A 24 year old Brit in Iran

By November 2, 2019 Online Community

I’m a 24 year old British guy who first came to Iran in September 2014 to study for two years in MA Iranian Studies at the University of Tehran. My interest in Iran began a few years before that when I was studying the Middle East at Exeter, and I was smitten with the country’s art and literature and history from the get-go.
So when I encountered the opportunity to go and live in Iran, I didn’t hesitate to go because I wanted to experience the country and its people for myself. After all, there is only so much that can be learnt from reading about something! I admit that when I first arrived in Iran at IKA airport, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I felt like a fish out of water at first, unsure how I would find life there or what to do with myself. However as my classes started and I gradually came across more and more Iranian people, I started to become used to and to enjoy living there.
I’d say that one of the main feelings that I have felt since being in Iran is surprise; exemplified both by the sheer amount of staggeringly beautiful natural places throughout the country (To-Chal Mountain, Mellat Park, Bagh-e Eram, the mountains of Azerbaijan province etc) and the lack of prejudice about being British or American expressed by ordinary Iranian people. My British-ness seems to function as a source of friendly humour and irony in my interactions with both my Iranian friends and non-Iranian classmates.
Another emotion that I have felt a lot whilst being in Iran is happiness and a sense of belonging. Not that I don’t feel that back in the UK, but it is much more noticeable for me in Iran because of the immense hospitality and friendliness of the people I have met. From sparing no qualms in helping me to practice Farsi and being a stream of unrelenting encouragement to go to and experience new areas and places inside and outside of Tehran, to being so quick to accommodate me and other non-Iranians into their daily lives and to invite us to social meetings and/or into their family homes, all of my Iranian friends have made me feel at home in Iran one way or another – whether devoutly religious, non-religious, or anywhere in-between!
There have also been many adventures I have had already during my first year in Iran. There was that exhausting but great day back in the winter where me and a few Iranian friends trekked up Tol-Chal in the early morning and came back down in the evening. There was my stay in the peaceful and calm little-known village of Songhar near Kermanshah where I experienced the spirit and atmosphere of the Ashura festivities first-hand. Then the experiencing of the customs and quirks of Noorooz during the spring-time (the best time of year to be in Iran!), during which a dear Iranian friend took me to the indomitable Tabriz to visit and stay with his family for a few days.The last large Iranian adventure of the year was our week-long class trip to Shiraz and Kish before the exams, which convinced me that we didn’t spend enough time in Shiraz (which is an awesome place, everyone must go and visit Shiraz!) and that Kish is possibly the least Iranian seeming place in Iran (but quite fun for a couple of days).
All in all, I am excited to come back to Iran to do the rest of my course this year and to get to know more of the country and its people. I heavily recommend with all my heart that everyone should come and visit Iran, even if only for a short time. It will challenge your perceptions and make you have fun while doing so!  
If you have any questions at all about Iran or any aspect of living in Iran, please do comment below or message me directly!