Ramadan Survival Guide for Students Studying Abroad
One of the hardest things about studying overseas is being alone and far away from family and close friends, but for Muslim students, this especially hard during the month of Ramadan.
The fasting month leading up to 'Hari Raya', or Eid, is usually a time when families come together to break their fast, or 'iftar' at sunset, followed by mass prayer 'tarawih' at the mosque. Then of course, there is the much anticipated trip to the ‘pasar malam’ (night market) to buy new clothes and decorations for Hari Raya.
In Singapore, the whole of Geylang Serai (a Malay district) would come alive with joyous celebration and excitement especially for this holy month. The atmosphere is lively, fairy lights would be sparkling and there is a vast array of delicious local food to sample. It is something that one would surely miss whilst living abroad.
Geylang Serai Bazaar
However, a Muslim student who is far away from home should try to make the most of his or her situation. Here are some tips on how one could survive living abroad during the fasting month:
1) There are plenty of Muslim organizations or mosques that organize suhoor and iftar gatherings. Although you might not know anyone yet, this is a good opportunity to introduce yourself, make new friends and become a part of the local community.
2) Buddy up! Find someone in college who is also fasting and organize suhoor and iftar meetings. You could even plan a delicious month-long menu and try cooking your favourite food from home. Your mothers would surely be more than happy to share family-favourite recipes with you, or check online if you are ambitious. If all else fails, there are plenty of ready-made sauces available from Asian supermarkets that only require you to add fresh meat or vegetables to produce a tasty meal.
3) Take the time to appreciate your local culture and traditions. Although we live in a modern and westernized society, a dose of local culture could sometimes seem like a breath of fresh air. Download your favourite Hari Raya songs, watch Suria channel online and get your hands on some old P Ramlee movie DVDs and enjoy watching them during your time off.
4) Talk to your non-Muslim friends and share your experiences. This is a good chance to learn about each other’s cultures and religions, and foster closer ties and better understanding amongst one another.
5) Be healthy. Take this time to evaluate your diet and stock up on healthy food. Do not binge during suhoor and iftar, as this could cause more harm than good to your bodies. Ensure to drink lots of water and have food items from all the major food groups (carbohydrates, proteins, dairy and fibre). Take note that eating food that are high in fibre or complex carbohydrates would help to sustain your energy better, as this is released slowly through out the day. Buy some dates from the supermarket and have some to complement your meals during suhoor and iftar. They will give you a burst of energy.
Hotcourses.com.sg would like to wish all Muslim students good luck and have a blessed Ramadan!
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A Singaporean globe-trotter who is now based in London. Khai has travelled and lived in several countries due to her airline background. She enjoys dancing, painting, cooking, taking scenic photographs and writing about her adventure travels.