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Dreams of Algerian student in Ukraine

From a young age, we were used to hearing that in order to be heard or praised we need to study and have a university degree.

My parents weren’t so much different from what people say or think about this, so, going to school was a must. Anything about study or school my parents were there to provide, literally anything and everything.

Growing up, my father was always promising me to send me to a foreign country to pursue my Ph.D. He used to tell me that whenever I avoid troubles, he’ll keep his promise. Well, keeping that idea in my subconscious mind, I have survived and now, I’m here alone in Ukraine. 

I don’t know why Ukraine exactly, but here I am. I believe that everything happens for a reason, I suppose! As a Muslim girl, I grew up in Algeria, more precisely in Jijel. I was very impulsive and super active. I was the type that thinks with his mouth, always playing, screaming, yelling, fighting with kids. As a teenager, I was a rebel.

I hated my mother and her orders. I hated serious work and duties. But now, I’m 24 years old. I’m no more than a little girl that can do anything just to have a hug and a kiss from her mommy. 

I have studied English for a bachelor’s degree and then studied for two other years majoring in linguistics for a master’s degree. During these 5 years, I lived in the girls’ campus in Algiers, Algeria’s capital city. It was far from my hometown ‘ Jijel’ 450 kilometres that I used the plane as a means of transport most of the time. As I said earlier, I was behaving and tried to avoid any kind of problems so that my dad will keep his promise.

As I mentioned before, I came to Ukraine to study. I have arrived in December 2018. Life in Ukraine is very different from Algeria. Well firstly because it’s not a Muslim country and second, because of language, culture, and traditions. I won’t forget to mention cold weather too.

One of the most things that I truly miss is the voice of the Adhan. Here in Ukraine, you can hear The Adhan only in the mosque and unfortunately not all the mosques are able to be available 24/7.

Ukraine, in comparison to Algeria, is more greener: I mean nature, trees, and public parks. As a nature lover, I find myself staring and feeling amazed by nature, but when your eyes cross someone, you would be shocked!!! People here in do not smile at strangers. When walking outside, especially as a hijabi girl, all people stare at my headscarf and the way I wear clothes: long skirts and long sleeves all year!

Well I think stares are way better than bad words! In here, no one has ever said something weird or bad in the street. No one cares about you.

People in Ukraine are hard workers. They love parties and they know how to enjoy life with small things. I love their simplicity and their cold-blood attitude; in contrast, I hate that attitude when it comes to people who work in the shops and markets.

When I came to Ukraine, I started to teach English as a foreign language. I loved my students, and I think they did too, I suppose! Haha! They were so curious about my hijab and my religion. I tried to answer and simplify my answers, and more importantly, I tended to show them what Islam through my actions and not just brag about it.

Communication with my students was so easy, but outside, I would rather say it was a disaster.

Even using sign and body language, people didn’t understand. They didn’t care about strangers and they didn’t do any kind of effort to try to understand and help me. Ukraine is not an English speaking country. People do not want to meet you halfway if you do not understand from the first time; they give up on you and just walk away.  

As a Muslim girl, whenever I feel lonely I turn to Allah.

I’m not saying that I have a stronger faith, but sometimes it’s the only way that saves me from being depressed. I often go to the mosque in order to see similar faces to mine ‘ I mean hijabi sisters who wear the same way as I do, I don’t know why, but seeing them ‘ I mean sisters’ make me feel relieved and happy inside. Even if I don’t know them, I feel that magical connection. I remember my mother and my sisters whenever I see them, and I feel less homesick. The first time I met a Muslim sister in Aid al-fitr’s party, I directly burst into tears, maybe because it’s the first Islamic holiday that I pass all alone without my beloved family and friends. In Ukraine, finding Muslim sisters is so difficult.

In the mosque, even if I feel relieved and peaceful, sisters do not talk to each other. They talk only to their acquaintances. I would be lying if I say I don’t feel lonely whenever I see them in the mosque.

In Aid AL-Adha, I went to pray, when the prayer is finished, people should start to greet and smile even if they do not know each other “ because this is prayer of Aid”. I encouraged myself to stand up and greet the woman next to me because I was so shy when I gathered my spirit, words and wear my smile, the woman faced me with a cold smile. I was devastated, I said, happy Aid to her and went off. I planned to return to my room and just call my family to greet them, but suddenly in my way home, my beloved sister that I only know here in Odessa called me, she told me that she is going to celebrate Aid with her friend and I need to come too, and without thinking, I said yes. I have met the mother of my friend and her friend too. It was a different Aid than my previous Aids in my country, but I found it wonderful. Now that I have met two great sisters, it’s time to move to another city. I need to change Odessa and go to Kiev because my university is located there.

I think my plan from the beginning was to come here and study, and when I finish, I would come back to my hometown and work, but deep inside there is a voice that is whispering to me that Ukraine would be my second home. This voice is telling me that I have a lot of things to fulfill and finish.

To all sisters out there, we are created in this universe to find our “what’s” and “why’s” that is to say,

we need to ask ourselves constantly “why are we created? “Why I’m still alive and what I should do to help myself, my family and others?”

May Allah help us to find out our whats and whys in this world, and may the ALMIGHTY bless us all.

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