Traditions away from home


April 23, 2023

It took me a while to feel at home at college. I struggled a lot feeling homesick and learning how to take care of all parts of myself in my first year away from home, but this year has really felt like DC has become my second (or third?) home. In this past year, I’ve felt like I’ve not only learned to live “academically” at Georgetown but have also done those things that have made Georgetown feel home-ly like cooking meals, having a chill night in, and being a little more spontaneous. I guess what I’m trying to say is that in my first year, I didn’t live at Georgetown like I was at home – I mostly spent time on academic-related things and didn’t take time to do the not so glamorous activities that I sometimes need to do for myself, like just having a night in.

One of those things that have come along with making Georgetown more of my home and not just somewhere where I’m living temporarily has been learning to deal with big moments on my own – whether those are happy or sad moments. This past month was the month of Ramadan, and for Muslims like myself we spend the month fasting from sunrise to sunset everyday. Even though the fasting can be tough, it’s meant to be a month filled with community, giving back, and feeling closer to our religion. Obviously going to college can change this slightly because I don’t have family around and my routines are slightly different. Instead of breaking the fast with family every night sometimes I break it with friends or honestly sometimes I’d just be so exhausted that I’d break it on my own watching Netflix on my laptop.

I did Ramadan out here at college last year, but this year felt a little different. This year I felt very torn between trying to make the month special for myself out here but also keeping up with all the other commitments I have out here. I felt like I was constantly asking for accommodations, leaving things early so I could go break my fast, or explaining why I couldn’t take part in certain activities. Sometimes constantly explaining yourself can get exhausting and this was one of those moments where I felt like adulting and building my life out here got a little overwhelming. Especially when it got around to celebrating Eid al Fitr, which is the big day that marks the end of the month of fasting and has always been one of my favorite days of the year, doing that on my own felt a kind of rough. I feel as though I’m at this point in my life where I’m trying to forge my own path and I can be an independent adult most of the time, but it’s hard to do those big moments and traditions on your own.

I feel as though I’m growing and building my own routines and can, for the most part, celebrate the good moments and deal with the sad on my own. But celebrating Eid this past weekend alone was a reminder that I’m still growing and being that family member alone on the other side of the world can sometimes be pretty isolating – especially when you’re in a place where you’re constantly explaining what it is that you’re celebrating and doing.

But this post is not just a negative word dump of emotions! There are moments where I can see that I’m building my own traditions slowly but surely out here. For example, at Georgetown we have something called the fast-a-thon where all of our non-Muslim friends are invited to fast for the day and break the fast with us and experience our rituals. I have friends who took part in it this year, and aside from it being super meaningful that they made the effort to fast, it was also nice to share some of my culture with them. For the past two years now, I’ve also gone to a college friend’s family iftar potluck (the meal that you break the fast with is called iftar) and shared their traditions. I know that all of these moments seem small right now, but they’ll become part of the traditions that I’m building out here for myself.

Ramadan is meant to be a month of reflection and spirituality, and this month I definitely did that. I reflected on my life a lot and can recognize the growth that I’ve had since I’ve moved out here. From the feelings this past month about being torn and celebrating on my own, I also realize that there’s still a lot more growth for me to achieve and a lot of my own life out here to still build.

So I guess what I’m trying to say here is that the path to building out your own life is definitely not easy, but it’s important to step back once in a while from the moments of feeling like you’re missing out and realize that you’re actually building your own new traditions out here.

See you next week,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *