 2001, when you first finally decided to move. Tell us about your first day. What were your initial impressions or emotions?

Asifa:

A lot of excitement because now we found a second home. So we lost our first home, which was Afghanistan, and we were like temporarily living in India. But now it was our second home and we knew that we would get our citizenship in here, we would start our new life in here and we will be living here permanently. And we were like we speak the language. That's another good thing. We will not have any problem. But the first day I remember when I grabbed a couple of things that I wanted to buy, brought them to the cashier and the cashier was like you're total adds up to this much And my total what is total? I don't understand because of the total In India I don't remember really. It's different. They said total something, but then the pronunciation and accent, everything was different. He's like what is he mean by total? What is total in this? That's just a juice and there's no total in here. It was really funny. It was my first day in Canada because I see how big a difference was between.

Gurasis:

Yeah.

Asifa:

But then at the back of my head, maybe his English is not good because there's a lot of immigrants in Canada. I like that. We heard that there's a lot of immigrants in Canada, but that was not the case. I was not right. I was not wrong because I learned it in a different country and he was not wrong, but I thought it was his English that was bad, not mine.

Gurasis:

That's funny. I remember you also saying that English was your fourth language. Your native language was that, which is very similar to Farsi, i believe It's just a different dialect, and then you also learned Pashto and then Urdu. So tell us a little bit more about your experiences with the languages in Canada.

Asifa:

Yeah, absolutely So. My mother tongue is Pashto And at home we were speaking Pashto, but I was born in Kabul. The main language in Kabul is Persian. We call it Dari. It's a different dialect of Persian.

Gurasis:

Okay.

Asifa:

That's spoken in Iran. So I was learning Dari at school And so, as I grew up, i learned these two languages together at the same time, and when we came to India, of course I learned Hindi or Urdu, they call it, so I learned that language. And then in Canada, so I was learning Hindi and English at the same time in India, and then when we went to Canada, it was just English. I just focused on my English, which made it my fourth language that I was trying to learn properly.

Gurasis:

Yeah, And are there any misunderstandings that might have happened? Of course you shared one of these and I'll give you an example with me. If for me it was always with the rolling of Rs, for example, in India we say work not work, we say birth not birth, or we say turbo not turbo, there's a difference in the Rs. Probably This is one of the experiences which I experienced. Another thing was with some vocabulary, for example the word deceased. In my mind I thought it means finished, it's completed. In my mind, that's what I thought.

Gurasis:

I was working at a call center once and I was used to code the calls at the end, to mark it as complete or they're not complete, or various other options were there And I kept on marking the calls deceased, deceased, deceased because in my mind I thought the calls are completed, they are done. And then my manager called me after a few minutes and he said so in the past one hour you have marked 15 calls deceased. Are you saying that you could not speak to 15 people because they are dead? I said no. In my mind, i thought it means they're completed. So did you have? do you remember any such anecdotes, any such instances, maybe in your school, anything that you can think of. You were telling me about your experiences in the class right Difficult to understand the professor sometime.

Asifa:

Yes, yes, because it was a different dialect and accent and I will be focusing a lot and then to understand. It took me like one year to learn English, for, first of all, not learn English, but just the basic, before I got to a university. And at the university I had this problem and then sometimes I would just go to sleep because, because when you focus on something so much, it's me, i don't know, i just I just go to sleep. So I just got to sleep because of I was because I was focusing so much on trying to understand and I was reading a lot and I started reading a lot and, yeah, so from reading you, you understand very well.

Asifa:

And another problem was that I was not speaking a lot with people, it was just listening to the lecture and reading. And for a long time I was like, even now I'm still struggling when I'm speaking, because, because now the thing is that I speak all four language kind of the same time, like during the day. I have Indian friends in here, i have friends from Kabul, very speak friends, so I can speak all languages simultaneously on regular basis every week, every day. So maybe that's not letting me focus on just one language and, and become like like 100% fluent in that language. You know, so it's all yeah from this language to this.

Asifa:

Switching from one language to another could be that it's.

Gurasis:

It's also about what language you think in. Right, like lots time people say, oh, i think in a certain language, but I can't communicate in the same is that the case with you as well?

Asifa:

exactly, yes, yes, so I always think in in Pashto and sometimes. But then I also took some French classes in India, and one thing I learned about from them is that they say learn French from French, with French. Yeah, you don't translate your language in French. Learn French in French that's the one thing.

Asifa:

So now I'm still struggling with that. So I think in Pashto and I kind of speak in Pashto in my mind and then translate that in English, which is not the right way, and I've been telling this to everyone who's trying to learn a second language or third language just forget about what. Forget about your own language. Learn the new language in that language. So English in English. This is how you will perfect it. So, but I'm still struggling with it sometimes because it's a habit, it's childhood, it was my mother thing and I was thinking and speaking in that language, and but now I know but I think it's also the effort that counts.

Gurasis:

You know, you just trying to learn that fourth language. I think that's commendable. And then there are people here who sometimes even question your languages or your accents. Right, like, especially like in Canada. When I came, people would question and but they don't see that we are literally speaking our third language. For example, i speak Hindi, punjabi and then the English. Okay, so see, if I just give it to words. A little bit about the cultural differences, cultural shock, so to say. So was there, like any, the most interesting cultural difference that you encountered when you first arrived in Canada? I'll give you, like my example, that for me the biggest culture shock was calling my professors by their name, because in India we always say sir, our ma'am. So do you remember any of those?

Asifa:

yes, yes, i'm not noticed that, but I remember that now. Yeah, i wasn't feeling comfortable calling my professor by name, because it was the same. Yeah, i'm in India and I've been doing one for a long time and I came to Canada and there was like a different, completely different culture and what should I call it unpleasant or ugly? ugly memory that I have in in Canada is that we were still learning, and I think I was learning English. It was English class or math class. Yes, it was our math class, for I was preparing for my university, so we had an exam and the exam was a little bit hard. So, of course, all exams are hard and we are all working on this paper. We're still writing the exam. And then one guy, a Canadian guy, got up and he took the paper, the exam paper, and he slammed it on the paper on the table where our teacher was sitting okay because he was mad, because he was like why did you make this exam so complicated?

Asifa:

so he no really took the paper and then he, boom, slammed it on the table and I looked everybody else looked what's going on. I was like that's a little bit, i mean disrespect to the teacher, you know to me I was still learning about adjusting and learning about the culture. Maybe it's not make it's just him.

Asifa:

He just showed who he was and how he felt in the exam yeah maybe he was right, maybe the exam was complicated for that level, i don't know. But then I'm not judging him, i'm not saying that what he did was wrong, but to me it was a cultural shock. You know, that was like a cultural shock and it was only because at the time I was, i thought it was ugly, because I was like you always respect your teacher, parents, you always respect them, you like, whatever problem you have, you you say, with respect, you know. So that was that was funny. And then the professor, just the teacher, just smiled and we went ahead with the exam so okay, yeah, this reminds me that I also noticed.

Gurasis:

Another thing very similar to this was actually getting heads on with the teacher in a class, like being able to debate. That is not something I think we were able to do in India, but here people were very casually debating no, like even the saying the word no. I don't agree with you, i don't agree the way you are saying this. We just cannot, we just could not say that in India yeah, yeah, yeah, that's right.

Asifa:

Yeah, so these are the chances that I was always experiencing at school, at the university, and then also, the students will just leave the class before the class ended, which was. I was okay with that because I was like, in our culture, you have to sit at, sit till the class is finished, even if you have to go out there.

Asifa:

You could be some reason that you want to go out. It could be a phone call. It could be that you're not feeling good. You know you're allowed to do any time, or maybe you have an appointment, you know. But if it's going to cause a problem it will be your problem, not not a teacher's problem, you know. But then I would see in the class people leaving before the class was ended. I was like, do not supposed to, because the the professor would get mad if we leave the class before it's ended. That's how it was in Afghanistan. So there were a lot of things that we were just observing, that I would just observe, and then I just do it, learn about it and justify it. So that was a fun experience. And the same thing with America, and even in America here there are being some things differently than Canada. So I'm all now I have become expert in adjusting, starting a new life. So that's what I have been doing all my life almost okay, so, speaking of which, tell us that.

Gurasis:

How has your, this multicultural background influenced your sense of identity? how do you define that?

Asifa:

to a great extent. I just feel that I'm nobody and I'm proud of saying that before I was holding to a to a to a to an identity. Oh here, i'm, afghan, i am, i'm a student, and this and that and the dollar of so-and-so in India, i was like it was a different. It was like now I'm, i'm, i'm a sofa, i am doing this where I'm from Afghanistan, adjusting to this life, and in Canada I came to Canada. Now I'm like in Canadian now. So I'm Afghan Canadian, not Canadian Canadian, but Afghan Canadian. That was my identity, kind of you know. And now here in the US, what I call myself Afghan Canadian American, because I'm soon going to get my green card. I got buried here a year ago, so now I'm at the point that I don't want any identity. I am, i'm a free spirit. I'm experiencing life in every place, in every country, but it doesn't, whatever the time. Experience is not me. That's my experience and there will be more experience, more experience. I cannot be, everything.

Asifa:

And now I'm more spiritual. I'm learning from sad guru. He's very famous in the stick and he talks about it. He's like detach your, your identity, your body, from you are. Who you are is not what you look like. Who you are is not your physical body. Who you are is a different thing. It's your spirit, it's your soul. So so now, with all these identities, i wanted to become a lawyer. I want to become a lawyer. I was studying criminal law. Yeah, i want to become. I want to become this, i want to become this. But now I just want to become Asafa.

Gurasis:

Yeah, yeah, that's a great answer. I like the way how you put it that all these experiences have made you and you are Asafa because of all these experiences. You are not Asafa because not you are need to be identified with a certain nationality or something. I like that. I like the way you are thinking.

Asifa:

That's what I'm thinking Yes, yes, i'm not looking for any identity anymore, i'm looking for experience. So my identity is known now. It's just Asafa and I have borrowed this body from our mother earth and I'm experiencing life with the tool that I have, which is my body, and this is what I have learned from Sadguru. So this is life is all about experience. All experience, joy, anything that sadness, sorrow, all experience, just experience it, just keep experiencing it. I never say I'm sad because I'm a soul. I'm not Asafa, i'm a happy person. I'm not sad. Sadness is just experience. You know, becoming a lawyer is just an experience.

Asifa:

I'm depressed? I would never say that. I used to say that a lot in Canada. When I came after three years or so, i became very depressed because it was a big cultural shock and loneliness and lost social life and the interaction with humans and everything. I was feeling depressed. But I've changed my language. Now If I say I'm depressed, that would be wrong to say it. I feel depressed. That would be okay, because this is how you feel. It's an experience. It's not you. Who you are is different. Who you are is the spirit. The spirit is never depressed. So now I don't attach anything to myself.

Gurasis:

I like that, you know, i think we also hear this quote sometimes that it's just a bad day, it's not a bad life, or like you are not a bad person, it's just an experience.

Asifa:

It is experience, yeah, and then if you're trying to avoid pain and avoid, let's say, complication and everything, you are not living. If you're living. This is a part of life.

Asifa:

You know joy, pain, complication, problems It's all part of life. We cannot avoid one thing and then choose another thing. We're here to experience both. So I always tell my friends when they are like complaining about life and like you are greater than the problem that you have, If you just give it time and then thinking it will go away, it's not permanent, Nothing permanent you know. So you will come out of it strong and happy. Just that's not life, As you just said. That's not life. Yeah, Life is not pain or sorrow, It's happiness and joy.

Gurasis:

Okay, so see, if I this would be like a great segue to talk about. You know, keep glowing, sana. Like you said, you were a criminal, you were studying criminal law and then you transitioned into becoming, like, a holistic health coach. Tell us, like, how did that happen? and also a little bit about your business.

Asifa:

Yeah, sure, it was always my passion to learn law criminal law, that's why I started it, and I wanted to become a lawyer So I still have one year left to become a lawyer and I realized that it was my passion, for sure. But then, at the same time, help was my passion as well, because every time I took a break from my studies during the day, i would just research articles and books about health. How can I stay healthy, how can I improve my skin and my energy? I would do that. And then I was like I love this and why don't I just?

Asifa:

I became a juice therapist, also took some classes and became a juice therapist. So I was like now I want to open a juice bar and help people with this product, because it all started with soda. I was seeing my friends drinking a lot of soda and I knew how harmful soda is for them. But then I learned about how healthy juice is for you And I was like maybe I should just open a juice bar and I have very good healthy juice recipes and offer it to people so they can stay healthy, as I am, because I was drinking it every week and every day and I wanted everybody to experience that and then stay healthy. But then I was still studying for my masters. But then one day I graduated and my marks were very good.

Asifa:

My professor would give me a bonus and I was very excited about that. But then all of a sudden, after I graduated, two weeks after I graduated, instead of applying for jobs, i was like no, i'm going to open a juice bar. So I came to Arizona, i talked to the, to places where I'll be a kitchen, kitchen's actually to make juices, because I was not allowed to make it at home. Of course I was started small, so the Arizona government said that you have to have a commercial area. So I was like very close to sign the lease and start making juice in that kitchen. The COVID broke out. Covid broke out.

Asifa:

And I was again very frustrated and was like again another turning point, another big change in my life. Because I was all prepared to open the juice bar And then the COVID broke out and then it was risky to do that. And first I was frustrated and I was sad but then I was like, oh my God, i should be grateful, because if I signed that lease nobody would be buying juice because all business were closed. Business would be stuck. Yeah, bookings were getting canceled, flights were getting canceled. Then I would be stuck with this lease for a year or so.

Asifa:

So I should be grateful instead of complaining. This is why I believe that things happen for a reason. I didn't know what the reason was at the time, but that was the main reason. That's why I delayed. So I was like that's good that it didn't happen and I didn't waste money. But then I was like what am I going to do now? So I thought I would just gather all my knowledge that I have and put it in a program, because everyone was asking me about my program. Everyone was asking me how come I'm healthier and looking younger than they are? They were my age. my friends were my age. What are you doing? I was like I just have some tips and lifestyle that I follow for a couple of years, that's all. So I was like you know what? I'm just going to gather all the information in a program. I put it in a program. If it worked for me, it's going to work for you, and it already worked for you, and I'm just going to share it with everyone else. And then I also got certified as a holistic health coach, so that's how it started.

Asifa:

So I just switched from one thing to another. I'm not saying that it was all waste of time. But when I look back at it, i spent so much money and time and effort to become a lawyer And then it's okay. Another message to everyone who's listening is that it's okay. Everything that happens in your life is okay. If you have done something and it didn't work out the way you want it, it's okay, and if you switch from one thing to another, it's okay.

Asifa:

So all my life I thought my only passion was to become a lawyer. But then later in my life I learned that no, becoming a lawyer when I was studying for my law degree, i was getting tired of studying that and then I would switch to something else, which was health. But when I'm studying about health and researching about health, i never get tired. Even if I get tired, i still want to do more research. I still want to learn more, to an extent that I force myself to not do it anymore because it's my passion. I'm enjoying it.

Asifa:

Sometimes I stay and I'm studying until late night. I don't mind it, but when I was studying law, there was a limit. Okay. Now I'm tired of the book, but when I'm studying about health, i don't want to close the book. I want to study and learn forever. There is no limit. So you learn about yourself. Life is all about discovering about yourself, learning about yourself. It's okay if you just switch your career. It's okay if you change your location. It's all okay because you're learning, you're growing And you're not just a message and people are like, oh my God, and then people are criticizing it, then you spend as much money, why did you switch your career? It's okay, it's okay.

Gurasis:

Yeah, yeah, i want to highlight this one thing. You mentioned that you know everything does not happen to you, it happens for you. You just have to find the good in every adversity that come your way. And yes, as if I think me along with my listeners can, i think, hear the passion in your voice when you talk about this health coaching business. So tell me, like, where people can connect with you if you just want to consult you.

Asifa:

Instagram, facebook, linkedin. It's just my name, asifa Hopal, and they can look for me on Instagram or Facebook or LinkedIn, whatever platform they are active at. I'm mostly active on LinkedIn now because this is my favorite. I learn a lot from LinkedIn and I also teach a lot on LinkedIn. That's the only platform I'm active on for now, and I also offer free coaching session. Like the first session is free for everyone. It's just getting to know the person And I just love talking about health, and it's also a good experience for me because every person is different. I customize a health program for each person. It's not one program for everybody. It doesn't work that way. So the more I learn about different people, the more I enhance my knowledge. So this is my win. When I offer free session to people, i learn about them, about their health issues, and at the same time, it's a win for them because I create a mini health program for them that they can implement right after the call. So if anyone is interested, i offer them free coaching session.

Gurasis:

So to all my listeners. links to contact to Sifa can be found in the show notes. Before we jump into the final segment, i very quickly just want to touch upon the point which we discussed earlier was immigrating with parents or with your family comes with own set of challenges which people might not understand and they say, oh, your chores might be taken care of, your cooking might be taken care of, you can focus on your career or your education. That's not the case. It comes with one set of challenges and one set of dynamics And I wonder, just since you have gone, you have experienced that. Tell us a little bit about those pros and cons, if you can share.

Asifa:

Yeah, of course. So when I was studying at the university I live with my family and then there were students who lived on campus. So they were probably was away, like in India or Europe, but they lived on campus at the university And they would look at me. They would be like, oh, now we have to go home and then we have to cook, sometimes We have to do our laundry, we have to buy a grocery and all that. You're lucky When you go home your food is ready. You bring home food from home, sometimes it's ready, and then your mom might be doing your laundry also. Sometimes she does when I have exams, but not all the time.

Asifa:

And they thought I was in a good position, but then I was like, no, i think you guys are in a good position because for me on the weekends my mom doesn't speak English. I have to take her to the doctor, i have to take her to grocery shopping And I have to take her to her friend's place if she wants to visit any of her friends. And that takes time, energy and effort and it distracts me from my school, from my studies. I give her like one full day to do all this, and sometimes one and a half day, so the weekend is only two days and I don't have much time to study. You guys don't have that. It's just you and your school. So there's pros and cons in each situation, but we have to be grateful in both cases.

Gurasis:

Absolutely.

Asifa:

You just learn how to adjust to it, just learn how to deal with it. If you're living alone in your study, that's awesome, because it's now you and all your focus is on your school and yourself. It's so easy to do that.

Asifa:

You can just plan it. You come up and manage time. I don't agree with that. You manage activities. So you have your activities and being this activity or this task at this time on this day, and this is how you will make it work. And then, when you come home, it's you and your school and your studies which is better, which makes it look better. But then, on the other hand, yes, i was like spending time and effort with my mom and my family and my like teenager brother also, but then, at the same time, when you come home, you're tired from all day and then you talk, you give them a hug, you talk to them you talk to them how good your day was or how bad your day was and how you did in school, and you get this positive energy from them.

Asifa:

They pray for you, they wish your success, and then you talk about all that and there's energy exchange. All the stress will go away and then feel better and positive and eager for the next day And you go to sleep very good, because now you have someone that's supporting you emotionally and wish you success in your studies. So it's just up to you Just find the good things in every situation and focus on those good things. Negative things Yeah, definitely.

Gurasis:

No situation is better than the other, it's just about how you perceive it. That's how I would say that, yeah, okay. So, asifa, now you know the final segment of the podcast. I call it Beneath the Accent. I'm going to ask a couple of questions. You can answer them in one word, or a sentence, or house server, you feel like The idea is just to know more about Asifa. So are you ready? Sure, so first is, what advice would you give to Asifa, who is in the initial months of landing in Canada?

Asifa:

So my only advice would be to that younger Asifa that landed in Canada Don't be so stubborn that you know what you're going to do. It's know what your passion is. Just be a little bit flexible. Ask people. Ask people connect with people.

Asifa:

talk to people. Whatever you want to become, find that person as a mentor. I wanted to study political science. I should have talked to someone who has studied political science and then I use their advice as my mentor and do a little bit of research and see is it what I want, is it what I really want? But no, i was very stubborn, very stubborn.

Asifa:

I was like no, this is it?

Asifa:

I'm just doing this political science No matter what. And then I wasn't doing well in political science, i didn't like it and switched it. And then when you're not, when you don't have a strong passion for something, you fail. That's what happened. Political science. I thought I had a strong passion for it, but I didn't, because my marks were like suffering. My grades were going down, down, down down all the time, and to the point that I was almost failing it. And then with criminal law, my marks were like going up, going up, up, and then I was even getting like a bonus. So we had it out of 100, then a bonus on top of that. But that was the new passion, i thought you know.

Asifa:

And then came my health journey, which is even better than what I've been doing all this time. So so that would be my only advice to the, to the younger us. But it landed.

Gurasis:

And is there any worst advice someone ever gave you?

Asifa:

A lot, a lot of the advisors, and they all didn't come from my family, to be honest. Yes, our families are great. Our family always in our culture. Our family always wants us to become best, to become something, to find an identity, become an engineer, a lawyer or anything.

Gurasis:

The classic professions.

Asifa:

Yes, it's you, it's your life, it's your passion, it's your ability, it's your capacity. It's different. They don't understand that. They just want this and then what you are is maybe different.

Asifa:

So the greatest advice that came to me were not from my family, and the reason for that is because they wanted something different for me and I wanted something different for me. They didn't understand me. I understood myself, and the greatest advice from business coaches I followed my passion, which was being it was opening a juice bar, and I was listening to all these business coaches and learn from them So many advices that I learned from them. So many things that I learned from them about myself. So many things that I learned from they say sad guru about myself, like I a lot of things that I didn't know about myself. I learned from them. And then it resonated to me. I was like my God, yes, that's absolutely right. So I followed those advice.

Asifa:

And there's another thing that I always do, and that is I don't want to do anything that my family has done. I would do anything that my culture would say don't do it. I would do anything that my religion would say don't do it. I would do anything that my family would say don't do it. I would do it. I'll still do it. Experience it. I'm breaking the program. I'm breaking the program because I know that my friends were following a program. They were told what to do. They did it, and then they want us to do what they did. It doesn't have to be that way. Every person should have a different life. There should be changes. There should be improvement, progress, growth. That's another thing that I was doing since I was a teenager.

Asifa:

Participating in this beauty contest was against my culture, it was against my religion, it was against my family reputation. My mom was not happy about it. When I did that, i didn't tell my brothers about it. I didn't tell my father about it, but I still did it because my spirit was telling me just do it. It's just something different. Just do it. The one thing that they wanted me to do at the time was to get married, find a husband, have children. That's what they wanted for me to do. I rejected it. I was like, no, i'm not doing that. I'm doing something different. This is something that my grandmother did, my grand-grandmother did and you did, but I don't have to do that. I want to do something different. I want to study. I want to participate in this beauty contest. There's so much in life. That's what I've been doing all my life.

Gurasis:

I'm so glad you did that. Good for you and, i think, more power to other women as well who will just stand against these traditional orthodox ideologies. I really hope they fight there. I always say that our parents are product of their own time and they try to pass on what they were taught in their time. You don't have to follow it all the time, it's okay.

Asifa:

I'm not saying that nobody should listen to our parents at all. Not saying that because there were a lot of things that they taught us Yeah of course, i use that. we have now come from them respecting people, discipline. There's so many things that we learn from them and I respect them for teaching me that There's so many things. but then, at the same time, my point is not everything has to be what they want us to do. That's my point. I'm not saying that we shouldn't be listening to our parents at all.

Gurasis:

Of course. What's the one thing you learned from each country you lived in, starting from Afghanistan, then India and then Canada?

Asifa:

Okay, so respect, a lot of respect from Afghanistan, and then love from India. There's so much love in. India. There is so much love in India. They love everything. They love humans, they love animals, they love and respect every single thing. So that's what I learned, and Canada just freedom. Canada taught me that you don't agree with someone, you're not disrespecting that person.

Asifa:

Because, that's human, I mean, it's not a disrespect People's perception that someone is disrespecting someone. But it's not disrespect. You don't agree with someone, you're not disrespecting that person. So Canada gave me freedom Before I was, like you know, afraid, afraid to talk to people. If someone knows better than me, I shouldn't be arguing with that person.

Asifa:

I shouldn't be, disagreeing with that person, even if I disagree with that person. But in Canada you're free to disagree. Tell them the person. I don't agree with your point, but I respect your opinion. I don't agree with it. You are free to choose what you want to do. You are free to choose what you want to study. You know families give a lot of freedom to their children when they are over 18. They can choose whatever they want. Their family don't tell them They get them freedom to choose what they want. They don't tell them Absolutely. So freedom from Canada.

Gurasis:

So who's your go-to person when you feel stuck?

Asifa:

When I feel stuck, I listen to my intuition.

Gurasis:

Okay.

Asifa:

That was my go-to person. First I just sit, i meditate, then I just talk with my soul. This is my problem. This is my problem Because when you have a problem, when you talk to people about it, people most of the time, 99% of the time people have their own interests. When they're helping you, they will not help you just because they want to help you. They have some kind of interest and they will advise you accordingly. So when I have problem, i don't go to people. I sit with myself, i meditate, i think about it and then I give a time. I give the time a couple of days and then I hear answers from one place or another. I hear it.

Gurasis:

And you said that you have watched a lot of Bollywood movies, so can you name a few that you really love?

Asifa:

Yeah, it will be Tal Tal Okay.

Asifa:

Ashwara.

Asifa:

Rae, yeah, i love that movie, so much I watched it in a theater in India, New Delhi. That was an amazing experience. I liked so many, a lot of Indian movies, but that's the only one that I liked so much.

Gurasis:

So how would you describe Canada in one word or a sentence?

Asifa:

Canada is my second and permanent home and I have a high-effect and deep love for Canada, even if Afghanistan gets better than Canada today.

Gurasis:

I would still love Canada. And finally, if you could leave me with one piece of advice, Asifa, what would it be?

Asifa:

Keep learning, keep learning. We are students of life. So what you're doing right now is you're learning from people's life. So just don't give this up. Just keep doing it, because you don't learn when you're just sitting in home and you're just surrounded by your family. I wish I had time to do this. I love it so much because every week I learn to some kind of podcast every week, especially about health. I learn about people, because every person is a teacher, whatever they have experienced in their life.

Asifa:

you have it, And how many lives would you live to have all the experience people have in their life?

Gurasis:

Absolutely.

Asifa:

No way. When you have a podcast, you learn about people's experience. You don't have to live 100 lives. You just meet 100 people and then learn from them Learn from their experiences, learn from their failures, learn from their knowledge. This is a great thing that you're doing And my advice you would be keep it up.

Gurasis:

I love the way you put the whole thing together. I love that. On that note, Asifa, thank you so much for being on the podcast and adding value to me and to my listeners. Thank you.

Asifa:

Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. I had a good time with you.

Gurasis:

Hey listener, Thank you for making it to the end. I highly highly appreciate you listening to the podcast. Subscribe to the podcast if you haven't as yet, And please share with your friends or anybody you think would like it. And like I always say, we encourage you to follow your heart, but also ask. on Instagram, the handle is mythicaccent. You can also leave us a review or write to us at hello at mythicaccentcom. So stay tuned and let's continue knowing each other beneath the accent.

Resilience and Cultural Diversity
Immigration, Visas, and Language Exposure
Cultural Differences and Language Learning
From Law to Holistic Health Coaching
Living With Family vs Living on Campus
Expressing Gratitude and Encouraging Engagement