As an International Studies major, I am required to study abroad for one semester. As a commuter student, I have never lived out of the house—and moving abroad scared me. I was worried about how I was going to live in a foreign country. As a Muslim, I only eat halal meat and pray 5 times a day, which means I had to know how I was going to accommodate those practices.
At Arcadia, I know where I am able to pray. I didn’t have to worry about later in the day because I was in the comfort of my home. But when I decided I wanted to study abroad in London, I worried: How was I going to pray with a roommate in my room? Where would I find halal meat?
As I was in the process of applying for the internship program, I spoke to Kelly Sheaffer, one of the England and Wales program managers, who reassured me that the staff at Arcadia’s London Center would help me and provide resources.
The staff here did exactly as Kelly said. I requested my own room, and that was granted. As I got to London, I saw a major demographic shift. There were people of all races and backgrounds everywhere. I fit right in. Coming from Doylestown—a very white-populated, conservative town—I have always been the one to stand out. But here in London, no one cares to take a double take.
Not only did I feel that I finally fit in my environment, I was able to see people like me everywhere. There is a huge Muslim population here, along with a South Asian population. I no longer find myself explaining my identity. When I had my interview for my internship in Parliament, my soon-to-be bosses brought up the idea of praying at the local mosque near the constituency office and in the prayer room in the House of Commons. I was shocked at my employers familiarity with my practices.
The mosque I go to twice a day. My boss gives me time to pray, which I sincerely appreciate.
The Brent Central mosque reminds me a lot of the mosque back home. What’s more, there are places of worship for all faiths in close vicinity. The Brick Lane mosque is only a 20-minute walk from me and is on one of the most well-known streets in London.
I have also been in awe about the access to halal meat. My local grocery store, Sainsbury’s, has a halal section. It’s a convenient 15-minute walk up to Islington.
When I look back at my concern about living abroad and finding support for my customs and faith, I could not have imagined that I would pick the perfect place for me. My experience in London and with the Arcadia staff has made me feel more intact with myself than ever.
No need to worry at all.