I am Saemah Shamim from Nepal, an MA Student at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Universitas Islam Internasional Indonesia. This has been my first experience being away from home and family.

The experience has been amazing. Spending Ramadan and feeling its festive mood was completely new to me in Indonesia. I am grateful to Allah and thankful to the university for the admission opportunity to achieve education and the knowledge that is the most valuable bounty of Allah in this university with such a friendly cozy environment. I am happy with my choice and being chosen as a family of UIII.

Ramadan, the month of fasting is a great month for Muslims all around the world. Indonesia, being the largest Muslim population country, gives me an opportunity to see a totally different scenario. The streets that are full of Iftar items after Ashar prayer, the traffic, and people’s hustle and bustle to return to their homes for Iftar family gatherings was very new to me.

Back in Nepal, a nation with a minority of Muslims, doesn’t really possess such excitement before or during Ramadan. Observing fast during this month is very strange for other Nepalese citizens. So, actually, this festive atmosphere is only felt inside our homes. Our Iftar is not so different than what I found here in Indonesia. However, beaten rice and roasted chickpeas is a must.

The university provided us with Iftar for the whole month. This gathering with friends and our coordinators and staffs at the University Masjid, Rahmatan Lil ‘Alamin, eliminated the feeling of loneliness that we, as international students may have felt during this month. The staff and janitors have been very kind, ready to help us with a beam of happiness. May they get rewards for helping us every day without any burdensome feeling. This was wholesome, I couldn’t ask for more!

Ramadan for me has always been a time of self-reflection and being thankful for what I have in my life. To accomplish this too, the university came up with open masjid for all its student to stay for Itikaf, facilitating them with all basic requirements. This made me believe, that UIII holds features that are unique and prioritize the happiness of its students and their needs and try to embrace them with love and care.

Back in Nepal, again, I always complained for not getting enough time to do worshipping activities, as this month is not officially recognized, so the duty hours or school hours is the same. No leisure time. My days used to be hectic and very busy. There is no Masjid nearby either. It was almost half an hour away from home. My happiness knew no boundary when I found that we have our university masjid and also I had a lot of time for doing Ibadah.

While I am writing this, the holy month is at the verge of ending. I am satisfied with all that I got here. I am curious to see how Eid is celebrated here. As in my country, we don’t usually get Eid holidays, Some Eid days were spent with ongoing exams. Fortunately, if the weekend and Eid day collides then it used to be a free day for me. My father and brothers would go to Masjid for Eid prayer as me, my mother, and sister, would prepare a special dish that is “Biryani” and “Sewai”.

By the time the men of our house returned, we used to be ready with new pretty clothes waiting at the door to welcome them. They would return back with a lot of sweets and balloons. We then would embrace each other wishing “Eid Mubarak”.

Not only this, after having a hearty meal altogether, me and our siblings’ favorite work is to get “Eidi” from Mom and Dad. Basically, Eidi is some amount of cash that our parents give us for enjoying the day buying some snacks, and having a sibling’s time together. That used to be fun to bargain with Father to make him give us more cash. However, Dads are smarter to play it safe and end up giving us suitable amount of cash!

I am going to miss such little happy moments with my family. Yet I believe our university for sure would make us feel at home with its amazing plans and arrangements.

I pray to Allah that we make a good history for this university, and may this university will reach the peak of its success, and become a center for millions of students around the world to get an opportunity for visiting and gaining knowledge on this land, and experiencing this welcoming, cheerful vibes this university provides.

By Saemah Shamim, MA Student at the Faculty of Social Sciences, IIIU from Nepal