With the last few days of Ramadan in full swing, it seems appropriate to reflect on this month’s experience. This year, in particular, was a different than the usual. I have been taking summer courses for the past few months and for the first time I have been away from my family during the month of fasting. I will not lie and say I have not missed all the festivities at home, but it is true that spending this month alone on campus has been a memorable one.
For those of you who don’t know, this past month Muslims have been fasting from dawn to dusk. Waking up in the middle of the night without my mom’s constant reminders have truly been a struggle for me. Basically, I had a hard time feeling the Ramadan atmosphere this year being away from family, and missed out on the month long activities in the community.
These past few weeks I have been attended community Iftars (breaking the fast) hosted by the Muslim Students Association and have found them to be a great way to feel a sense of community here on campus. Not only did I enjoy attended these events, but I brought my non-muslim friends with me as well who thoroughly appreciated learning about Ramadan and the traditions surrounding it. We would all break the fast together, pray and then mingle and chat as we devoured delicious food. At these Iftars I found not only fellow Muslim students, but also students and community members there to understand and experience Ramadan traditions. Other Ramadan events to look out for campus include charity dinners, information events, as well as upcoming events in preparation for Eid!
Besides the weekly Iftars, I also formed a special bond with my friends who were also away from home this past month. We have been taking turns to host dinners, cooking together, and just sharing the experience of fasting whilst getting through a long day of summer classes.
I encourage students to not shy away from living away from home in fear of homesickness. You will find so many students facing the same problem as you. There will be ways to connect with people similar to you. For me it was interacting with fellow Muslim students, but there are hundreds of clubs and organizations at University of Toronto that you could explore and form connections with. In particular, if you are in search of religious groups or space, the Multi-Faith Centre is a great place to start.
The resources and the student groups at the University of Toronto have really helped me as well as many other students feel the Ramadan vibes on campus. This applies to all students though—regardless of culture or religion. U of T supports so many student groups that celebrate different religions, cultures, and interests. No matter where you come from or what your idea of home is, I really do believe that you will be able to recreate that feeling of home in some way or another at U of T.