Between attending classes and work and studying and an internship, finding the time to make food for iftar can be very difficult for Noor Teebi, a third year at UCLA who is spending her first Ramadan on her own.
Being away from home for the first time, many other Muslim students face the same unexpected challenges of having to wake up for suhoor on their own without a parent to drag them out of bed or making it through an exhausting day on campus only to come home to no food to break their fast with.
Yet for Teebi, the hardest part is being away from family.
“It’s difficult to be away from your family, especially during Ramadan. It’s a time where everyone always eats together and everyone gets ready together and goes to the mosque. It’s the small stuff.” Teebi said.
And the food situation?
“Food, that’s a big thing,” she says with a laugh, “usually in Ramadan there will be something prepared for you. Sure you might help out in the preparation but it’s not completely on you. Over here when I’m on campus, sometimes I come home and it’s already 8:30- past iftar- and I don’t have anything prepared and I’m just really tired after a long day.”
So what does she do to feed herself?
“I think if I’m making something for myself, it would probably just be a sandwich. I mean I made one really gross sandwich, something I just threw together, and I tried to make it more ‘meal-ish’ but it was a fail.”
For many Muslim students at UCLA, the Muslim Students Association (MSA) helps to fill the void of being on your own during Ramadan to a certain extent.
“The MSA is a really good support system, like with the communal iftars and people going to prayer together, so I think that’s cool. I think that helps distract you from your loneliness I guess.” It also helps to feed college students who have not been in the practice of cooking.
Despite the challenges of being on her own this time of year, Teebi is finding a way to make it through.
“…It’s manageable,” she says, taking it all in stride.