This past summer has been a whirlwind of many months of planning finally coming together. I took on the challenge of taking a very difficult course, Organic Chemistry, in only 6 weeks at North Carolina State University. I wanted to take advantage of the long break, so I had to quickly figure out how to manage my time wisely during this summer of seemingly endless studying.
In addition to taking this super-challenging course every day, I was also observing the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. During Ramadan, Muslims refrain from food and drink (water too) from dawn to dusk. Muslims may also attend nightly prayers, Taraweeh, during Ramadan in addition to the required five daily prayers. The magic of this holy month was not lost on me, despite what I had going on in my everyday life. Fasting during Ramadan is an act of worship, but Ramadan is more than abstaining from food and drink. Ramadan is chance for people to strengthen their faith, develop their character, and become more compassionate to the less fortunate. Being hungry for only a couple hours during the month of Ramadan is only a small glimpse in the lives of those who have to nothing to eat every day. It is a constant reminder of how lucky and privileged we are. The month of Ramadan is commenced by the joyful celebration of Eid ul-Fitr.
During the first six weeks of my summer break, I spent five days a week in a lecture hall and a couple hours in lab on Wednesdays. After class, I would take a bus to NCSU’s beautiful James B. Hunt Library, where I would study for hours until what I learned in class was ingrained into my mind. I would sit in the same place where I often studied when I was still in high school. I would leave Hunt Library just in time to help my mother prepare Iftar, the meal that Muslims eat to end their fast after sunset during Ramadan. On the off chance that I was not studying after Iftar, I would attend Taraweeh at my local mosque. My friends and I would sometimes stay overnight on weekends and eat Suhur at the nearest Cookout together. Suhur is the meal before starting the fast which takes place before sunrise and the morning prayer.
In addition to spending most my Ramadan holed up in Hunt Library, I was also volunteering at Rex Hospital in Raleigh. Volunteering there seemed like a full circle moment because I was also born there 19 years ago. I volunteered in the outpatient post surgery recovery ward, PACU West. I assisted the nurse assistants with whatever they needed me to do from wheeling out patients and cleaning and preparing rooms, to bringing food and drink to patients. It was a great learning experience. I learned a lot about interactions between medical personnel and patients, and have grown to appreciate nurses and CNAs for all the work they do. I learned about post surgery patient care as well. I first decided to volunteer at Rex because I wanted to experience hospital dynamics outside of being just a patient or a visitor. I found myself going home and researching the surgeries of the patients I have met to further understand and appreciate the process. I had the privilege to interact with amazing patients, nurses, nurse assistants, and doctors. I forever grateful for the opportunity explore my passion and for the support I have received to further pursue my passions and a career in medicine.
This summer was full of learning experiences that I have pursued on my own. I started using Duolingo to practice my Spanish skills (I’m also done with their Spanish program yay) and started to learn Italian. I started experimenting with film photography, a new hobby I have almost entirely learned from the Internet. My sister graduated high school, and one of my best friends graduated from her early college program. This Ramadan was also the first time my whole family and I were all under the same roof in almost two years, and it felt good to come together after such a long time apart. Having this down time at home with my family has left me refreshed and excited to start the school year. This summer has also given me the opportunity to sit down and explore my passions. I am eager to get back into rhythm of school (something I never thought I’d say). I have a full course load this semester, 19 hours (what was I thinking), and after this summer, I feel ready to come back to school energized to continue doing well.
Written by: Fahiima Mohamed