by SALMA SHICKH
Four years of high school have led to this point. Four years of sweat, suffering and sleepless nights come here together in a pivotal moment in my life: my first lecture at my first day at the University of Toronto. Well, actually, it started the week before, at a popular little gathering known as “Frosh Orientation”. I spent the better chunk of summer contemplating whether or not I should drag myself through a week of crazy events when I could just take another week of sleeping in and relaxing restfully at home. I had heard too many blood curling stories of caffeine pills and sleep walking to consider the second option seriously. After a careful assessment, I decided to go in hopes of meeting fellow first-years and making study buddies for the year. In the end, besides the fact that I was burnt out and overwhelmed with exhaustion, Frosh Week wasn’t so bad. Now the real fun and excitement was about to begin.
To be quite honest, the first week was a little boring—actually extremely boring. In every class, we were supplied with a course syllabus and told of test dates and other such information. On the second day of classes, I headed to the Registrar’s office to complete important business. I found my way to University College and pried open the front door (that I am sure weighs at least a ton). As I made my way through the creaking hallway, I was baffled at the sight of an endless line of people who did not seem quite depressed. I ignored this peculiar sight and walked on towards my destination. I soon realized to my horror that these people were in the line for the Registrar’s Office. How could I have not known this considering that it was only the second day of classes?
Of course there would be a line of people for OSAP and other admission issues. I seriously considered going home. Why waste a perfectly sunny day inside Univesity College (UC) waiting in a line for a signature I could get next week? But I had no choice! Ramadan was in two days, and there was no way I was going spend my Ramadan day like a zombie in a line up! Eagerly, I went and took my place in the line. Nearly an hour later, I was ecstatic to discover that there were just 4 to 5 people in front of me. I had been embarrassingly daydreaming and so did not take notice of a woman march out of the office talking loudly to the line up. Suddenly the crowd dispersed and the line shrunk to less than a dozen people. Apparently the office was closing for lunch! Just my luck.
The start of the third week of school also meant my first biology lab. I have never been a fan of labs but biology ones were sometimes quite interesting. It went extraordinarily well despite the fact that we were examining insects—I am not exactly fond of critters or basically anything that is small and crawls.
It went so smoothly that we finished early. “Nothing better than finishing a class early to go home,” I thought, walking happily to the subway station. Unfortunately, my happiness was short lived. Strolling into Union Station, I was welcomed by a mob of people with confused expressions on their faces. My beaming smile quickly became a scowl as I was informed that the train I was taking was suspended until further notice. PERFECT! I got out of the biology lab for this? It was Ramadan, and I always liked to be home by Asr (evening), if not at least Maghrib (sunset). Guess not today.
That Friday, I decided to attend the Jum’aa (congregational) prayers since I had a two hour gap before my next class. With my amazing sense of directionI was able to locate the hall where the prayer was held without much difficulty. I had to go the bathroom to make wudhu (ablution) and so I searched the floor for one. I found one but there was a great dilemma. You see, I missed the first prayer and planned to make the 2:30 prayer, so the people who had finished the first prayer were just coming out. A crowd of men stood outside the hall chattering away about life, the weather, Ramadan, and other important matters I’m sure. The problem I had with this situation was that the women’s washroom was completely blocked by this crowd. I attempted to make my way through but these men seemed heavily immersed in their conversations. I don’t think they would have even noticed had the wall in front of them collapsed.
I don’t know what it is with us Muslims, especially Arabs, but after any event we can never say goodbye! I am pretty sure it is a psychological problem that should be heavily researched. You know when you have guests over and the conversations you have on the way to the door are much longer than the ones you had in the living room? If that’s not bad enough, you get to the door and start a new conversation! Why? It’s just one those mysteries of life! Anyway, Masha’Allah, the khutba (sermon) was very well done and I was pleased overall. An incredible end to an incredible week!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
SALMA SHICKH IS AN UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT IN LIFE SCIENCES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO (ST. GEORGE CAMPUS).