What I Learned in Boating School is… Failure is Okay.

For many of you, college is the highlight of your lives. It may be better than high school, and you know, you probably discovered yourself here. Or are on the path of discovering yourself here. (I’m the latter).

As I look back at my college career, I’m proud of myself. I had no qualms that I would graduate when I first started, but things got a little hairy as I went further in. No worries, though! If there’s one thing college has taught me, it’s that if you persevere and sometimes, hang on for dear life, you’ll make it through.

Honestly, I didn’t realize that sometimes all you have to really do is just hold on, y’know, like that new Louis Tomlinson and Steve Aoki song. Anyway.

Finals are coming up, and a lot of you may be worried about where you stand. I’m telling you, really telling you, to stop worrying. I know this is easier said than done, but in the bigger scheme of things, these exams are a blip in your life. Your GPA is a blip in your life. This time is a literal blip in your life!

If you find yourself worrying, do this: take a deep breath, and think about the length your life will be, based on probability and averages. Think about what happens if you pass, and what happens if you fail. The most realistic effect: your GPA falls a little, your parents are upset, etc. etc.

Okay, fine, but you’re not dead, right? You still have the brains to solve any problem that comes at you in the future? Yes, it makes life a little harder if you don’t do as well. But I’m also trying to say that the future isn’t impossible if you fail. Everything has a solution. And failing is sometimes okay.

Failure puts things into perspective. We feel that we can’t fail, as if we won’t be able to handle it. But we are a lot more resilient than that. I think we’ve forgotten that.

So I just wanted to remind you all that failing is okay sometimes. It means you tried something, and it didn’t work. It might give you insight as to how you function as a person. It certainly gave me that insight. I realized I had to be myself and stop doing things the way everyone else did them.

So yeah, I love college (this is a very recent understanding, trust me) because I failed a lot. A LOT. And at first, I was ashamed of how much I’ve failed. But I’m not worried anymore. Those failures were just a blip in my career; they’re so small, just like the amount of time that I’ve spent at Rutgers.

So it’s okay to fail if you do.

But.

I’m not giving you the go-ahead to party instead of studying for your finals.

If you have the ability to change your circumstances, like studying as hard as you can just to pass a class, then do it. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but if you can do it, then do it.

Failure shouldn’t be used as an excuse; it’s another tool in your arsenal. And college should help you build an arsenal of strategies to overcome problems with brilliant solutions. It did this for me.

College was wild. I hope it’s wild for all of you too.

And here is where I leave you all.

It was a pleasure writing for you and giving you all advice. I hope it’s helped the lot of you, even a little. As I graduate and just move to another pasture, I know I’ll be ruminating over the lessons I’ve learned here. And I hope I’ve made some lessons at Rutgers easier to learn.

And now, I bid you adieu.

Signing off,

Nida Saeed.

Six Classes I Think Everyone Should Take

After having been in school for a while, I can tell you this: there are certain classes I’ve taken that have changed my understanding of a wide variety of things.

I think this is why the core curriculum honestly exists. It fills in the gaps of your knowledge about specific things and helps you link together seemingly disparate phenomena or ideas. That is the basis of creativity, of groundbreaking research, inventions, etc.!

I never, ever understood why people would say things in school like, “Why are we learning this? It’s not going to help us in the future.” (Sometimes, though, I can honestly understand their point of views).

But, buddy.

That depends on what you want to get out of your future.

Some people are after the money, and that’s fine if that’s your thing. But I know what I’m after. And I know that a lot of you in the SAS Honors Program are after the same sort of thing: to be either a master or well-regarded in your field.

So to open up your mind, I suggest a few classes that I’ve taken here at Rutgers that honestly changed my outlook on things. Sometimes, you end up finding a career in a class you thought was completely unrelated. Sometimes, it makes you a healthier person. Sometimes, it’s just plain fun.

1. Physics

Oh, I can already hear the groans! I had to take this back when I was still a pre-med student, but I really don’t regret it. I made a lot of great friends in this class, but besides that, I learned about the concepts that govern our universe and learned about some concepts that don’t apply in the reality we exist in. Does it not make sense to understand the basics of the world we live in? I honestly think it does. You might think you’ll never need physics, but physics can be applied to everything from chemistry to fashion (density of a fabric may be responsible for how a fabric hangs on someone’s frame, etc). Learn about how the world you operate in works.

2. Sociology/Psychology

Both of these are an understanding of human nature and the bureaucracy or structure of that human nature works. This is just another way to understand the world we live in. This time, you’re learning how people operate here and, if you extrapolate,  you can learn how to operate to get ahead.

3. An Ethics Course

I was speaking to someone the other day–Tyler Farnsworth, our Assistant Director of Honors Media–about the importance of ethics. He told me how we all think we know the difference between right and wrong. I’m not going to lie; I thought I knew it pretty well. Then he said that that the ethical conundrums he was presented with were very difficult to answer. The right thing was very difficult or the line was very blurred. An ethics class will help you think about that difference between right and wrong, and where you stand morally. This is useful to know going into your career into the future.

4. A History Course

The usefulness of a history course has almost no bounds. This is where you get to learn what leaders and people in the past did when they were up against problems that were difficult to solve. It’s also a practical understanding of how people react to specific things. A history course provides examples for the principles you learn in sociology and psychology. It also gives you ideas for how to solve your own problems in the future. Life will never be a smooth boat ride; you’re going to hit rough waters at some point. Wouldn’t it be useful to know how to react to the water that’s about to come up and swallow your boat whole? I certainly think so!

5. Exercise Physiology and Exercise Physiology Lab

You know, we all learn that we should eat healthily and exercise. But we’re not always taught how to do it well. Our high school classes may have taught us a little, but health, as a class, is unfortunately never taken too seriously. Taking a class specifically about health is ideal.

I learned a lot about how the body uses energy and what systems of the body interact with what. This I mostly learned in class. I also learned when to eat what kinds of foods if I wanted to gain muscle or become toned or honestly just be healthy.

What was most useful for me was the lab. I learned how to perform tests to find out how fit I was and learned how I could improve my body that way.

These two classes made me start exercising a lot more. And I realized that I really enjoy working out.

6. Last but not least: An Interdisciplinary Honors Seminar

I honestly love the idea of an interdisciplinary class, but I didn’t realize how much I would love it until I took Politics of Art and Poetry with Dean Nazario and Paul Blaney this past semester. I’ve never had so much fun in my entire life and learned so much about an intersection between two disparate fields. I also made a lot of great friends.

We did group projects, skits, readings aloud, and went on many field trips. The class had a very discussion-heavy focus. That’s where ideas are born: out of discussions.

 

It’s classes like all of these that help you make all those connections. It’s classes like these that make you think. There’s a lot of things you can do on this planet. There’s absolutely no way that everything has been invented or discovered. What if you were the person that discovered the next big thing? And what if it was a class like one of these that got you there?

I guess we’ll all find out on the Internet when you write a book, be a guest on a talk show, or just create something better than the Internet. Who knows?

This is It

(Trigger warning: I talk about death and living alone).

This is it. I’m reaching the edge of my senior year, and I can start to feel the fingers of Henry Rutgers himself begin to push me closer and closer to getting off the campus and graduating.

Somewhere in that energetic pull, there’s a stern reminder that I can always visit and I should obviously bring my future husband and children to the place where I spent 4 years of my life.

I had assumed that once I hit my senior year, I would feel as if I would never want to leave. In a way, part of that is true. I will absolutely miss my freedom here; I’m going back to live with my parents after graduating for I’m not sure how long.

But there’s a few things I learned about myself this year, and I encourage you to figure out where you stand about them as well.

1. I refuse to live alone in the future.

Even living with a pet isn’t enough for me. I need actual human contact.

I learned this point the hard way. I came back a week early from winter break to live at my apartment and work. I spent most of that week alone, and I found out that not having someone around to talk to about my day and hear about theirs in return was excruciatingly lonely. I understood what science meant when stating that we are social creatures.

2. I need something to look forward to as I’m studying or else it seems very pointless.

Having goals is always a good thing; orienting yourself so you follow through to reach your goals is even better; completing goals and forming new ones is the best.

I’ve specifically planned activities for myself every single weekend at Rutgers. These activities range from snowboarding (which I just did this past weekend and have fallen absolutely in LOVE with), to the SASHP Winter Formal, to going home to hang out with my parents.

Yes, you heard that right. I hang out with my parents. This leads me to my next point.

3. Realize that you have a very short window of time here, and that you really should make the best of it.

I don’t entirely mean at Rutgers. I mean that all of life is very short. My parents never expected that their entire lives would pass in the blink of an eye, but it has and now they have three quite capable kids ready to take on the world.

And somewhere along the way, I realized that my parents had gotten old. Their habits started melting into habits I’d expect from the elderly, their faces changed, and they started laughing more and teasing each other more.

It’s like they fell into a pattern with each other that was different from their earlier pattern. They embraced life as it is and began focusing on the positive.

I’m not going to lie, so I’m going to tell you that I’m deathly afraid of losing them. I know death is part of life, but I realized the world lied, or at least, it didn’t clarify when it talked about death.

When the world talks about about the fear of death, the world is talking about living through the death of other people, not the death of yourself.

If you yourself die, things are easy. You’re gone. But watching someone else pass? That, that’s really hard. That’s where the fear comes from.

Many of you might know this intimately and I’m truly sorry you do at such a young age. But it also is what is. I wish I could offer more support (CAPS can always help!)

 

So do yourself a favor and force yourself out of bed to get to that Rutgers event you weren’t sure about going to. Go and buy that polaroid camera, bro. Go and call up that old friend you’ve been wanting to talk to for years. Just do it.

There’s a good chance you won’t regret it.

Looking for Internships: a Mini How-to Guide

I am lucky enough to be interning at Visual Country this semester. Here’s how they describe themselves: “Visual Country is a creative production partner to global brands and the agencies that support them. Headquartered in Manhattan, we create short-form video and digital content experiences that delight and engage users across channels, devices, and platforms.” This was my dream internship, especially since I had just recently left the pre-med route and didn’t have much experience elsewhere and was interested in the creative work they did.

I’ve only been there one day, but I already know that I’m going to love it and that I’m going to learn quite a bit interning with them this semester.

This is why I wanted to put together a mini-guide for how I did it, especially for all of you SASHPers who want to get their feet wet with some hands-on experience. But first, I wanted to say this: if you don’t feel ready to start working yet, don’t berate yourself. You will have the rest of your life to work, so starting a little later with real-life experience isn’t detrimental. Be kind to yourself, bro.

I have had “find an internship” on my to-do list for at least two years, but I never felt ready enough to conquer that optional (depending on your major) part of college. It wasn’t until this year that I finally felt ready, so I looked around and applied.

However, you should also note that many of the outlets provided to you may not be available after graduating college. I’m speaking specifically about Rutgers CareerKnight.

Utilize Your Own College’s Resources Before You Look Anywhere Else

Rutgers CareerKnight was super helpful as I was applying. You can upload your resume, numerous cover letters, and extra materials. You can also add jobs and internships to your favorites to look at later, and the best part is that the deadlines are clearly listed for each opportunity. I would recommend you all poke around there, even briefly.

CareerKnight also has a student-alumni connection database, with which you can find alumni at Rutgers who are in careers that you’re interested in and ask them questions!

There’s also campus events on finding internships, applying, and interviewing! Use those resources! You’re paying for them somehow!

Google, Google, Google

I honestly just typed what I was interested in in Google search, looking specifically for companies in the beginning instead of just internships. If you type in ‘internship,’ you lower your chances of finding startups and agencies that may be looking for interns. Google carefully; the words you use to search are important. This is actually how I found my current internship.

Use Other Job/Career/Internship Websites

I also utilized Indeed.com, and I know when I’m looking for jobs after I graduate, I’ll still be using this resource. You can also add favorites and Indeed will give you possible jobs (as does CareerKnight) based on your previous searches and your resume.

There is also Inroads, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and National Society of Black Engineers. (I think I must’ve accidentally attended an engineer meet or something). There are countless others; you just have to find them.

Apply to as Many Places as Possible

Do this especially if you’re applying to really big-name companies. I didn’t apply to as many as I had on my list though, but that’s because things ended up working out where I received interview opportunities quickly after application.

 

I do understand that this is quite general advice, but sometimes, the general advice is what gets you started. Happy looking, and don’t beat yourself if things don’t work out. There are always, always, always opportunities somewhere on the horizon.

The Importance of Advisors

I’ve been trying to figure out what it is I want to do with my life. Ever since I gave up the premed life way back in August, (and posted about it in September), I’ve been drifting. And that sort of drift, that sort of lack of focus and goals, can be debilitating. You can be stressed unconsciously. That’s a hard lesson I learned this year. And I felt, especially when I walked away from premed, that I had failed some unwritten lesson, even though I felt relieved at the prospect of cutting myself off from all that unnecessary (for me) stress.

So this is the part where I tell you this: Advisors are the best thing to ever exist, if you find the right ones. Go and talk to them!

Let me repeat that again, because of how important that is: Advisors are the best thing to ever exist, if you find the right ones. Go and talk to them!

I want to start on this topic by saying that I did not have great experiences with advisors my freshman and sophomore years. But that might also be because there’s a stigma attached to premed students that I didn’t realize existed until I separated myself mentally from that group. We’re all a little too idealistic and enthusiastic, and we feel like its the end of the world when a specific thing doesn’t go our way in the beginning. Feel free to contest me on this, but take a hard look at yourself if you’re young and premed or when you were young, and you’ll see what I mean.

That’s not to say that that’s entirely a bad thing; we have every right to be the way we are, because that’s what youth is. Our experiences shape us, so we have to be hopeful to want to experience different things.

So when I went looking for newer experiences to find what I wanted to do, I found myself standing in front of the Deans of the Honors Programs.

And let me tell you, they are wonderful Deans. I’ve never found a community of staff that cares so much about its students before. Not only did they guide me and help me find a path to follow, but they also offered advice for the future that I knew would help me for years to come.

We don’t trust our elders enough, I think; when we enter college, we feel we’ve got it all figured out. It’s our time to decide how we want to live our lives. But we forget that our parents, our Deans, our advisors, our instructors–our elders–have often gone through many of the things we’re going through right now. It’s so unfortunate that we don’t utilize these resources enough. If you could save yourself a world of pain and mistakes by speaking to someone who has gone through what you have and solved the issues, wouldn’t you speak to them? Wouldn’t you glean all of their knowledge?

So go. Go and talk to all of your advisors.

And if you have no idea what you want to do with your life, do yourself a favor and go see University Career Services. The advisors there were the main driving force in helping me find what I was interested in as a career, which happened to be UX Design. Wikipedia defines it as, “the process of enhancing user satisfaction with a product by improving the usability, accessibility, and pleasure provided in the interaction with the product.”

And they, too, were some of the kindest and most helpful people I had met.

Kind and caring people are hidden in pockets around campus. Go out there and find them. Find yourselves! And don’t forget to fail a little bit too, just for the personal growth.

This Wasn’t Supposed to Be About the Election, But…

I didn’t want to write about the election, because I feel that most have already dissected it enough. But I’m going to do it anyway.

The media’s had their frenzy, and so has everyone else. There’s really only so much that can be said. However, it’s come down to this: everyone knew that everyone had different opinions, but now, having to face those opinions without a way to hide from them, has really taken its toll. That toll is the realization that everyone’s own moralities–what’s right and what’s wrong–lie on different parts of the spectrum.

So, if you feel as if your country has failed you (and for many who did vote for Trump, it didn’t), what are you to do?

I went through the standard five stages of grief, (which really isn’t supposed to be understood the way it is and applied in order), and yeah, I’ve hit acceptance. He is our president, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it. Respect should only be given if it is deserved, and after a campaign of racism and misogyny, I’m not entirely sure he deserves respect. That doesn’t mean I’m asking for a riot; I’m asking for peaceful protests. I’m not asking he be impeached, but I’m asking he educate himself about the mix of immigrants that constitute this country.

His failure to truly understand the plight of minorities is significant. It’s a sign that minorities–and white allies–haven’t been loud enough about their struggles. We’ve had the #BlackLivesMatter movement and police brutality has been publicized. Good. We need more revolution, we need more. This country was built on revolution.

We needed to fail, I think, because failure is what pushes us into action. It’s horrifying to see it this way, from a marginalized perspective. But failure is one of the few things that can propel us to rethink, regroup, and re-strategize. It fosters creativity and revolution.

I was having a conversation with someone the other day, and I found myself asking this: “Isn’t revolution supposed to uncomfortable?”

And I realized something that had never really occurred to me: yes. Yes, it is! It 100% is!

We rally for change, but we forget how uncomfortable it is to change, how uncomfortable it must be for those who are older, who have lived life for so long a certain way. I’m not trying to defend anyone here; I’m trying to urge everyone to understand.

You have to understand to change things. And you have to learn. And you have to be open to learning.

Presidency for Trump is going to be a long learning process. President Obama has already said he’s going to stay longer than usual to teach President-elect Trump how to run the country and effectively maneuver through all that this position of power grants him.

I don’t know if he’ll change, but I know that everyone has the capacity for change. I’m not asking that we give him a chance. I’m asking that now, when racism, misogyny, and white supremacy is at its peak, we rally back louder and stronger. We build bridges, and we make others understand, peacefully. We use this opportunity to weaken the us vs. them divide, and move toward a national “us,” a U.S. After, all what is the U.S. if not us?

Prepping for Halloween

Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year. But I’ve honestly never really known why. It could be the free candy; I feel that’s the response most people would have as to why they enjoy the holiday. Or it could be Mischief Night, which I actually have never partaken in and if destruction of people’s property is the point of the night, then I don’t think I ever will celebrate it. (Mischief Night, by the way, is only a tristate area thing. The rest of the country has almost no idea what it is).

I think, for me, it’s the spirit of it all. It’s something to look forward to, especially for someone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas (but still gives out presents because of how widespread the holiday is in the United States). Halloween is all-inclusive. I guess that’s what I really love about it.

I even got my roommates involved in decorating our door! Here’s a picture:

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And the creativity of costumes. I love that too.

As a senior in college, I am obviously not able to go door to door to get free candy anymore, but I can still have fun, adult-style. Safely, of course. As a senior in college, I also wanted to do something special for this Halloween. In the past, I haven’t really tried to dress up. I wore black and called it day, for the most part, from my freshman through junior year. But this year, I actually wanted to create my costume, akin to the way many parents sewed together costumes for their children.

I wanted to be Harley Quinn, but then I realized that every girl was going to be Harley. I opted to be the Winter Soldier instead. At least I’ll be warm during Halloween.

Most of the materials were pretty easy to obtain. I already had black pants and boots. I bought a $6 long-sleeve black shirt from the kids section and a $20 vest from Target. I ordered an official and legitimate tactical belt holster and some straps to attach to my vest from Amazon.

But what remained was the arm. Here’s the original Winter Soldier:

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How in the world was I going to make the arm? I could have taken the easy way out with aluminum foil but… that’s not fun. Nor was I going to learn something new.

So I found this tutorial and decided to give it a try.

The tutorial said it would be cheap, easy, and fast, but… it’s been three days and I know I’m going to be working on this arm until next weekend.

Here are some of the pictures of my progress:

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I knew nothing about plaster (except faint facts remembered from elementary school). Those cracks weren’t supposed to be that bad. I should have layered rather than slathered on a thick layer of plaster and glue. Oh well. That’s how we learn.

I’ll update you all on how the rest of it goes next time around when I finish!

Y U No premed?!

I’ve had many, many long discussions with myself and my fellow friends about this, and I’ve had a lot of overwhelming support from an innumerable amount of people for switching away from being premed. So many people liked my status when I said it was the best decision that I had ever made that it almost made tears come to my eyes. And people also asked me what changed my mind. I think this post sums it up pretty well.

It’s crazy because I’m starting my senior year, and by this point, if I followed the med school route properly, I should have already applied to med schools and taken the MCATs forever ago. Right now, I should be awaiting interviews. And secondary applications.

But I’m not.

I’m not doing any of that. Instead, I’ve joined a zumba class. And perhaps a pilates class. I’ve taken on a role as movie reviewer for the The Targum (and I’ll soon be reviewing Sausage Party so look out for it!) I’ve applied to be Event Coordinator for Hall Government for Livingston Apartments. I’ve gone to all of my classes (many of them science) and actually enjoyed myself. I bought myself a Polaroid camera. I’ve started scrapbooking. I’ve started writing more. I’ve started waking up in the morning without dreading the rest of the day.

Basically, I have done everything that I refused to allow myself to do while I was on the premed path.

Being premed comes with so many pressures and structures that don’t exist in other professions. There’s collecting letters of recommendation and being on your best behavior 24/7 (which you should do anyway, but it’s just another pressure). There’s filling up your resume so you look balanced but accomplished. That means having lab work, clinical work (whether volunteer or paid), and high involvement in student activities. There’s shadowing doctors. There’s making sure you do well in all your classes (for the high GPA – a 3.5 is just barely competitive) and learn the material thoroughly so reviewing it later for MCATs won’t be difficult. There’s studying for MCATs, and researching which are the best books to prepare for it. There’s actually taking the MCATs, which is about seven hours long. There’s writing a personal statement for med schools. There’s filling out the rest of the application for med schools. There’s taking all the courses required (they added sociology, psychology, and statistics). And then, if you’re accepted, med schools will send you a secondary application to fill out. Oh, and let’s not forget the extreme competition.

The last picture was literally me:

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These are all just checkpoints in college. IN COLLEGE. Then, when you apply, only about 50% of students actually make it into med school. Even if you’re well-qualified.

This route, obviously, is not for the faint of heart. It’s also not for those who have no heart for it. And I did have heart for it, for a long time. I enjoyed the community that came with premed. Everyone was suffering, and everyone joked about it. I also wanted to change things, and I assumed that the best way to do so was what came after med school and residency. But it’s not the best way; it just IS a way.

It took me years to learn that.

And I realized that it wasn’t making me happy, or content. There were red flags everywhere: I didn’t enjoy volunteering clinically after a while. Shadowing was helpful, but a lot of doctors I saw didn’t look content with themselves, or, unfortunately, were very pompous. My science classes were stressful because of all the pressure, even though I knew I could excel.

I followed this path for a combination of reasons. The main one I mentioned above. The other reason was a a faint, gentle push from my parents, who gave me free reign to do whatever I wanted, but also wanted me to be truly successful. Immigrant parents often want the best for their children. It’s a dialogue that needs to be discussed, that we first-generationers are pushed toward a few options more than others because those are the only fields our parents have learned as truly successful: medicine, engineering, and computer science. And it takes a toll on us, even if nudging us there was done–in our parents’ eyes–with our best interests in mind. But success has numerous different meanings.

No matter how you got to the premed path, you have to think carefully about how much time you want to put in this profession. It’s a lot of work, and it takes a toll. It can burn you out. I’ve seen some of the best people get scrubbed away by this profession. I’ve seen people shine the more they get into this profession.

This post isn’t to discourage you. It’s to truly show you the reality of what it is you signed up for. You want to change the world through becoming a doctor? Or physician’s assistant? Or nurse? Great. Make sure you’ve got the time and energy for it. And make sure that you’re doing this path for YOU, not for your parents, not just for the income, and not just for the prestige. There are other ways to gain all of that.

Because in the end, it’s your life you’re living. Not your parents’, not your friends’, not your relatives’.

So I encourage all of you to sit down and truly think. Bring all those red flags to mind about whatever profession you’re seeking. Is this profession something you like to do, even with the red flags? Will it make you content? And if not, what will?

If anyone has any of their stories to share, comment below! I’d love to hear everyone else’s thoughts!

If You’re Reading This… Ramadan has Begun

As soon as the sun went down last night, Ramadan began. Ramadan, one of the Islamic months, is a month of fasting, in which one fasts from dawn to dusk each day. This means no food, no water, no smoking, and no sex from when the sun comes up to when the sun goes down.

Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, meaning it is one of the basic and mandatory acts that one must follow in Islam. It’s obligatory for adults, but not for those who are ill, traveling, elderly, pregnant, or menstruating. In Arabic, it’s called Sawm. These five pillars are for the Sunni sect of Islam, the sect of which I’m a part of; there are other pillars for other sects, and I think this Wikipedia article does a good job explaining the pillars.

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In this month, the Qur’an (the holy book of Islam, like Christianity has the Bible, and Judaism has the Torah) was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad, the one who brought Islam to the world. Fasting is not only to celebrate that Islam was brought down but it is also done to earn taqwa, which translates to fear of God, but means being devoted to or conscious of God. It can also be understood as God-consciousness. With fasting, we also remember those who are not nearly as fortunate as we are, those who don’t have daily food or water to survive.

Ramadan has always been a special part of my life when I go home. It’s a way to connect to my family, my Muslim community, and my religion and spirituality. When I wake up in the morning to eat for Suhoor (what we call that morning eating time), I’m usually pretty tired but the rest of my family is too so we all eat in tired silence, sometimes with minimal words. In hindsight, it’s kind of hilarious (in a good, satisfying way). Imagine a whole bunch of exhausted people sitting around the table eating food and kind of grunting affirmations or denials when being asked questions. But it’s a happy sort of sleepy that encompasses us and I value those moments. When we were younger though, my siblings and I would just stay up the entire night to eat in the morning. And we’d be so hyper! Our parents, sometimes amused but often times too tired to deal with us, would tell us to keep our voices down at the table but it would never work. We’d be loud until we had to pray Fajr, the earliest prayer of the day, and then we’d sleep. Some of my happiest moments are in those hours.

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Technically, we’re supposed to stay up for the rest of the day (after sleeping for a time) and carry out our errands the way we normally would, but as children, we’d sleep in until we had to wake up for Iftar,  which is what we call the evening eating time. It sort of defeats the purpose of fasting, but we were children and it wasn’t obligatory for us anyway. I remember a few years ago, I completely switched up my sleep schedule for Ramadan, in that I was sleeping from 8 AM to around 8 PM and staying up the entire night. The amazing thing I realized after I did that was that the sunrise never lost its beauty.

By evening, we were starving. We’d grab as much food as we could and gobble it down, after praying of course. I can taste all the wonderful food, even now. It’s different for other cultures, but in my Pakistani culture, we would have samosas (my dad makes the BEST samosas I’ve ever had), curries, chicken pilaf, and biryani. Although chicken pilaf is my favorite (my mom makes a mouth-watering chicken pilaf), chicken biryani is a fan-favorite among many Pakistanis.

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And Iftar is can be celebrated with many other people, so we’d always be invited to others’ houses for Iftar parties, in which everyone would break their fasts together. And if we were at a masjid, the Arabic word for mosque, or went to one after breaking our fasts, we would pray the rest of the night. These prayers were called Taraweeh. They could often last until Suhoor, if we wanted to stay that long. Sometimes, on the weekends, we did.

For Iftar parties, I and many others loved dressing up, although I think this is a cultural aspect rather than a religious aspect. I would don a beautiful salwar kameez. Here’s me in one, although this wasn’t taken during Ramadan:11225730_10152878310568039_588285998948020402_n (1)

I remember snippets of Ramadan, and more continue to be added. I remember my parents at the table, my friends and I praying in the masjid or just talking, reading the Qur’an in the quiet hours of morning, or finding my parents curled up near the lamp reading their respective Qur’ans. I remember watching sunrises come up with my friends, leaving the masjid at daybreak, the hustle and bustle of Iftar parties and Suhoors at the masjid, and late-night talks with my siblings and cousins about the meaning of life or our existences. I remember snippets of laughter, of community, of happiness. I remember feeling content.

*For the header image: Mubarak means blessed, so the phrase Ramadan Mubarak is to wish a blessed Ramadan.

Chaos of Registration

It is 9:50 pm on Thursday night, ten minutes before I register. I am sitting on my computer with WebReg open and logged in on side of the screen and Course Schedule Planner open on the other side. Now, this being my third registration, I had already made five different schedules, knowing that somehow, Rutgers would find a way to leave me with 0 classes. Again. (Sidenote: I am not kidding, I actually had 0 classes one time during registration). After already having been hit with DDOS during two other registrations, having the entire network shutdown during my last registration, I was thinking while watching the clock change to 9:55 that there was no way something bad could possibly happen again. Right?  But then again, it’s Rutgers during registration… Be careful what you say.

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Now it’s 9:59 so I click the clock on the bottom right hand corner of my monitor to see the exact second. The closer and closer it gets to 10 pm, the more I am like this:

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Clock hits 10 pm, I hit “Register,” and the next five minutes hold an emotion so unique to Rutgers that I would never be explain it, but you all know exactly what I am talking about. My page finally refreshes, I look, and while I definitely was not at 0 credits again, I wasn’t completely happy with what was open. But the best part of Spring registration is that you have the entire summer to add/drop, so don’t panic! Breathe, relax, ask for SPNs (special permission numbers), and remember that I went from 0 credits during registration to a full courseload of everything I wanted during the add/drop period. – Fairooz Khondker

Registration is always a stressful experience; however, being abroad during scheduling presented a whole new set of problems. I am currently in the Central European time zone, which is six hours ahead of the time at Rutgers. Because registration occurs promptly at 10pm, I had to wake up at 4am to sign up for my classes. Additionally, because the course numbers for the classes I am taking while abroad are not actually on my transcript yet, I needed to apply for SPNs in order to temporarily waive many of the prerequisites that the classes I plan on taking require. Between the early hour, the spotty WiFi of my Spanish dorm, and the extra emails and paperwork I had to go through, registration was more chaotic than I ever thought it could be. (And that includes when the entire Rutgers registration system and internet crashed my freshman year…) – Madeline Padner

During my first registration, I camped out in the B.E.S.T computer lab for two hours because someone told me that I would have better luck applying for classes and get most of my classes, if not all, if I used a computer that was directly connected (by ethernet cable) to the router(?) or basically, to the Internet. I still have no idea if this is true. But I sat there, doing schoolwork, just hanging around. And I registered, and ended up getting most of my classes. But the process was nerve-wracking. With a minute left to go, this was me:

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I assumed that at some point, I’d register a split-second before everyone else. I’m pretty sure I only tired myself out, to be honest.

What happened was that I didn’t get some classes and had to input number codes to get different sections. I had written those codes down in a notebook in case something like that happened. But I realized later that I really could have just gone to my Course Schedule Planner, clicked register on another schedule with those different sections, and waited for WebReg to do its thing. I guess I knew for next time.

During my second registration, I made a close friend because I realized we were both registering for the same classes. It seems like widespread panic really does cause solidarity among the population.

But my Fall registration was someone’s second-worst nightmare (after registering and ending up with 0 credits). I FORGOT TO REGISTER. I LITERALLY FORGOT. I went to sleep AT 10 pm that night. I felt like this in the morning when it hit me like a brick:

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I was lucky enough that I got all of my classes, except for Organic Chemistry Lab. Waiting for that class to open up over a period of three months was a nightmare. Two out of ten; do not recommend. – Nida Saeed