From our own experience, we know moving away from home for the first time to an unfamiliar city can be intimidating, especially as a Muslim student, so we’ve put together some of our top tips and advice to help you overcome any challenges and ease this transition!
It’s Okay to Feel Homesick
We understand moving to a new city can leave you feeling lonely at times but you’ll quickly find your place in Manchester and build a support network to help you get through it. The University of Manchester is the largest single-site university in the UK with students from a diverse range of backgrounds so have no doubt that you will eventually find your people! We recommend keeping yourself as busy as you can outside and around others in the first few weeks to minimise the amount of time you spend alone in your room. Freshers makes this super easy because there’s plenty of events being hosted daily! And as a last port of call when bored or not sure where to find people, definitely head over to McDougall’s prayer hall and you’ll meet plenty of welcoming muslims to chill and spend time or even go out with. Decorate and personalise your room by adding fairy/led lights, plants, posters and a throw for a homely touch so that any time you do spend there is a lot more comfortable. Especially with the covid situation, you might be spending more time in your room than you’d like. Make sure to call home frequently and make an effort to visit regularly on weekends to ease homesickness too.
Check Up On Your Family
Expanding on the last point, we just want to reiterate the importance of checking up on your family to not only ease homesickness but to fulfil the obligation Allah has enjoined upon you. Silat ur-Rahm (maintaining family ties) is compulsory in Islam, particularly to your parents whose favours to you are innumerable. You may not live in the same city anymore but you should still uphold your duty to maintain contact with them by calling regularly and showing compassion.
“And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, "My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small."[17:24]
We highly recommend joining a couple of societies during freshers as this is perhaps one of the easiest ways to make friends and meet like minded people at university. From faith societies like ISoc to cultural, sports, recreation and volunteering societies there’s something for everyone. Joining these societies will allow you to pursue hobbies outside of your course, and maybe even push you out of your comfort zone at times. ISoc offers a vast array of socials and events from Friday linkups to weekly classes, sunrise snowdon hikes and weekend retreats so do get involved! You can also join societies related to your course, this will help you meet more people on your course and pursue a niche area of your degree which could come in handy after graduating.
Befriend Your Flatmates
You might not be sharing your room with them but more often than not, you’ll be bumping into them in your communal kitchen. It’s not realistic to expect everyone to be best buds with each other but being on friendly terms with your flatmates will make those daily kitchen encounters a lot less awkward and living in halls much more enjoyable!
Plan Your Meals Ahead
It’s time to put those blissful days of coming home to a freshly cooked dinner by your parents behind you. Unless you're someone who genuinely looks forward to cooking dinner after a long day at uni, meal planning is your best bet. Take some time out of your weekend to do some grocery shopping and schedule an hour or two each Sunday to batch cook meals for the next week. Youtube is the go-to place for simple, affordable and tasty meal plans geared towards students! Even if your cooking skills aren’t the finest, making a pasta mix takes little effort and it’s so easy to switch up the dishes with basics like cheese, tomato, sweetcorn, tuna or chicken. Whether you want to prep lunch or dinner for the week, grab yourself a few reusable, air-tight containers (to avoid saucy leakages in your bag) from Tesco or Poundland and put them in the fridge with your meals for the next few days. Lidl is best for cheap staples like pasta and rice but for spices and halal meat, Worldwide is the place to go.
Budgeting, Budgeting, Budgeting!
With the curry mile being within a walking distance, the temptation to go on a daily food crawl is real. However, this is not economical for the average student and expenses from eating out snowball rapidly. You don’t want to find yourself making that dreaded call to mama and baba in the middle of the semester to tell them you’ve run out of money, and speaking from experience, that hour-long lecture over the phone is not worth it! Give yourself a weekly budget and do not exceed it. Limit yourself to eating out at a restaurant once or twice a week. Hold yourself accountable by tracking your expenditure via a spreadsheet.
Find a Good Work-Life Balance
Your body has been entrusted to you by Allah (SWT) so it’s imperative you take care of it. Sleep early, wake up early and front load your work to maximise your productivity so you can have your evenings off to destress and focus on other things. Avoid leaving your assignments to the last minute, we’re warning you now that an all-nighter in Ali G (Alan Gilbert learning commons) is never worth it, so don’t put your mind and body through that!
Cherish Your Time at University
At university, you’re blessed with an unprecedented amount of free time, make use of this to better yourself beyond academia. Also pursue a hobby, take up a sport, learn a language, explore the city, and just say yes to different opportunities, new experiences and everything in between. And perhaps most importantly, seek knowledge about your deen and develop yourself spiritually. The Prophet ﷺ advised us to:
“Take benefit of five before five:
Your youth before your old age,
your health before your sickness,
your wealth before your poverty,
your free time before you are preoccupied,
and your life before your death”Narrated by Ibn Abbas and reported by Al Hakim
Your years at university will fly by, so make sure to completely immerse yourself and you’ll never regret looking back!