On my flight to Fargo last week, I was anxious about the new people, work and life. But a friendly woman with amazing stories about her family, grandchildren and love for hiking gave me a very welcoming attitude of the city.

After arriving in Fargo, I was greeted by a friendly fellow reporter, Tu-Uyen Tran, from The Forum.

These two connections even before seeing the city made it clear that I am in for a treat in Fargo, North Dakota.

I am a journalist from Islamabad, Pakistan – far away from Fargo – and I will be working at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead for three weeks.

The city I come from has a population of about 2 million and is among the most urban and modern cities of Pakistan. So, Fargo, with around 115,863 inhabitants, is something very different.

Before coming to Fargo, the two things mentioned most about the city were: too small and too cold. I don’t agree. Yes, I am fortunate to be here on a lovely time of the year when there is plenty of sunshine, a lot of greenery and long days.


This city is not small and all farms. Fargo is full of incredible artists, journalists, researchers, entrepreneurs and other professionals.

I am staying in downtown Fargo, which has lively surroundings, nice shopping and entertainment areas and some of Fargo’s historic businesses. People here are generally friendly, greet you with smiles and are happy to tell you all about the places to visit in the city.

One similarity between Fargo and Islamabad is that there are many beautiful parks and natural landscapes in both cities.

vinyl-tacosOn my first day at work at The Forum, Deputy Editor Heidi Shaffer greeted me with a big smile and was keen to tell me about the processes at the office as much as she could. At the office, I met people working in different departments, from reporters to editors to illustrators to TV/radio people, to people whose job description is to manage everything.

One of the more memorable things about my first day at work was having my first taco at Vinyl Taco.

But the part that hooked me was the office lounge where you can rest, watch TV or have popcorn. But best of all is the game room with bright, colorful decor. This was a big contrast from Pakistani newsrooms where the offices are quite dull, with nothing but newspapers lying all around and there are no places to relax, eat or play games.

The Forum largely focuses on local news as opposed to newspapers in Pakistan, which concentrate on national news. I feel the local papers in United States are a huge part of communities and local people relate to them like family. Obituaries are an important part of the newspapers here, which is interesting and new for me.

Overall, my first week was splendid, and I look forward to amazing stories and days in Fargo.