In between all the fun (and lectures), university brings many new and unfamiliar experiences, dilemmas and obstacles and it can be very difficult to know how to avoid these and what to do when you find yourself in a tricky situation.
Here are ten handy tips that if you follow, should make your transition just that little bit easier:
1) Come out of the closet
Explain from day one to your new flatmates, coursemates and friends that you don’t drink, don’t go to clubs and pubs and explain why. You’ll be surprised at how accepting people are of those with strong morals and it avoids the awkwardness of having to make lousy excuses to skive events and nights out.
2) Choose your friends wisely
A man/woman is made by the company he/she keeps. You get easily influenced by those constantly around you so make sure this is in a good way. And you will definitely need a group of good friends who want to socialise in the same way you do, so you don’t feel like you’re missing out and feel tempted to join in with things you don’t feel comfortable doing (This could mean having a group of Muslim friends). Try and employ this when choosing who you’re going to live with. You can always socialise with other people outside the house but if you know that you will be comfortable at home to pray and practice Islam and don’t feel tempted to drink and go out then it makes everything much easier for yourself.
This may sound contradictory but don’t concentrate just on making Muslim friends and forget to integrate with the rest of the community. Uni is a crucial time to develop your social and interpersonal skills, open up your mind and learn about other viewpoints, religions and ways of life. Make your decision to follow Islam an informed one. You may well find it actually strengthens your faith. Get involved with all the cool societies and opportunities that university offers!
4) One thing leads to another.
Don’t fall into the trap of setting yourself up right at the top of that very long, steep slippery slope. A rule of thumb is often, if you don’t feel comfortable saying ‘Bismillah’ before doing something, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.
5) Allah is Al-Baseer
If you’ve moved away from home, then you may have eliminated that risk of bumping into your uncle’s-wife’s-colleague’s-sister’s-son who will then inform the entire ummah of what they saw you doing – but don’t forget, whether you move to Leeds or Las Vegas, Allah still sees you.
6) Work hard, play hard, PRAY harder
You will inevitably face spiritual obstacles and dilemmas at some point during uni life but by keeping your faith in Allah, you’ll find it easier to cope. We also have Farhat, our Muslim Chaplain who is there to support you in anything and everything. She’s usually at the Emmanuel Centre near Parkinsons, and you can just drop in.
Sure, that’s why you’ve come to university, but you should also be investing time into learning about Islam. It doesn’t matter how ‘religious’ you are or perceive yourself to be, you should make sure you research Islam well and learn as much as you can. This puts you in a better position to judge how to live your life, to confirm your faith in Islam and to persuade you to be a better Muslim in your own heart. And you will probably never be in another situation again where you have the time, energy, and excellent resources and facilities to do this. So make the most of all the opportunities and resources you have access to during your short time at uni to understand your faith!
8) Get Involved
Students are often at the forefront of politics, charity, volunteering and change. Be one of those students who actually makes a difference. Find something you’re passionate about and take the initiative. You’ll find it helps you fill your spare time with worthwhile activities, improve your organisation skills and work-life balance as well as doing something beneficial for the sake of Allah.
9) Absence makes the heart grow more forgetful
Whatever you do, don’t use university as an opportunity to escape your family and neglect them. They have been supporting you your entire life and know you better than anybody else. You may be exploring newly found independence but that does not mean you shouldn’t use their support. Phone them regularly and keep them involved in your daily life and don’t be afraid to ask them for help.
10) Use but don’t abuse
The ISoc are not just there for the goodie bag when you buy membership. Come to our events, use our facilities and come to us when you have a problem. The Islamic Society is run by an elected student committee, who often have their own sub-committees. Get in contact with us if you want to volunteer or learn more, and who knows, maybe next year it’ll be you in the committee!